10 Classic Books to Inspire Your Inner Good Doer
A collection of motivational must-reads
The inspiration to do good can come from a variety of sources – both expected and unexpected, intentional and unintentional. These 10 amazing books are chock full of insights to transform you into the best possible version of yourself – and in turn motivate you to do good for the people and places around you. So grab a copy or two and get ready for some serious good doing.
1. ON ACTIVISM
THE BOOK: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM – NELSON MANDELA
When it comes to real life stories of inspiration, nothing beats Long Walk to Freedom – the autobiography of the former South African President’s incredible life. Reading it will make you think about what you can do to change the world like Mandela – whether it's by tackling discrimination, poverty and inequality, or digging into other issues which are relevant to where you live.
WHEN TO READ IT: Considering Mandela's recent passing, now is probably a good time.
GOOD DOER BONUS: Once you've read the book, the film is well worth a watch, too.
2. ON OPTIMISM
THE BOOK: HAPPIER – TAL BEN SHAHAR
Professor Tal Ben Shahar is an expert on happiness, teaching extremely popular Harvard courses on Positive Psychology which aim to improve both students' lives and the lives of their communities. His transformative first book questions the nature of happiness, and then goes on to teach readers how to find balance in life using seven simple meditations.
WHEN TO READ IT: When you're in need of a smile – that never leaves your face.
GOOD DOER BONUS: For that extra push, check out the author on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
3. ON GOOD DEEDS
THE BOOK: ACTIVATE YOUR GOODNESS – SHARI ARISON
In the ultimate book for good doers, businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison shares stories and useful tools to transform your life and bring more goodness to the world. The New York Times bestseller empowers people, organizations and businesses alike to connect to goodness and do good deeds for the benefit of others.
WHEN TO READ IT: Good Deeds Day is coming up on March 9, 2014 – brush up on your good doing in advance.
GOOD DOER BONUS: Get your free accessory for doing good, here.
4. ON PERSPECTIVE
THE BOOK: DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF – RICHARD CARLSON
The full name of this book really says it all: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things From Taking Over Your Life. Put simply, Carlson gets you motivated by clearing your mind of the clutter that weighs it down – differentiating between what really deserves your attention and what's just "noise in the system."
WHEN TO READ IT: The book consists of 100 short chapters – each only a page or two – so it makes for great coffee table or short bus ride reading.
GOOD DOER BONUS: As Carlson points out in the very first chapter, learning to stop "sweating the small stuff" puts us back in touch with "the magic and beauty of life" – and in turn transforms us into kinder and gentler beings.
5. ON GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS
THE BOOK: THE CELESTINE PROPHECY – JAMES REDFIELD
Part parable, part story, part spiritual text, there really is nothing quite like The Celestine Prophecy. The novel follows the protagonist on an adventure quest across Peru in search of nine "insights," touching on issues from chance coincidences to childhood memories and personal evolution. Whether you take it as a fun story or as your new guide to living, it is quite simply a must-read.
WHEN TO READ IT: Got the travel bug? Go on a spiritual journey instead!
GOOD DOER BONUS: This book contains hard-earned truths on how we relate to our fellow man: you have to read it to understand, but basically it all boils down to being there for each other. Expressed in a much more inspiring way.
6. ON MASTERY
THE BOOK: THE CALL OF THE WILD – JACK LONDON
Ostensibly, this is a story about a dog named Buck, getting used to a life of hard work during the Yukon gold rush in the Alaskan wilderness. Underneath, however, it's a lesson on mastery – on learning and striving to be the best. Enjoy the engaging story and let it inspire you to brilliance at the same time.
WHEN TO READ IT: When you're about to face a big challenge.
GOOD DOER BONUS: The e-book is available on Amazon for free!
7. ON WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
THE BOOK: LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK AND THE WILL TO LEAD – SHERYL SANDBERG
When it comes to female empowerment, this is the book. COO of Facebook and previous Vice President at Google Sheryl Sandberg gives advice on business leadership and how women can succeed in the workplace.
WHEN TO READ IT: Ladies, this is the book to give your career a boost – and to help other women you work with do the same.
GOOD DOER BONUS: If the book speaks to you, check out Sandberg's nonprofit by the same name – Lean In.
8. ON THE PRESENT
THE BOOK: THE POWER OF NOW – ECKHART TOLLE
No list of inspirational books would be complete without spirituality master Eckhart Tolle's first and most famous book, which became an instant, viral phenomenon on publication. Read it and learn the power of leaving your ego behind. Now. It's that simple.
WHEN TO READ IT: At a point when you're open to challenging your beliefs.
GOOD DOER BONUS: As spiritual gurus across the world agree, living in the present is the way to true happiness. Get happy and infect everyone around you with the good vibes.
9. ON SUCCESS
THE BOOK: THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS – DEEPAK CHOPRA
Anyone who has read Deepak Chopra's books will agree – choosing just one is a difficult task. In this highly motivational bestseller, the New Age guru offers a fresh perspective on the attainment of success. Based on seven laws of nature, and some ancient Vedic wisdom, this book will get you moving.
WHEN TO READ IT: When you know what you want to achieve but don't quite know how to go about it.
GOOD DOER BONUS: The book provides a framework for spiritual practice to put you on an easy, struggle-free path to happiness, with a different meditation for each day of the week.
10. ON ENLIGHTENMENT
THE BOOK: SIDDHARTHA – HERMAN HESSE
This beautiful novel tells a story of self-fulfillment and enlightenment in the time of the Buddha. Follow the protagonist Siddhartha as he searches for a deep inner happiness – and ends up experiencing significant suffering first. A solid moral tale, not to be missed by anyone who's into Buddhism and Eastern spirituality.
WHEN TO READ IT: At a mere 160 pages, this short book is perfect for quick flights or long bus rides.
GOOD DOER BONUS: The central message of this book is the transience of every part of the human experience – internalize it and you'll be well on your way to enlightenment.