5 Inspirational Summer Reads to Help You​ Live Your Best Life


An Insatiable Hunger

I’ve always been a reader. I gobbled down non-fiction as a child like most kids do sweets. Each read was tastier than the next. I couldn’t get enough. I remember how annoyed my mother would be as I lost myself in a book during my youth. Her annoyance was not because she didn’t want me to read. Of course she did. She just couldn’t understand my need to only read.  I would become so immersed-so sucked into the story that nothing mattered until I had consumed the entire thing. As I’ve gotten older I’m still a consumer of the written word, but the focus has shifted. I no longer solely desire to live the delicious lives of the characters that pulled me into their stories, I now feed myself books that inspire me to live my best life.

Malcolm Gladwell in his masterclass introduction said that “You don’t read nonfiction the way that you chew gum or watch the Kardashians. You read it because you’re in search of something powerful and fundamental about what it means to be a better person.”

A Few to Feast On

Here are a few good reads that I feel are powerful, fundamental and will leave you feeling full.

Big Magic-By the author of Eat Pray Love- If you have a desire to embrace your creative side for pleasure or passion this is a great read. Elizabeth Gilbert inspires us to push past our fear and embrace our desire to create something magical. “What keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (self-doubt…)” Gilbert inspires us to step into who we are meant to be.

Heart Talk- My daughter sent this book to me. It is full of poetic wisdom that makes your heart smile. It’s a quick read but the type you can nibble on. Little bits of wisdom with a sassy two snaps and a twirl feel.  It makes a good gift for women of all ages. Wade reminds us that we “become the stories that we tell ourselves.”

The Seat Of the Soul– This isn’t for the novice non-fiction reader. It is heavy, profound and enlightening. It’s the kind of book that makes you reread a sentence to let it sink in. Certainly not a quick read, but a life changer if you’re willing to challenge yourself. Both Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey tout it as a game changer. “The Seat of the Soul changed the way I see myself,” said Winfrey.

Grit– This book spoke to me literally and figuratively. I listened to it on audible and while the concept of tenacity, perseverance, and success in overcoming lifes challenges isn’t new, the research Duckworth shares about those she calls Gritty people is eyeopening. Everyone should read (or listen) to this book. Find out what sets gritty people apart. If you’re already gritty it’s reaffirming and if you want to grow your grit it will show you how. Angela Duckworth explains that “Our potential is one thing, what we do with it is quite another.”

Next on the menu

The Sun Does Shine– I just received this memoir and I am so inspired by the author. Hinton was falsely convicted and subsequently spent 30 years on death row. In his interview in O, The Oprah Magazine, he said that he started a book club for the men on death row because he knew that “If the mind could open, the heart would follow”. I can’t even tell you how much that tugs at my heart.

I also saw him on Oprah’s FB live interview and I was so impressed by his ability to embrace humor in spite of his dire circumstances. Anyone might be able to muster a laugh while sitting with Oprah on her gorgeous and famous porch in Maui. Can you even imagine how beautiful that must be? But to hear him tell stories about laughing and joking with his best friend Lester every weekend during his prison visiting hours for 30 years tells me everything I need to know about this man’s character. I can’t wait to dive into this one.

I would love to hear what you think about these books and I look forward to your recommendations on other inspiring reads as well.


Until next post,


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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

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