We all have them; those books which stay in the mind long after we have turned the last page. The most powerful of these may become a part of us. They may color our world a little brighter, challenge us, teach us things about the world and ourselves and ultimately inspire us.
This is of course a personal list of books which have done that for me – books I have read and re-read already many times in my life. Each and every person will have their own list and a different idea of what defines inspirational but if you are looking for further inspirational reading material you might like to try these. They are in no particular order of preference.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
In 2009 a national newspaper poll, listing the most inspirational books of all time, placed this book in first place, ahead of all other book including the bible.
Harper Lee was not a prolific writer. In fact she only ever published this one book which many believe to be semi-autobiographical.
The themes of the book – prejudice and, most notably, racism – are very adult but the perspective is that of a young child which is given to us by the book’s narrator, Scout. This contrast is part of what gives this book its power – Scout questions with the naivety and simplicity of a child which allows us to do the same; something which most of us haven’t done since we were children ourselves.
It is a gripping tale beautifully told, forcing us to question the validity of our own judgements and prejudices not just at surface level but to the depths of our soul.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
At first glance this tiny book, with its simple language and seagull narrator, might appear to be a child’s book but it is far, far more than that.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an outcast – he is ostracized from his flock because he finds it impossible to conform. Through his eyes we discover what it means to be brave enough to question and then step outside the confined norms of society – something which brings both pain and loneliness.
This book takes us on a journey – exploring the meaning of life’s quests, being true to our heart no matter what the consequences, suffering pain and then ultimately discovering that all we need can only ever truly be found within us.
The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
Wherever I travel in the world this book comes with me and on the two occasions I have left it behind it has found me. This is one of those magical books; the kind that seems to speak as if it was written for each of us specifically.
It is not a story as such, although there is a chronological order to the book and both a definite beginning and end. But you can dip into it anywhere and it has the power to clarify the mind; to help sort through the boggy murk of obstacles and problems that cause us pain and heartache at times.
Kahlil Gibran was a poet and that is very evident from each and every one of his beautiful and inspiring passages set out in sections addressing each of the main issues in life – love, friends, work and so forth.
Miracles on the Water – Tom Nagorski
This book has special meaning for me as Ken Sparkes, one of the story’s survivors and now an old man, is a personal friend. However, the story is so inspirational and such a reminder of what the human spirit can achieve – its great fortitude, capability for heroism and self-sacrifice – it is unlikely to leave anyone who reads it without a deep and lasting impression.
During the Second World War, the SS City of Benares was traveling from England to America, carrying 90 children aged 5 and up as part of an evacuation project. The ship was torpedoed and consequently sunk – only 13 children survived, 6 of them after being adrift in the ocean for 7 days on a life-boat barely equipped for such events. This is their story.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any favorite book that inspires you? Please leave them in the comments below!