Every day should be spent looking for something that inspires you. Whether you’re trying to make a work of art or simply looking for a solution to a problem, getting that spark of inspiration will provide the motivation to achieve what you want and become more productive.
Words have power, and a good story should always have a deeper meaning that inspires the reader. Many people will look toward self-help books when looking to be inspired — and while that’s never a bad thing, I’ve always found stories, both fiction and nonfiction, are more effective.
While there’s an unlimited supply of books in the world, the following list are just a small collection of books that can motivate you out of any unproductive slump you may be experiencing.
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
Roughly translated into “he who has found meaning,” Hermann Hesse’s book tells the story of a man whose life, though filled with ups and downs, ultimately provides him with the spiritual fulfillment he desires.
No matter what stage of your life you are in, some part of it will resonate with you — whether you’re leaving home for the first time, planning to get married or are reuniting with a long-lost friend, each moment is special. If you focus less on the could-be’s or would-haves and instead give thanks for the small, wonderful moments, you’ll find the all satisfaction you could ever want.
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Though most people are more familiar with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit is a much easier read and has a message that resonates with more people. Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who prefers his quite life at home, gets drafted for an adventure that takes him across the country.
Along the way, he fights spiders, sneaks past elves, and outwits a dragon. He also discovers that by taking a chance, he discovers a strength he never realized he possessed. Doing something new can be scary, but you can learn some amazing things about yourself by doing so.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig
You don’t have to be a motorcycle enthusiast to appreciate this novel — in fact, Pirsig has a disclaimer in the beginning that states the book “should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”
Though the narrative covers the story of a father and son taking a cross-country trip, the message gets conveyed through the motorcycle maintenance they do a long the way. If you want to accomplish quality work and reach a state of Zen, you need to put your all into the task at hand.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Since its publication in 1960, Harper Lee’s novel has received its fair share of acclaim — and not without reason. We see, through the eyes of his young daughter, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch fight against all odds to defend a client who doesn’t have any chance of winning. The story resonates with many people, and its message is especially powerful.
One of the most powerful lines in the book, said by Atticus to Jem, summarizes it aptly: “…real courage … It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” Don’t cheat yourself by watching the movie first — although it’s a fine adaptation with an amazing performance from Gregory Peck, the book surpasses it in all aspects.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Don’t let the simple prose and drawings fool you — Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) tells a story that can be appreciated by both children and adults. As the narrator, a pilot stranded in the Sahara desert, repairs his plane, he listens to the tales of a young boy — the titular character.
The little prince tells of his life as he as he leaves his home planet in search of something new. Along the way, the boy meets many useless adults whose narrow-mindedness prevents them from truly enjoying life. Sometimes you need to see the world through a child’s eyes to realize how amazing it is.
Inspiration for motivation and productivity can be found in places you’d never dream you’d find them. Storybooks, adventure tales or even autobiographies can give you the motivation you need to finish that project that’s been gathering dust in the basement. They can give you the ideas you need to finish the painting you’ve struggled with. They can make life all the more enjoyable and lift your spirits even in the worst of times.
Reading is an investment in time — but the effort is well worth it every time.