We're always on the hunt for a killer reading list, especially if the books will help boost our understanding of the world around us and our inner lives. That said, we figured it's time to stock up on all the positive thinking our shelves can hold. We tapped Reiki master Jenni Finley to weigh in with her personal must list of literary gems to keep you in high spirits, and added some of our own recommendations, too.
Keep scrolling to discover 20 perspective-shifting reads.
Where To Begin by Cleo Wade
Cleo Wade's Where to Begin is a follow-up to Heart Talk. Choose Wade's collection of poems when you seek grounding—her anthology is full of hope, empowerment, and softness.
Quotable: "Mantra for anxiety: This is not you. This is something moving through you. It can leave out of the same door it came in."
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
“Atlas Shrugged begins as a dense novel about two competing railroad companies and unfolds into a gorgeous philosophy on strength, perseverance, and one's soul journey," says Finley. "It’s a great book about lighting your soul on fire and creating your own reality.”
Quotable: "Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists... it is real... it is possible... it's yours."
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
A perceptive debut novel by Mira T. Lee about sisterhood, mental illness, and the immigrant experience. When Lucia's condition returns, one where doctors can't agree on what exactly she's "suffering" from, it's up to older sister Miranda to bolster her. An argument can be made about life being a series of difficult choices. And as the Washington Independent Review of Books preview, "Everyone involved in Lucia’s life wants to do the right thing for her, but there is no magic cure for mental illness."
Quotable: “How trite, but true: Things change. Some all at once, some over a lifetime.”
The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner
Explorer, author, speaker, and all-around multi-hyphenate Dan Buettner introduced the world to the Blue Zones, regions around the globe with the highest concentration of centenarians. The Blue Zones of Happiness, then, reveals what we can learn from locales including Denmark, Singapore, and Costa Rica on how to incorporate more joy, purpose, and satisfaction into our daily lives (and the key to longevity).
Quotable: “Filled with realistic, constructive information, this book is a useful manual for individuals and communities to take the initiative toward happier, healthier lives.” — Publishers Weekly, on The Blue Zones of Happiness
I'm Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagán
What is the meaning of perfection, and what good does it really do for us? And what about radical honesty? Protagonist Penelope Ruiz-Kar, wearer of many hats—Wife, Mother, Top-Earner—learns these hard lessons when she embarks on an agreement with her husband Sanjay.
Quotable: “It takes courage to be yourself when everyone expects you to be someone else.”
How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti
Is Sheila Heti's novel, How Should A Person Be, narcissistic or, a deliberate mirror revealing the struggles of a generation? While lacking a definitive plot, this unconventional novel examines the creative ambitions of twenty-to-thirty-somethings living in present-day Toronto.
Quotable: “Most people live their entire lives with their clothes on, and even if they wanted to, couldn't take them off. Then there are those who cannot put them on. They are the ones who live their lives not just as people but as examples of people. They are destined to expose every part of themselves, so the rest of us can know what it means to be a human."
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
"Brené Brown’s TED talk 'The Power of Vulnerability' is one of my very favorites," says Finley. "Anything by Brown is fantastic. This book explores vulnerability and courage in a way that is accessible and inspired."
Quotable: "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."
The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol
Bristol's work is flush with research, studies, and stories about the power that belief actually plays in our lives. "Belief creates reality. This book addresses how to use your mind to create what you want and gives practical ways to generate new belief systems," says Finley.
Quotable: "What do you seek? Pay the price and take it away. There is no limit to the supply, but the more precious the thing you seek, the higher the price. For everything we obtain, we must barter the gold of our own spirits… Where to find the gold of the all-powerful? One secures the gold of the spirit when he finds himself. When he finds himself, he finds freedom and all riches, achievement, and prosperity."
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
“I believe what is fundamentally missing in the energy and minds of adults is the belief in magic," says Finley. "Peter Pan is bursting with magic. I just think it a great reminder of what it is like to approach life with a childlike sense of wonder. You can’t help but read it and fall in love with never growing up.”
Quotable: "It is not in doing what you like but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness."
