The best books to inspire a big life change

Brooke Baum Author Of Moving Away: The Emotional Side of Leaving
By Brooke Baum

The Books I Picked & Why

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

Why this book?

Who doesn’t love a book about travel, treasure hunting, magic, and following your dreams? But it is so much more than that. This is one of those books that stays with you. And if you read it at the right moment, it stirs something up inside of you that empowers you and helps you to feel like, despite all the obstacles, the universe may be on your side after all. 

For me, The Alchemist was given as a gift after I announced my husband and I would be moving from our hometown to pursue a new life across the country. Reading it confirmed my decision and made me take a different perspective on what following my heart could lead to.


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Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild

Why this book?

Even if you have already seen the movie version of Into the Wild, I highly recommend reading the book. It has so many more details and insights that help paint a more complete picture of the fascinating true story of Chris McCandless who sought freedom from the world of materialism that no longer served him. 

While extremely well written, this isn’t an easy book to read - especially for those of us who relate to the desire to go off into the wilderness and abandon the stresses of modern life. It pulls at your emotions and tends to inspire and frustrate you at the same time. However, that’s why I enjoyed it. I appreciate that the author shows the multi-faceted nature of being human and how even the brightest among us struggle to find the right balance in life. And I think it asks an important question all adventurers should ask, how far is too far when chasing a dream?


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The Great Divorce

By C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce

Why this book?

This is my favorite book of all time and permanently changed the way I look at life. While the story is focused on the idea of heaven and hell, you don’t have to believe in either to benefit from the perspective shift this book offers. It’s deep and powerful.

Lewis uses a story about a man traveling from hell to heaven to point out the ways us humans tend to keep ourselves bound to misery. It’s an important read for anyone wanting to overcome pessimism or who feels like joy is constantly escaping them. As Lewis says, “All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”


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Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson

By Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson

Why this book?

Because I strongly believe that a successful transition into a big life change is more about having a good attitude and positive outlook than any planning or logistics, here is another book to help make those important mental shifts.

Tuesdays with Morrie tells the powerful true story of the author’s time spent learning from his dying college professor who was a beloved mentor to him as a young man. Morrie candidly shares the most important lessons he learned throughout his life as well as what he was experiencing and thinking as a dying man. But the best part is how these lessons affect the author and how his life changes because of it. This book is powerful and uplifting - one everyone should read at least once.


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The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

By Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Why this book?

While my go-to books obviously have a deeper lean to them, you don’t always have to have a spiritual awakening or read a harrowing story of adventure to be inspired to make a change. Sometimes you just need someone to lay out a plan for you. That’s what Ferriss does in The 4-Hour Workweek.

I must say, this is a pretty dangerous book. Within a year of reading it, I had quit my desk job, convinced my husband to do the same, and we had set off to reclaim a life under our own terms. While Tim’s path was wildly more successful than ours, and caution should be taken, his tips do have a lot of merit and he pushes you to think about work in a much different way. Overall, it empowers you to take more control of how you use your time and gives some actionable examples to do that. I still use many of these tactics years later!


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