I had a patron come in the other day looking for books to inspire him. I must admit that I was not inspired in finding things that day. It got me wondering what exactly would an inspirational book be? Would it be religious, and if so which religion? Does God or a higher being have to be in the book at all? Would it be heart-warming? Maybe, maybe not. I would be interested in some suggestions in the comment section, dear readers, if you would be so kind to add your favourite.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is the first book I read that could be called an inspirational novel. I can’t remember the number of times that I wrote out quotes to my pen pals from this book, especially “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” For those who do not know this novella, it was originally published in 1943 and has been translated from French into more than 190 languages and has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books ever. Though technically a children’s book it is not until you are older that you can understand or even notice its philosophical themes The plot has the narrator crash landing in the Sahara desert where he meets the little prince from Asteroid B-612. The Little Prince has traveled to various planets learning about different lessons each planet can give. Truly a timeless tale that I believe should be on everyone’s must read list.
The next title that inspired me was an older one but a goodie. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach was published in 1970 and by the end of 1972 over a million copies were in print. It reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list for 38 weeks! This tale about a seagull managed to charm a generation. Just the seagull’s name enchanted me. This was one of the first novels I read that expressed the power of going against the majority. Jonathan perfects his flying skills while the rest of the flock both mocks him and is unable to understand his behavior. He believes that he is one-in-a million until he meets Chiang who teaches him to be able to move anywhere in the universe. Jonathan returns to teach others how to free themselves from convention and live freely doing your own thing. I wonder if teens now would be as impressed with this novel as I was. I hope so.
Another novel that teaches the reader a lesson or two, God’s Shrink : 10 sessions and life’s greatest lessons for an unexpected patient by Michael Adamse. What would you do if you were a doctor whose patient came to you with the claim that they were God? The only information that you can get from this patient is their name is Gabrielle and their occupation is architect, no last name, address, phone number or insurance plan. First off you might think they are delusional No matter what Gabrielle says Dr. Richard Johnson is locked in the ideas and beliefs of a physician. So what if the patient is really God and he needs to vent as well. After all he has created imperfect creatures and that leads to frustrations on both sides. This is a delightful little book dealing with life’s lessons.
The Shack is a self-published novel by William P. Young that became #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. One of my co-workers was left pondering about it for weeks. On a camping trip, Mack is able to rescue one child from drowning, but in doing so, leaves his daughter Missy alone. When he returns he discovers her missing. He later discovers Missy has been killed at an abandoned shack in the woods by the Little Ladykiller. The imagery was my favourite part of the book, with God to appear as an old Black woman who calls herself Elouisa, Jesus is portrayed as a middle-eastern carpenter called Papa and the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman named Sarayu. The book addresses why bad things happen to good people in a very interesting and thoughtful manner.
Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard even has the subtitle of “an inspirational novel”. It is the tale of a man who is haunted by his past and troubled by his future. His fiancee becomes very ill and is grasping for her life. On her hospital bed she gives him a mysterious envelope that contains a ticket to an old amusement park. What effect the ticket has on him is magical to read . The novel ends with the question of what was the message on the ticket and invites readers to e-mail the author their thoughts, quite the neat gimmick in my opinion.
Here are some non-fiction books that are inspiring:
Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston
(the movie 127 Hours is based on this title)
The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven
by Kevin Malarkey
Mitch Albom has written a number of books with this theme such as:
Have a Little Faith; and
Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man and life’s greatest lessons.
Hopefully one of these books will inspire you to pick it up and be encouraged.!