The best books to inspire you to change your life

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an American author and writing teacher for both Harvard and Oxford’s online writing programs. I am also a mother of two who lived three years in a tiny backyard guest house with my family in an effort to focus more on what we love. Editing books is a practice I have honed over decades, and when my family was stuck in a living situation that felt unsustainable, the clearest way forward was for me to ask myself how I might edit our way out of it. It worked! In this book, I share the most valuable eight principles that we learned through the process.


I wrote...

Edit Your Life: A Handbook for Living with Intention in a Messy World

By Elisabeth Sharp McKetta,

Book cover of Edit Your Life: A Handbook for Living with Intention in a Messy World

What is my book about?

Grounded in my 20+ years’ experience editing books and teaching writing, this book takes eight versatile editing principles and shows how they can be easily applied to any life.

In the words of one of the reviewers, Elizabeth Filippouli, Edit Your Life is “a book of distilled wisdom and a life-transforming guide inviting readers to personalize what an ‘edited’ life means to them and what they need to let go.”

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know about Getting and Spending

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did I love this book?

A candid look at how we spend and how we feel about our spending. Vanderkam braids examples from her own life with deep research and statistics on the relationship between happiness and money. A memorable, practical read that I refer to often.

I love all of her books—she is definitely my continuing education for adulthood—but this one is probably my favorite.

By Laura Vanderkam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Money in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How happy would you be if you had all the money in the world? The universal lament about money is that there is never enough. We spend endless hours obsessing over our budgets and investments, trying to figure out ways to stretch every dollar. We try to follow the advice of money gurus and financial planners, then kick ourselves whenever we spend too much or save too little. For all of the stress and effort we put into every choice, why are most of us unhappy about our finances?

According to Laura Vanderkam, the key is to change your perspective.…


Book cover of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did I love this book?

A single read of this book saved me hours in the years that followed. Newport looks critically at how we bring technology into our lives and suggests that we hold a higher bar to which digital tools we allow into our days.

This book got me rethinking my balance of deep work (what only I can do, when at my best) and shallow work (needing less focus/expertise) and how my digital tools support or disrupt that balance.

By Cal Newport,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Digital Minimalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to switch off and find calm - from the New York Times bestselling author of A World Without Email

'Digital Minimalism is the Marie Kondo of technology' Evening Standard

'An eloquent, powerful and enjoyably practical guide to cutting back on screen time' The Times

'An urgent call to action for anyone serious about being in command of their own life' Ryan Holiday

'What a timely and useful book' Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

Do you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social media or the news while your anxiety rises? Are you feeling frazzled after a long day…


Book cover of Organizing from the Inside Out

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did I love this book?

This book is a gem! This book is a gem! Its common sense about organizing is sound and wonderfully useful.

It is humbly written, sweetly funny, and applicable to many areas of life. It is the book I reread whenever I am stressed out, the book whose principles have impacted how I teach, write, parent, and organize my home and my life.

By Julie Morgenstern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Organizing from the Inside Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling guide to putting things in order. Put America's #1 organizer to work for you.

Getting organized is a skill that anyone can learn, and there's no better teacher than America's organizing queen, Julie Morgenstern, as hundreds of thousands of readers have learned. Drawing on her years of experience as a professional organizer, Morgenstern outlines a simple organizing plan that starts with understanding your individual goals, natural habits, and psychological needs, so that you can work with your priorities and personality rather than against them. The basic steps-Analyze, Strategize, Attack-can be applied to any space or…


Book cover of The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did I love this book?

One that I give to anyone who is stuck in a pickle. Saunders’ book for young readers, illustrated in the oddball style of Lane Smith, tells of a girl named Capable who does her best and finds that it is still not good enough. So she makes an unthinkable change.

Reading this book to my children led to a eureka that we might change our own family life in a similarly unthinkable way.

By George Saunders, Lane Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gapper is a bit of a 'burr' but it is a dangerous thing. When it attaches itself to the goats the goats become very unhappy and even stop giving milk. There is nothing gappers like more than goats and nothing goats hate more than gappers. When gappers get your goats it means trouble. In one small town gappers are a real pest and it takes the ingenious approach of Capable to find a soution - if a solution exists at all.


Book cover of For You When I Am Gone: Twelve Essential Questions to Tell a Life Story

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did I love this book?

A powerful case for thinking deeply and clearly about what legacies we leave behind for those we love.

Leder suggests that an ethical will—unlike an ordinary will—be a summary of our life’s wisdom. Asking such questions as ‘What do you regret?’ and ‘When did you lead with your heart?’ Leder offers a wise and inspiring way to live a life of value that is a blessing for others to remember.

By Steve Leder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For You When I Am Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller!

From the bestselling author of The Beauty of What Remains, a guide to writing a meaningful letter about your life.

Writing an ethical will, a document that includes stories and reflections about your past, is an ancient tradition. It can include joy and regrets, and ultimately becomes both a way to remember a loved one who is gone and a primer on how to live a better, happier life. Beloved Rabbi Steve Leder has helped thousands of people to write their own ethical wills, and in this intimate book helps us write…


You might also like...

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

Leslie Tall Manning Author Of Maggie's Dream

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mentor Laugher Research nut Avid reader

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Winner of the Literary Titan Book Award

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family’s happiness.

But Marilyn’s quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by…

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

What is this book about?

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family's happiness.

But Marilyn's quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb…


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