A book makes a great gift at Christmastime or at any time. Especially if you want to treat yourself! Here are ten of my favourite good reads for someone who likes to get the best from life.

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I’ve read this book several times as have many people. It’s one of those books that seems to deliver something new each time you read it. Yet it’s just a simple fable. It tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling to far off places. He decides to follow his dreams, learning many life lessons along the way. His adventure teaches him and us that we should always chase our heart’s desire and listen to what our heart tells us.

2. How to be Brilliant by Michael Heppell

I first heard about this book as I listened to the author’s interview on Radio 2 a few years back. I was captured by the simplicity of the ideas he presented for making changes in one's attitude and actions. I ordered the book there and then and have re-read the whole of it time after time. Michael Heppell is from Northumberland and maybe it was because he was the first non-American author I had read on this subject that he struck a chord with me or maybe it was just that he wrote in a way that made me believe brilliance was mine, if only in a small way. There are other books by Michael and lots of videos on YouTube of his public speaking engagements. Check him out.

3. The Idea in You. How to Find it, Build it and Change Your Life by Martin Amor & Alex Pellew

If you’ve ever had an idea for something that could change your life: a product design, a business, a book or a hobby, this could be the title to help you make your dream become a reality. Practical and simple ideas for getting the idea out of your head and into the big wide world where you and others can enjoy its benefits. If you don’t have a great idea yet, read The Idea in You for some inspiration.

4. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

This is one of those unusual cases where the film came before the book! In 2006 Australian TV writer and producer published this book which is based on the belief that our thoughts can shape our reality: “The law of attraction.” As you read this book or watch the film, it all seems to make perfect sense. The trick is to put the suggestions into practice to make your own life easier to control. Once you make new habits, success and happiness follow.

5. You Only Live Once: A Lifetime of Experiences For The Explorer in All Of Us

Mae West said: “You only live once but if you do it right, once is enough.” Too many people get to the end of their life and regret not having filled it with interesting experiences. This beautifully illustrated book is stuffed with fulfilling ideas. Some of them are big costly travels and some are simple ideas that you can try close to home and cost next to nothing to have a go with. I bought this for my daughter who loved it and couldn’t wait to start checking off the experiences listed in the book and even start making a list of her own.

6. The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker, Darrell Woodman & Amy Bradley

Who remembers how confusing teenage life was? How I would have loved a book like this when I was in my teens. Something to fill me with inspiring ideas and self-worth.

The introduction to this book says it all… “Don't be a cliché. Don't stay in your bedroom grunting and grumbling. How about getting motivated, energised and start making a difference?! The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager teaches you how to become your very best self—and how to figure out who that is, exactly.”

7. The Gift of Imperfection by Brené Brown

I discovered Brené Brown when I stumbled on her TED Talk on YouTube. Life in the 21st century is a mass of pressure. All around us, people we know, people we don’t know and the media are telling us what we should be, how to think and act in every aspect of our lives. Brené Brown explores how we can build the courage and compassion to wake up in the morning and decide that no matter what gets achieved and what gets left undone, we are enough and should not feel ashamed. The book is a lesson in personal bravery.

8. Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Another book that is also a film. This is a work of fiction, the message of which has been adopted by many people throughout the world. A 12-year-old boy takes on a challenge by his teacher to come up with an idea that will change the world for the better. His idea is simple: each time someone is the recipient of a good deed, they have to pay it forward by doing something good for three other people. The story does have elements of tragedy but it is still filled with hope and inspiration.

9. May I Have Your Attention Please by James Cordon

Personally, I am not usually a great lover of celebrity autobiographies but this one, I adored. I completely understood the very small boy who stood on a chair at his baby sister’s christening and discovered that by acting the fool, he had the power to make the congregation laugh. James Cordon is a much-loved comedian, writer, actor and TV personality. Thankfully, when his school teachers told him he would never amount to anything, he refused to believe them and despite rejection after rejection, he made it to the very top of the entertainment game. This book should be an inspiration to anyone who has been told they don’t have what it takes to succeed.

10. Chicken Soup for the Soul compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Ok, this is cheating. There are actually about 250 books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and each one of them is a collection of true stories curated by Mark Victor Hansen and one of my favourite motivational speakers, Jack Canfield. The first one I read was the original which contained 101 motivational stories and it made me feel so alive that I wanted to read more.

As someone who is interested in songwriting and music, I particularly enjoyed the edition called The Story Behind The Song. There are Chicken Soup books on almost every subject that relates to human beings: relationships, cancer, pets, teens, family, divorce, grieving…. the list goes on. Basically, there’s a Chicken Soup book for everyone!

Happy Reading!

Leave a comment with your favourite books for inspiration!

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