Books to inspire you

There’s nothing like a good book to curl up with during the chilly winter months. Whether you’re interested in new journeys, new interests, new habits or a new you, these books will serve to inspire.

The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner

It’s a little like listening in on a private conversation. Three women from three different faiths — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — get together to discuss their faiths, feelings and customs. Naturally, there are some disagreements and hurt feelings along the way, but the book tackles some difficult topics (like prejudice) to promote understanding. It’s an opportunity to learn about the differences — and the similarities — among these faiths.

The Wonder Years: Portraits of Athletes who Never Slow Down by Rick Rickman and Donna Wares

Who said anything about retirement? These athletes prove there’s no age limit for champions. The book offers portraits — both in photos and in words — of senior athletes who compete in many sports, from running to swimming to body building. (We should all be so lucky to be able to do 200 push-ups at age 75!)

Passionate Longevity: the 10 secrets to growing younger by Elaine Dembe

Not only is she a powerful motivator, Dembe’s an expert on stress resiliency and longevity. Here she shares the ten principles she believes lead to a life that’s not only longer, but healthier and more active. Each section explores one such topic — like sociability, creativity, mobility or vitality — and offers stories, practical tips and ideas on how to achieve each one.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo

What if you could talk to more than two hundred people who have lived happy lives and asked them what their secrets are? That’s exactly what John Izzo did for a Biography Channel series in which he interviewed 230 people aged 60 – 106. The book captures what Izzo learned through his research about how to live a successful and happy life. (For a sneak-peak at the secrets, see’s Q&A with Izzo in How to live a happy life.)

Wisdom: 50 Unique and Original Portraits by Andrew Zuckerman

The basis for the book is the idea that the best gift one generation can give to another is wisdom. Zuckerman offers this gift through a series of portraits which combine photographs of and quotes from 50 famous and influential thinkers — all of whom are over the age of 65. His subjects include celebrities and leaders alike such as Clint Eastwood, Judi Dench, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall and Buzz Aldrin.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow.

It’s a tradition for professors to give a “last lecture” to impart some final words of wisdom, but in Pausch’s case the event took on extra meaning. His lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”, wasn’t about his impending death from cancer. Instead, it was an inspirational speech about living that became a hit around the world. The book captures and expands on the beliefs Pausch explored in his lecture, and the book has since become a best-seller. (For more information, see Zaslow’s article in the Wall Street Journal here.)

The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life by Gene Cohen

Who says creativity is just for the young? Many artists, composers and writers create some of their best work during the second half of their lives. Cohen explores the power behind this “Creative Age” and how age and life experience, along with a willingness to bend or break the rules, makes people over age 50 a creative force to be reckoned with. In addition, find out how boosting creativity can contribute to a sense of well-being and ward off a host of ills — including sleep and mood disorders.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Is there a writer in you or in someone you know? This book will help overcome those initial stumbling blocks and help get those creative juices flowing. It’s part Zen wisdom and part instructional guide, and the focus is on the practice of writing, not the rules. Goldberg’s other books, such as Wild Mind also explore the topic of what it means to write and how to live a creative lifestyle.

The Travel Book: An A-Z Journey Through Every Country in the World from Lonely Planet

Dreaming of your next trip? Instead of focusing exclusively on one area, The Travel Book profiles every country on the planet. Not only do these glimpses provide a mini map and some photos (with personality, of course), they’ll also tell you when the best time to go is and what experiences shouldn’t be missed. Other tidbits include film, food, music and surprises you might find on the journey. This isn’t your typical travel guide but it’s packed full of ideas to cure a serious case of wanderlust.

If you’re looking for experiences rather than destinations, 1000 Ultimate Experiences has something to suit every traveller and wish list.

Global 200: Places that must survive by the World Wildlife Fund

Whether you’re a photography buff, armchair traveller or environmental enthusiast, this book will be welcome on your coffee table or in your library. Stunning visuals underscore the important message that some of the world’s most beautiful and precious resources are at risk from climate change, poaching and conflict. (As an added bonus, $1.00 from every book goes to the World Wildlife Fund.)

365 Ways to Save the Earth by Philippe Bourseiller

Yes, it’s okay to choose a book just for the pictures — especially when those images encourage environmentally-friendly practices. The book features daily tips to help the environment paired with stunning photos from around the world. It’s easy to read and accessible for people of all ages — making it a great book to share with the kids and grandkids.

It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh

Looking to downsize or get organized this year? This guide examines the “clutter problem” and offers ways to tackle it — including a room-by-room guide to tackling “too much stuff.” (And yes, there’s advice for getting the whole family on board.) The book came out ahead of the current economic crisis, but its message is especially poignant in light of recent events. (You may recognize the author from The Learning Channel’s Clean Sweep — he’s their organizational expert.)

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber

The premise: a group of widows meet to celebrate Valentine’s Day — and find hope for the future. They each start a list of things they’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance. The story follows the heroine, Anne Marie Roche, and one special relationship that changes her life — and proves that life has a funny way of surprising us.