As we approach the final two weeks of 2021, we’re taking this time to reflect on the books we’ve read this year that have changed our outlook. This year has taught us a lot about resilience, empathy and dealing with constant change. Some of us turned to a light reading of fiction that aroused joy, an inspiring memoir that encouraged us to change, or an educational reading that taught us something new about the world.
We asked our Thrive contributors to share the books that changed their perspective this year. Which of them will you read in the New Year?
Happier: discover the secrets of daily joy and lasting fulfillment, by Tal Ben Shahar
“This book has had a very positive influence on my work and my life. It is based on material from a popular course of the same name that the author taught at Harvard. His insistence on the importance of meaningful and productive activity, rather than the pursuit of happiness in oneself, is a powerful message that I have shared with clients and try to live out on my own. When we seek happiness it escapes us, but when we take care of other things, like a butterfly, it lands on our shoulders. The wisdom in this book is more relevant than ever.
—Arlene B. Englander, psychotherapist and author, North Palm Beach, Florida
Avant et rire: a book that changes life by Jimmy Car
“The pandemic has been a dark time for so many reasons and so many people, including me. I needed to laugh, so I chose this book to try and cheer myself up. Not only did it make me laugh, but it really challenged me to take ownership of my situation, whatever it is, and find the best in it. This book should be required reading for all students. It’s an incredibly deep, stimulating and funny book!
—Gerald Verno, director of supply chain analysis, Washington, DC
The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins
“During the pandemic, I noticed that I did not give myself the same compassion that I extended to others. Instead, I was critical, impatient, and demanding, which impacted my motivation and well-being. That was until I read this book. Robbins has taught me to seek happiness and success like everyone else I care about in my personal and professional life. When you cheer yourself on each morning with a high five in the mirror, she says you boost your self-confidence, reduce self-doubt, and you feel more empowered. Thanks to this amazing book, I plan to flourish with a high five for myself every morning. It is backed by science and can have a profound impact on your life.
– Farrah Smith, life coach, Los Angeles, California
The magic of thinking big by David Schwartz
“It was one of the favorite books I’ve read this year and it’s an old classic. It validated my thoughts on some really tough transitions about being intentional, planning and sharing your goals with the world, and then waiting and seeing amazing things happen. It’s great to see that all of these fundamentals still hold true decades later. “
—Isabelle Bart, Social Entrepreneurship Coach, Orange County, California
Savage by Glennon Doyle
“A book that really touched me this year and that I keep revisiting to collect all the wonderful jewels of wisdom is Savage. This memoir was a real wake-up call for me, highlighting how we can stop striving to meet the expectations of others and start listening to our inner voice and trusting ourselves. I took tremendous value from this book in terms of how to set limits, how to accept myself and how to release my instincts.
—Candice Tomlinson, Coach and Hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia
You are your best asset: vulnerability, resilience to shame and black experience presented and edited by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown
“The most significant book I read in 2021 was this anthology. A series of black, cisgender, non-binary, queer and more men and women shared the most raw experiences I have ever read. Each essay was 10 to 15 pages long, however, I only read one per day. The stories were so poorly monitored that I took 24 hours to reflect on each individual experience and how their shame directly related to their black experience. It was both heartbreaking and empowering, and inspired me to read more work from each of the contributors in my journey to learn more about the black experience.
—Tami Nealy, corporate communications, Phoenix, AZ
The energy of money by Maria Nemeth, Ph.D.
“I originally read this book in my twenties, and it changed my relationship with money from six dollars an hour to five businesses and millions of income. I re-read the book last year to deepen my understanding of money and how to harness other energies including time, physical vitality, creativity, relationships with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. If you are going through a transition, remember that your greatest power is to be willful.
—Kalika Yap, Entrepreneur, Pacific Palisades, California
The star giver by Jojo Moyes
“I like books with a strong feminine character and this one has several. Based on the true story of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, the book chronicles the lives of five women during the Great Depression who form a group that travels to deliver books within their community. Although it is historical fiction, the initiative to bring reading to people in remote parts of the country was started by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. I couldn’t let go of this one! ”
—Eliza Williams, Customer Engagement, New York, NY
I won’t die an unlived life by Dawna Markova
“Covid has proven to be a challenge in many ways. It was a time of reflection, a time to meditate on the fact that the single person is not alone, and a time to refocus my life. This book is the one that touched me the most over the past twelve months. It’s powerful, and it allowed me to go beyond the singularity and to remember that even in the struggles, there are gifts to be found. Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper to find them, but they’re out there waiting to be discovered.
—LA Karell, Executive Coach and Consultant, Washington, DC
Hidden characters by Margot Lee Shetterly
“The book goes deeper than the film into the lives of the three women who are profiled. It shatters the myths surrounding the abilities of people of color, especially in the fields of math and science. It also shows the everyday indignities that these people have. women had to endure just to do their job. ”
—Jennefer Witter, CEO, speaker and public relations expert, New York, NY
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