Best Inspirational Books to Read, Recommend, and Give to Others

Blogger Hoang-Kim Cung in her transitional home office reading on of the best inspirational books

Johnny and I are huge bookworms. I grew up loving reading and some of my fondest memories are going to the local library with my family to pick out new books! Johnny wasn’t a fan of reading at all when we first started dating. After some careful consideration, I recommended he read The Alchemist. He finished it in one day and hasn’t stopped reading, and buying books, ever since. For us, reading is a way of life. It’s a way for us to continue to learn, to grow, to experience things we wouldn’t otherwise and to gain empathy.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Joseph Addison

I’m putting together a list of the best inspirational books we love if you’re looking for something to gift someone else or simply a good read. Most of these books we own multiple copies of so if we find we want to give one away, we easily can in that moment! I read mostly fiction growing up and while The Alchemist is fiction, once Johnny got hooked on reading, he started absorbing a lot of nonfiction. That’s rubbed off on me, ha!

The Alchemist

The one that sparked my love for reading. The one of the best inspirational books that to date that I can’t help but to read front to back in one sitting. Follow Santiago on his journey through the desert. There’s multitudes of life’s secrets in this book. “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”


Whenever I’m feeling stuck, burnt out, or in need of transformation, I pull out Reboot. The core belief is that great people make great leaders. You must strive to understand and build yourself up to lead others well. Jerry Colonna is your spiritual guide through this journey of radicle self inquiry. Each chapter comes with questions and prompts you should dedicate the time to answering. I enlightened myself many times over while reading and I believe you will too.

The Psychology of Money

So much of your success with personal finance has everything to do with what you do versus what you believe. The Psychology of Money will bend your mind and tell you the truth about our conception of money and how to use it to enrich your life. Ex. If a person drives a Ferrari, I don’t know if they’re rich. I only know they spent $X to purchase or lease the car. Wealth is what you don’t see.

Atomic Habits

I’ve always been a big believer in how the “little” things we do each day really make up who we are. In this book, James explains how a horrible injury actually ended up changing his life for the better. What I love about Atomic Habits is how he pushes on the importance of being consistent with small habits rather than one-time big changes.

When Breath Becomes Air

This is absolutely one of the best inspirational books that will literally take your breath away. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but this memoir will teach you so much about life, perspective and choice. Dr. Paul Kalanithi, who had spent a decade training to become a neurosurgeon, was diagnosed with Stave IV lung cancer at 36. He went from treating dying patients to becoming one and he takes you along for each beautiful moment whether it’s full of joy or pain.

10% Happier

If you can, I wholeheartedly recommend listening to this book. The audiobook is narrated by the author himself, Dan Harris, who is a now a former ABC News Anchor. His tone, his voice and emotion really come through in the audio book and some parts are downright funny. In this book, Dan explores what you can do to actually be happier… and since he’s a bit of a realist, he realizes he can’t promise to make you 100% happy… but 10% is totally doable.

Make Your Bed

We got to witness this book, one of the best inspirational books out there, in real life when it was Johnny’s commencement speech at the University of Texas. It was honestly the best speech we’ve gotten to witness in person and we remember it to this day. The lessons Admiral McRaven shared in that speech, which went viral, and in this book can be applied by anyone to anything. This would also be a great book for children ages 8 and older.

The Outsiders

This one’s for the finance and investing nerds. Thorndike shares more than 10 stories about entrepreneurs, operators, and investors like Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and John Malone of TCI (sold to AT&T for $48B). There’s a lot of unintuitive behavior shared in these stories that tell you about the open secrets about the fourth wonder of the world: compounding.  

Cable Cowboy

For anyone who loves biographies and the nitty gritty details of people and their operations, Cable Cowboy tells the tale of John Malone. One of the most legendary entrepreneurs and investors of our lifetime who continues to operate at an elite level. Nifty trivia: who owns F1 while it lifted its global audience with Drive to Survive on Netflix? Liberty Media – the company owned by John Malone after he left AT&T.

Want to see more of my home office? Click here to learn about how we creative a functional and productive space.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Preview Picks