Wellbeing

5 Books To Read When You Need Some Inspiration

Stuck in a rut? Struggling to feel inspired? Been there, buddy. Here’s a literary band-aid.

There’s plenty of ways to feel inspired again. Maybe it’s hanging out with a wise old friend or reading an interesting story in the newspaper, or even just seeing a plastic bag floating in the wind.

But when you find yourself in need of a big burst of positive, go get ’em energy, there’s really nothing like settling into a good book. The wonderful thing about picking up a novel, a memoir, or even a cookbook, is that whenever you need to reignite your imagination, you can just pick one up and be reinvigorated – just by reading words on a page. It’s pretty magical, really.

Here’s five books that’ll kick your inspiration into high gear.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Amy Poehler is an actress and comedian, famous for her time on Saturday Night Live, her lead role as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation and for such films as Sisters and Mean Girls. She’s incredibly funny, witty and has an openness about her that adds to her relatability.

It’s not surprising that Yes Please is not only funny, but overall, a pretty phenomenal memoir. Her story meanders from her improv roots (which ultimately earned her a role on SNL) to becoming a mother and a successful film and television star later in life. Though it’s not really that surprising, she has a wealth of wisdom to share; from the very public highs to the scary and dark lows. There’s also a very real feeling that you’re sitting down with a good friend.

Amy Poehler is an incredibly hard worker, and a lot of her success might be attributed to her improv training, hence the title ‘Yes Please’. As she puts it in the book, ‘Yes Please’ is tied to a philosophy of being receptive, thankful and always open to new things.

Feed by Mira Grant

Is it weird to look to a book set in the zombie apocalypse for inspiration? Probably. But nevertheless, Feed is a dystopian young adult novel set in a hypothetical contemporary world where a zombie virus has taken over the Earth. Unlike The Walking Dead, in this world, humans have managed to fight back and currently live in highly protected cities.

The main characters, Georgia and Shaun Mason, are bloggers who risk their lives to venture into the zombie filled no-man’s lands for the benefit of society. In this world, bloggers are the world’s go-to news source, thanks to their unrelenting honesty when the apocalypse came (which at the time, the government tried to cover up).

So why is this inspirational? Our protagonists are trying to do the right thing, and are consistently fighting against cynicism and despair. While this may sound a little overwrought, it’s done very cleverly. It’s so great to read a story fronted by nuanced characters that are brave, heroic and passionate about what they do. It’s inspiring, to say the least.

The Honor Harrington Series by David Weber

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In this epic science fiction series, Honor Harrington starts out as a newly promoted spaceship captain, who is sent out on a thankless mission to a part of the universe called Basilisk Station, a verifiable dumping ground for misfits and rejects. Determined to discharge her duty, regardless of her less than ideal circumstances, Honor proves herself to be an incredible badass as everything she tries her hand at: spaceship fighting, sword fighting, punching people, finances and escaping prisons while wearing an eyepatch.

She’s the perfect inspiration for when you just want to kick butts and take prisoners, because the articles of war say you should.

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

If you’ve ever felt sad and angry about the world, then Kurt Vonnegut is the guy to read. A Man Without a Country is a collection of essays, speeches and stories by the late-great author, and is probably as close as Vonnegut ever came to writing a memoir. He talks in his trademark whimsical old-coot style about things that bug him; this time his crankiness is mainly pointed at the stupid things that people do.

Reading A Man Without A Country is a lot like having a grumpy granddad tell you about how the world should work, what things were like during the war and why jazz music is like poetry. At it’s heart however, Vonnegut’s message is about hope. It’s about people coming together, forming communities and being good to each other, and it can be very lovely.

Martini: A Memoir by Frank Moorhouse

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In this memoir Frank Moorhouse details his lifelong search for the perfect martini. He’s a very poetic writer, with his memoir spanning his entire life and his extensive travel all over the world. Moorhouse has this concept of ‘martini city,’ which sounds quite simple: it’s a city where you can find a good martini. But once you dive deeper, it’s a little more complicated than that.

This book ponders the search for perfection, and it’s about being committed to enjoying things – or at least one thing, well. We should all have a ‘martini’ to strive toward in life. The concept is a great thing to aspire to.


Patrick Lenton is a writer and digital marketer. He runs Town Crier, a social media and marketing consultancy for authors.