The best uplifting and transformational stories that could change your life

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning and USA Today bestselling South African author, social anthropologist, and transformational life coach. Human transformation and the question of human social nature are key themes in all of my writing, which explores the experiences of people on the margins or with a background of overlapping cultures. I am a book dragon who loves reading adventures in almost every genre and that broad scope of my reading explorations has wormed its way into my writing style which, though broadly defined as fantasy, encompasses elements from other styles in a rich and ‘aromatic’ blend.


I wrote...

The Companion's Tale

By Astrid V. J.,

Book cover of The Companion's Tale

What is my book about?

What happens when life pulls the rug out from under your feet? How do you keep on living when all the plans and purpose you knew are snuffed out in a heartbeat? Elaine is thrown into the deep end and her life unravels before her eyes when the princess she serves dies in a tragic accident. All of a sudden, Elaine doesn't have a purpose. Alone and drifting, she realises the princess' death may not have been an accident at all, and things spiral even further into chaos.

This is a novella exploring our human capacity to find true meaning and explore what it is we really want in alignment with our true selves.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom

Astrid V. J. Why did I love this book?

This deeply moving tale in Coelho’s well-known philosophical style was my first-ever conscious encounter with key principles of transformation. I’d read some of his other books but although they were uplifting, this one resonated so powerfully I realised it contained keys to unlocking my own self-exploration. It touched me so deeply I created a list of quotes that resonated with me and kept them close, even learning some by heart.

By Paulo Coelho, Julia Sanches (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pilgrimage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this gripping story, Paulo Coelho is on a quest for the ultimate in self-knowledge, wisdom and spiritual mastery.

Guided by his mysterious companion Petrus, he takes the road to Santiago, going through a series of trials and tests along the way, even coming face to face with someone who may just be the devil himself. Why is the road to the simple life so hard? Will Paulo be strong enough to complete the journey towards humility, belief and faith?

The Pilgrimage paved the way to Paulo Coehlo's international best-selling novel The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are…


Book cover of The Seven Lives of Grace

Astrid V. J. Why did I love this book?

This charming contemporary romance with a touch of magical realism totally hit the spot. It’s all about Grace’s transformation from an overworked, underpaid, unappreciated individual into a person who achieves her potential and flourishes. It’s one of those beautiful allegorical tales about finding your true self so you can become who you were meant to be. Totally uplifting and left me with all the warm and fuzzies.

By Elena Shelest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Lives of Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She has only seven days to choose her destiny...

Grace leads a fairy-tale-free existence in the rainy Seattle, struggling to provide for her frail mother and younger sister. But when a mysterious package arrives from her eccentric aunt, she is suddenly thrown into a whirlpool of unusual events.

Named the next "carrier of the gifts", she has only one week to sort through her supernatural inheritance or lose it all.

But in this story crystal slippers don't fit, "fairy godmothers" don't show up, and prince might not be so easy to charm.

As Grace blunders through unpredictable magic that challenges…


Book cover of The Samurai's Gift

Astrid V. J. Why did I love this book?

Don’t be fooled by the cover! This might be marketed as a children’s book, but the message about the mind-body connection is so beautifully and brilliantly portrayed, this becomes a book for everyone. We have more power than most of us believe, and many have no idea how to tap into that power, but this book, if used correctly, can become a focal point for the most powerful mental shift you’ve ever taken. It’s a beautiful story with absolutely mind-blowingly brilliant illustrations that bring the whole thing alive and crystalize the visualization that you could implement into your own life.

By Kristi Shimada, Eko Setiawan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Samurai's Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Yoshi's illness transports him into another world, where he journeys with his favorite Samurai and encounters a dragon! It is a magical story that uses imagination and visualization to help children heal their bodiy, mind, and spirit.


Book cover of The Neverending Story

Astrid V. J. Why did I love this book?

You cannot change the past, but your actions today can inform the future. That is the message I subconsciously internalized from reading and re-reading this book. I had the great fortune of having the beautiful illustrated German hardcover edition that is printed in two colours: red and green; one for Bastian reading the book, and the other for Atreju on his adventure to save Fantasia. I’ve always adored Ende’s knack for taking the mundane and twisting it into something utterly magical, and in this book he does that with extra flare, which is why I believe it is his most popular book, although he’s written many other amazing books too.

And I love the message that because the future is what you make of the now, and that all life is cyclical there is no end. Some themes are picked up and perpetuated by new generations, while others are transformed and become something entirely new with the passage of time. Read this book as an adult and I can guarantee it will change how you see intergenerational experiences of life. It’s deep and beautifully written.

By Michael Ende, Ralph Manheim (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Neverending Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Read the book that inspired the classic coming-of-age film! From award-winning German author Michael Ende, The Neverending Story is a classic tale of one boy and the book that magically comes to life.

When Bastian happens upon an old book called The Neverending Story, he's swept into the magical world of Fantastica--so much that he finds he has actually become a character in the story! And when he realizes that this mysteriously enchanted world is in great danger, he also discovers that he is the one chosen to save it. Can Bastian overcome the barrier between reality and his imagination…


Book cover of The Chronicles of Narnia

Astrid V. J. Why did I love this book?

I did not have the fortune to experience this collection of magical tales as a child. I was in my twenties when I read the first one, and I totally fell in love with Lewis’ beautiful, uplifting, and deeply moving messages about life, purpose, and the power of good and evil to rule our lives depending on the thoughts we pursue. I adore the messages Lewis has woven into these stories. Whenever I want a pick-me-up, I’ll revisit one of these wonderful novels.

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Chronicles of Narnia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don’t miss one of America’s top 100 most-loved novels, selected by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Experience all seven tales of C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, in one impressive paperback volume!

Epic battles between good and evil, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds, and friendships won and lost all come together in this unforgettable world, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years.

This edition presents the seven books—The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The…


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Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

Book cover of Price of Vengeance

Kurt D. Springs

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Cook Barista Guardian

Kurt's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Liam was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a soldier. After being cut off from the city, Liam finds that there is an alien intelligence behind the chitin. To defeat it, he must discover who he is and how to use his powers. Then, Liam discovers that a traitor, responsible for his birth parents' deaths, had murdered his beloved foster parents. Will the price he has to pay in his quest for vengeance prove to be an even more unbeatable foe?

Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

What is this book about?

"From the cover to the opening pages, Price of Vengeance grabs the reader and takes them on a wild ride. Fasten your seat belts for this book." -S. J. Francis, author of Shattered Lies

What is the Price of Vengeance? One could understand why Liam was angry. He was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a…


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