I know a lot of bloggers will be sharing holiday gift guides soon. It’s quickly approaching that time of year and I am working on mine as well. But today I want to focus on the gift you can easily give yourself- an inspiring read!
As a child I’d lose myself in books, often spending hours (much to my mother’s chagrin) with my nose in a book. They allowed me to escape for a bit, leaving behind military child woes of moving and missing friends. And then teen angst where nothing made real sense. Books were always there for me. So it’s no surprise that right now when uncertainty abounds I’d find solace between the pages once again.
Over a decade ago when I was in graduate school, I started expanding from novels to self-help and inspirational reads. I credit them for helping me find light in darker moments, and that has remained true even in the most challenging year yet. Most of what I’m listing is nonfiction because while novels help us escape, nonfiction helps us be more present and shifts our current focus. They’re a form of self-care for me. There is one fiction read listed here and it’s surprising, inspiring, and creativity sparking, so I’m including it too.
Let’s get started- here are my top 4 inspiring reads:
What Would Frida Do? By Arianna Davis
I was really surprised by how much I loved this book. I’m not sure what I was expecting and maybe that’s because I didn’t truly understand Frida’s life beyond her artistry. I remembered being inspired by how revered she was on our trip to Playa Del Carmen last year. I was mesmerized by a large canvas recreation of one of her self portraits that leaned against an alley wall, boldly standing out behind the vendor’s stall. I wondered how I could manage to get the large painting home. I didn’t end up purchasing it but her image was everywhere- on tee shirts, coffee cups and keychains. I now understand why. Her art is beautiful, but her life was remarkable and Arianna Davis does a wonderful job of not only telling her story but doing so in a way that allows us to see a little of ourselves in Frida too. What Would Frida Do? inspires us to live more boldly and authentically too.
Identity Leadership by Stedman Graham
I absolutely love reading leadership books. Not only is it inspiring to me to follow the path of people who are good leaders but I also like the idea of finding ways to apply leadership principles in our own lives. This book embodies that sentiment. The main premise of the book is that in order to be a great leader you have to be able to lead yourself. It’s a wonderful dive into self awareness, finding your purpose, and believing in yourself. The author is not only an inspirational speaker who is gifted at making us understand our why but he’s also a coach who shows us how. I truly believe that deep down we all have the ability to be great leaders. Identity Leadership helps you figure out a way to unleash your inner leader.
The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Jonna Teplin
I actually came to this book in the opposite way that I typically choose a book. Usually I love a book and it somehow makes it way onto my television screen but this time I loved the Netflix Home Edit organizing show so much I couldn’t wait to get a copy. If you have not seen the show yet I really encourage you to watch it. I love how they combine celebrity life with real life and use the same organization techniques whether they are organizing a room in a celebrity’s estate or in a modest but cozy two bedroom home. The show helps show you how to set up a system for organizing your home in a way that works for you but the book takes it even further showing you how to organize your home, the apps on your phone and even how to pack a suitcase more effectively. If you had a hard time letting things go Marie Kondo style the Home Edit shows how you can keep it but contain it. It’s not really about living with less, it’s more about living with less chaos.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This book came into my life accidentally. When the stay at home order was lifted in our area one of the first places I headed was our local book store. I just wanted to be in a place that brought me joy. Masked of course, I walked by all the racks of displays on books about the African American experience as a result of the BLM movement following George Floyd’s tragic death. It made my heart happy to see so many people reading works by black authors that they may not have taken the time to read before. And then I saw The Poet X. It had several shiny gold stars on the front letting me know it had won many awards, but I was surprised that I had never heard of the author. It turns out it is Young Adult fiction which I typically don’t read (though I do sometimes enjoy the ones that make it to film) but this was different, not only was it poetry but the poems unfold into an actual novel! It is beautifully written to give us a peek inside the Afro-Latinx experience. I found it inspiring in a way that makes you want to be brave, use your voice and expand your creativity the same way the main character does. I did not want to put it down.
So those are my top 4 Inspiring Quarantine Reads. I’d love to hear what you have been inspired by over the past few months.
P.S. I also tend to listen to audible books while walking my neighborhood or cleaning the house so as a bonus here are some good celebrity audible picks I have enjoyed as well: Greenlights By Matthew McConaughey, More Myself By Alicia Keys, Powershift By Damond John, Lessons by Gisele Bundchen, and The Decision by Kevin Hart. All of these are part memoir, part self-help/inspiration and all were informative and quite entertaining to listen to on tape. I also listened to Identity Leadership on audible and then purchased the hard copy (yes, it was that good!)
Until Next Post,
Xo Tonya Parker