They say the best way to learn a lesson is to experience it first-hand.

However, there’s a sense of comfort in learning the road that has already been paved out; a road with evidence that the steps taken were worth the hard work.

For as long as I can remember, there has been a feeling of fulfillment I have found in self-help books. I don’t know if that is because adulthood is terrifying and it helps knowing I am not alone, or that fiction romance novels got more far fetched and unrealistic the older I got, and ultimately lost interest. 

Either way, I am pulled by a magnetic force to the “personal growth” section of Barnes & Noble every time. I am encouraged and inspired that there are so many different books on how to be a healthier, more effective human being; from how to heal childhood trauma to the power of positive habits. As it is said, “The only person you need to be better than, is the person you were yesterday.”

There are so many incredible books I have read in my adult life, however, the five listed below have had a pivotal impact on my life. 

#1: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle

For anyone that has heard Glennon Doyle speak or has read any of her books, probably has the same warm feeling in their heart as I do. She embodies what it means to be a powerful woman. She is vulnerable, yet strong, kind but fair, intelligent yet free-spirited. Her memoir, Love Warrior, changed my perspective on my role as a woman.

Whether that role is in a romantic relationship, as a friend, or the relationship with myself, Glennon speaks on a woman being a WARRIOR. The book is filled with self-discovery, heartbreak, inspiration and anecdotes. Love Warrior is for anyone who is stuck in the corner of life; step out, spread your wings, cause we can do hard things. We can confront our pain and claim the love that exists for all of us. 

“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody.”

“Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. Its meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.” 

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#2 She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst

This is for the women who have failed to protect the little girl inside of them that so desperately needed to be heard. This is for the women who look in the mirror, and all the hopes and dreams they had as a child are nowhere to be found. During different seasons of our lives, we find that we are not amounting to what we originally had planned for our lives, so what do we do? Using her own vulnerable story of teenage pregnancy and other unforeseen circumstances, Chrystal Evans Hurst speaks on the ability we have to regain our “stolen life.” We have power in our progress and that there is always hope to reclaim the hopes and dreams we once had for ourselves.

“I’ve learned how important it is for me to rule my emotions instead of letting my emotions rule me.”

“While I don’t always do it perfectly, I understand the importance of not wearing every emotion on my sleeve and talking to my heart based on what my head knows to be true. I’ve also learned the art of showing up. As a person who struggles with insecurity, I sometimes find myself feeling unworthy, ill-equipped, or undeserving. But I know that the way I feel isn’t always the barometer of what is true.”

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#3: The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

I read this book during a time in my life where I was very emotional, and took everything personally and felt like people were out to attack me. This book brought me to tears multiple times. There is so much of our life and energy that we waste by giving other people power over our emotions. The 4 agreements that Ruiz talks about are, Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions and Always Do Your Best. When we follow the four agreements, our life can drastically change for the better. 

“Self-abuse comes from self-rejection, and self-rejection comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never measuring up to that ideal. “

Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are.”

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#4 Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

National Olympian soccer player, Abby Wambach, has scored more goals in her career than any other woman or man. She is driven, hardworking and passionate. Her book Wolfpack is based on her viral commencement speech that she made at Barnard Women’s College. Although it is a very short read, it’s impactful. One of the main points that she makes is,

“We as women, were never meant to be Little Red Riding Hood. we were always meant to be the Wolf.”

This book is a rallying cry for all women to embrace their power, change the rules of leadership and unleash our inner wolf. 

“You might find yourself holding a baby instead of a briefcase and fearing that your colleagues are “getting ahead” and leaving you behind. Here’s what’s important: You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench. If you’re not a leader on the bench, don’t call yourself a leader on the field. You’re either a leader everywhere or nowhere.”

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#5 I am That Girl by Alexis Jones

Living in a world with social media at the tap of a finger can be exhausting, to say the least. We are constantly bombarded with everyone’s highlight reel while trying to figure out our own passion, our purpose, our reason for being alive. Alexis Jones has made a career from encouraging young women to speak their truth and live bravely. This book is filled with powerful stories from over 30 different women, speaking on the importance of being you and forgetting about being perfect. 

“So for the people in your life who have not known your worth, who have been reckless with your heart or fallen painfully short of your expectations, sincerely wish them well, forgive yourself for holding on to it and preventing yourself from really living, forgive them for their shortcomings (as well as your own), scoop up that huge beautiful life lesson and all the pieces of your heart, and sail on.”

“You have mountains to move, dreams to dream, and a world to change, even if the only world is your own.”

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For all my book lovers, I hope you add these to your “Must Read Lists.”

For all my non-readers, there’s insight to help navigate this world, take the instruction manuals and be on your way.

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