Top 5 Motivational and Inspirational Books to Read in 2020
Reading for mamas is a proper luxury, isn't is? Raise a hand if losing yourself in a good book is something you keep delaying or postponing or forgetting about? My hand is definitely up.
I love books, and I keep on buying them in bulks: paper, digital, you name it. Sometimes I'll have a minute or two to read a few quotes or flip through a few book pages. This happens before going to sleep when I keep on thinking - oh, I'll read now, but quickly realise that I'll sleep now instead.
That is why I mainly listen to my books. Audiobooks are my saviours. Without audiobooks, I don't know what I'd do…
Audiobooks helped me to stay positive during difficult times. They kept me company when my child wasn't sleeping through the night. If a book is available as an audio version - the chances are I'll buy AND CONSUME IT, like the most delicious chocolate dessert.
I listen to my books while I am cooking, I listen while I am having a bath, sometimes I listen while driving, but not very often as I am an anxious driver. For me, it's easier to squeeze a page of an audiobook in than a paper or digital version. But a friend of mine manages to read a digital book while feeding her little one. So whatever works for you, I suppose.
Below is my take on inspirational and motivational books that I have read in 2020. I believe that every woman and mama, in particular, should read/listen to at least one of these books to keep herself happy and motivated, have a healthier balance in life and learn something new or remind herself about something she’s long forgotten amid motherhood chores.
1. Everything is Figureoutable: The #1 New York Times Bestseller by Marie Forleo
Being the UK based mum, I had only discovered Marie when I started this blog - in April 2020. She was recommended by another blogger as a fantastic coach that helps to achieve your dreams and an inspirational business lady.
The book does not contain new or groundbreaking research into a human psyche. But what Marie does offer is a well structured, well-written titbits on how to plan your day and how to identify top priorities and have a better balance in life that serves as a motivational tool.
Marie opens the small window into her life to let us see her personal struggles. She shows us how she's overcome the challenges thrown at her. She sounds real and down to earth, and that's what makes you want to continue to read the book. She also uses examples of other inspirational women, some coaching clients of Marie's. That I am particularly fond of - to see that there are others who have not given up but instead applied what they've learnt and changed their lives.
The concept of the book is simple and straightforward. But being busy as we are, we often forget that pretty much everything in life is indeed figureoutable. All we need to do is think outside the box a little bit. That's what the book is about. It's a reminder that if we have a goal and add an actionable plan to it - we can achieve anything we want!
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book is such an easy and honest read. Michelle is a gentle storyteller - she takes you by the hand and walks you through her life, as if it is a garden outside your house.
She shows you the people and buildings that were important to her as a child. She lets you in on her secrets, dreams and fears. The way she describes everything - you forget that it's Michelle Obama - it could be your best friend or your neighbour the next door for all you know having a chat with you.
Her life story is not unique or special. It's a life of an American woman, who is a daughter, a mum and a wife. She has her challenges, she is sometimes bitter and angry, she makes mistakes, she is fragile and insecure. But at the same time she is brave, determined and ambitious.
She allows you to see, step-by-step, how certain decisions led her to where she is now, including becoming The First Lady of the United States.
3. Hold On, But Don't Hold Still: Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life by Kristina Kuzmic
This book is very honest, raw and entertaining.
It's a true story of one woman, one mama, who despite all the challenges and difficulties of her life has not lost her ability to laugh at funny jokes. And most importantly she can still laugh at herself.
Kristina is passionate, inspirational and slightly wild - she is an acquired taste. But that's what makes this book unique - it's a unique story of a unique personality.
I listened to it on my compulsory everyday walks with the buggy - on dump and cold winter mornings. I felt utterly exhausted and a little bit like a failure because I could not make my the baby nap in her cot. Kristina made me laugh out laud a few times. Passers by would give me strange looks, but would not say anything.
This book made me realise that everyone is flawed. No one has all the answers. So what that my baby would only nap on a walk - it gave me an opportunity to leave the house and stay fit. I started looking forward to my daily walk around the block as Kristina was there with me, making me laugh and cry at the same time.
4. The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life by Dr Tara Swart
I love personal development books, but they are quite often rather dry, would you agree. I am also a massive fan of fairy tales. And this book appealed to my magic stories loving side it's a bit of a mix of science and magic - my absolutely favourite combination in the world.
The author, Tara Swart is a medical doctor and a neuroscientist. She uses scientific evidence to explain how you could use visualisation, the law of attraction and intuition and other fun methods to achieve your goals. But her language is light, engaging and motivational. You don't feel like you are being lectured or talked at. You feel like you are let in on a secret - a very personal one - by a very close friend who wants you to succeed in life.
Tara uses examples from her life and intertwines personal stories with some tidbits of the stories of her clients. This book helps you to believe in magic just like when you were a child. But at the same time reminds you that it is all scientifically accurate - our brain is capable of those things, and no Fairy God Mothers are needed.
5. Demystifying The Female Brain: A neuroscientist explores health, hormones and happiness by Dr Sarah McKay
Another Dr and neuroscientist on my reading list, I can see a bit of a trend in my book choices.
But I cannot leave this book out as I have thoroughly enjoyed it. As I am always on the lookout for the books written by women, for women and with proper scientific backing, this book is a steal.
Dr McKay explains complex concepts in a friendly and approachable voice. You feel like you want to learn and explore more. This is what she says is an intoridction to the book:
My goal is to take you on a chronological tour across the lifespan to explore how our minds and brains are shaped and sculpted by our genes and hormones, our life experiences, society and culture, our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
The author demystifies things related to PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menopause and other female-specific conditions. Even though they are widely talked about in media, I feel they still have a bit of a stigma surrounding them. This book helps to understand a bit more what exactly is going on in our brain during those truly female specific times.
She has busted a few myths for me. For instance, I thought PMS affects everyone. But apparently even though quite common, it's not something that happens to every woman. We all have our individual cycles and the way our bodies react to things.
This book touches upon depression and anxiety, which is a critical topic, especially in the current situation with the pandemic. Dr McKay talks about the difference between the brain with depression and without and that there is a hope that in future the doctors might be able to recommend antidepressant or talking therapy based on the neuroimaging of our brand. I find it fascinating!
We are halfway through 2020. It's been a challenging year so far, to say the least. The current situation in the world has left me slightly more anxious than usual. So it did not come as a surprise when I noticed that the mandatory lockdown had influenced my book choices.
I opt-in for light or humorous reads. Calmly-paced biographies or general science-based books also feature amongst my favourites. I think I am hoping that they would help me to learn something new but lead me down the path of knowledge gently holding me by the hand.
I am not currently interested in intense, sharp, drive-infused motivational reads. I have not read a single sci-fi or dystopian novel since the onset of the COVID-19. I want my reading time to be lulled by sweet reassuring voices. I want it to feel like I have spent some time in the company of a friend, who cherishes my feelings and sympathises with my fragile state.
What are the books you are reading at the moment?