The Best Inspirational Books Every Man Should Read

If you want to be uplifted rather than weighed down in these turbulent times, hang up the phone, stop doom scrolling, and immerse yourself in an inspiring book instead. We have compiled a list of motivational page turners, both new bestsellers and classic books, to help you see the good in humanity. Reading any (or all) of these books will surely help make your day better, and this is a good place to start.

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No death, no fear from Thich Nhat Hanh

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to be inspired by noted writer and Buddhist scholar Thich Nhat Hanh’s seminal work No Death, No Fear. You just have to be someone who has ever had moments of doubt, depression, isolation, anxiety, etc. In an approach to philosophy that combines stoicism, transcendentalism, Buddhism (of course) and existentialism all at once, the author shows how we can reshape our thinking about life so profoundly that it can reach the exact times when we live as a blessing (used in a secular sense) and not to be seen as a burden. Experience his allegory of two astronauts stranded on the moon who will die in two days if they run out of air and have no chance of rescue. All they would dream of would be to be safe on planet earth again – no need for wealth, fame, power or anything, just land under their feet and air to breathe, things you have right now, no? (The book came out years before the Sandra Bullock film Gravity, but the final scene of that film is a perfect take on that scenario, by the way.)

Make your bed by Admiral William McRaven

It may seem frivolous to say that great success begins with making your bed, and that would likely be inaccurate too. Retired Navy Admiral William McCraven’s point in writing the book can indeed be taken as a starting point with this simple act. See, it’s not a bed that leads you to success in business, politics, art, fitness, etc. It’s the simple willpower to take care of what needs to be done, no matter how small it seems, that gets you there. This former Navy SEAL wrote a bestselling book on the premise; When you are committed to doing what needs to be done, what will you do?

The perseverance of Caroline Alexander

The Endurance was a sensational bestseller when it came out more than 20 years ago, and for good reason: It is an excellent telling of one of the greatest survival stories of the 20th century and will be moving read for a hundred years as it remains today. This is the true story of an ordeal suffered by men trapped on the proverbial bottom of the earth in Antarctica for nearly two years. It’s harrowing, inspiring, terrifying and ultimately extremely uplifting, both with all the many signs of indomitable human spirit and the fact that, amazingly, no one has died.

The checklist manifest from Dr. Atul Gawande

This book can bring you comfort and inspiration for two reasons: First, it can help you improve your own life and achieve more than you thought possible by breaking down perceived barriers and removing both physical and mental disorder. Second, it can only help you realize how well you can compete with the top performers out there, people who have stumbled upon basic unorganization and who, in large part, have excelled at it.

My life on the street from Gloria Steinem

A bit of fair warning: the famous writer, feminist activist, and general rock star of the 20th century (and our time) Gloria Steinem’s memoirs are sure to make you wanderlust, and travel isn’t a good idea until after the pandemic ends. But perhaps for the time being you can live as a representative with the eyes of this well-traveled and always outspoken icon who has lived through so much of American history and has left its mark. The world she inherited and which she leaves behind are different places, the latter where, by and large, the “otherness” of many is no longer a thing. And that should inspire us all.

Tuesday’s With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Originally titled Letting Go, this is a book about death if you look at it that way. But that’s the wrong lens. Rather, it is a book about life, told simply through the lens of a man who gracefully unfolds his own life. The book, an international bestseller, will make you cry more than once, but you’ll feel richer after seeing life through the eyes of the late Morrie Schwartz, as shared with author Mitch Albom, and ideally it will help you appreciate all of the time that you have left here, be it years or decades.

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

Pastor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died before he was 40 years old. Let this sink in a little: the man gave his entire adult life, though brief, so wholeheartedly to a noble cause that now, more than half a century after his death, we are still looking in him for an example of it how to be. And yes, in some ways it’s terribly depressing that we as a society still have so much to do after about 50 years. On the other hand, it is proof of what a fine example this man set that still inspires today and certainly will always inspire.

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

In some ways this book is honestly a bit out of date. It relies a little more on prayer than our increasingly secular world sees fit. It was not written with the perspective gained by the civil rights era, the protests in Vietnam, the women’s library, etc. But in other ways, it’s refreshing to see that a book written when most of our grandparents were in their prime still has a lot to offer to many readers looking for help with keeping their chin up. Agnostics, atheists, and frankly most non-Christians should be done with their proverbial grains of salt, but for the Christian believer, it’s really kind of a charming book.

Will be by Michelle Obama

Yes, becoming is a memory, not a call to action, a history book or a political manifesto. But through her proficient writing and easy-going grace, the former First Lady of the United States succeeds in inspiring readers to play their own role in American history, engage more in community and politics, and experience much of the youngest Americans History representative. This book is easy to read, but elegant and insightful. It manages to be inspiring without ever acting as preaching.

Zen and the art of motorcycle care by Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Care is an odd book really. It’s part memoir, part philosophy, part fiction (based on a sometimes semi-delusional attitude towards both), and it’s all pretty interesting and strangely inspiring. The book is based on a road trip that a father and son took in the middle of the second half of the 20th century. However, it extends to everything from metaphysics to motorcycle repair, music and madness. Almost every reader will see at least a piece of themselves on these strange, unprecedented pages.

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