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Published posthumously, promising writer Marina Keegan was just five days out after graduating from Yale—having already been published by The New York Times, and interned at the New Yorker—before she was killed in a car accident. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of stories reflecting on her short past before graduation, and hopes for the future. Her words read particularly poignant, given her tragic death.
Quotable: "I plan on having parties when I'm thirty. I plan on having fun when I'm old."
Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
The New York Times bestseller delves into ways to lead a more fulfilled, joyous life. Says Finley, "This channeled book is rich and profound. It offers beautiful insights on everything from relationships to finances."
Quotable: "There is no desire that anyone holds for any other reason than that they believe they will feel better in the achievement of it. Whether it is a material object, a physical state of being, a relationship, a condition, or a circumstance—at the heart of every desire is the desire to feel good. And so, the standard of success in life is not the things or the money—the standard of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel."
Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
"Animal totems are a very tangible and earthbound way for people to experience guidance from the universe. Whether it’s an animal that you’ve been in love with since you were a kid or an animal that you keep physically seeing all the time, you can use the book to look up what the animal represents and get an idea of what energy you’re pulling in at the time," Finley says. For example, bees are very work bound and dutiful. Their presence is said to indicate that one has become too focused on work, says Finley, and "that you’re not enjoying the sweet, honey 'nectar' of life. The animals show up as a way of teaching you something."
Quotable: "What we consider imagination is a reality in some form on levels beyond the normal sensory world."
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
A daily meditation practice offers a wealth of mental and physical health benefits, from increased focus and productivity to lower stress. “This is a beautiful work on meditation and mindfulness that explores how our habitual thoughts and emotions effect our consciousness. It’s a free-your-mind read,” says Finley.
Quotable: "Only you can take inner freedom away from yourself, or give it to yourself. Nobody else can.
There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it."
Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill
This huge bestseller is the original law of attraction book. “It’s filled with stories, maxims, and practical advice on how to apply the law of attraction to your life so that you can manifest anything that you want with your mind,” says Finley.
Quotable: "More gold had been mined from the mind of men than the Earth itself.
I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself."
Spirit Clans by David Carson
A Spirit Clan is the nucleus from which one draws their identity. Author David Carson, a member of the Chocktaw Nation of Oklahoma, guides readers through the origins of the Spirit Clan, as well as outlines 75 different clans and how they inform living a more fulfilled life.
Quotable: "Grounded in the deep belief that all of life is interconnected, David Carson invites the reader to explore the animal kingdom, identifying the spirit clans that can give strength and guidance." — Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, on Spirit Clans
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Early critics of Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle in Time balked at the collision of science and religion in her narrative, although perhaps now, in the 21st century, the novel might instead invite readers to contemplate the boundaries of love, and the power of identity. Readers follow three youths as they time travel in search for a family member.
Quotable: “Believing takes practice.”
The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi
"Deeply enlightening and awakening, Rumi is one of my favorite poets. He writes the human experience in a way that is transcendent and gorgeous," says Finley. This edited collection makes for the perfect bedside companion.
Quotable: "What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.
Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being. If not, leave this gathering. Half-heartedness doesn't reach into majesty."
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
As a student of author Don Miguel Ruiz, Finley says, “Ruiz is so free and expressive with love, gratitude, and appreciation of all humanity. The Four Agreements are essentially four belief systems you can take on to gain empowerment and cultivate a freedom within your own mind. The book is about releasing attachment so that you are open to experience love, abundance, and fulfillment on a deep level."
Quotable: "Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama."
Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter
“The impact that arranging your space has on generating positivity and influencing your energy within your own home is profound. This book makes the Chinese art of feng shui easy to apply,” Finley says.
Quotable: "Although I don't claim to know the dogma of every religion, I do know that feng shui is not meant to replace or challenge anyone's religious values or ideas. It is simply a collection of environment-oriented information, just as a cookbook is a collection of food-oriented information."
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Originally written in Portuguese, The Alchemist has been translated into more than 67 languages. The allegorical fable follows the story of a young shepherd as he sets out on a journey to Egypt after having a recurring dream. “This is such a special, unique work of fiction. It is one of my favorite books of all time, full of stunning prose and beautiful insights.”
Quotable: "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."