10 Motivational Books to Add to Your 2021 Reading List

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This year has been tough, to say the absolute least. But we’ve almost made it to 2021, which is cause for celebration—and preparation. To start the new year off on the right foot, might we recommend picking up one of these motivational books? Whether you’re feeling stuck in a rut at your job or you’ve been struggling to stay positive, these inspirational tomes will help you have your best year yet.

7 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in December

motivational books think like a monk

1. think Like A Monk By Jay Shetty

Instead of attending his college graduation ceremony, Jay Shetty went to India to become a monk. After three years, a teacher told him he would have more impact on the world if he left the monk's path to share his experience and wisdom with others. In this book, he draws on his time as a monk, combining ancient wisdom and his own experiences to reveal how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that he says lies within all of us.

motivational books drop the ball

2. drop The Ball: Achieve More By Doing Less By Tiffany Dufu

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks that you’re tempted to just say “screw it” and take a sick day? Tiffany Dufu has been there—and she maintains women truly can have it all (a loving family, a high-power job, a gorgeous wardrobe and relaxing downtime included) by “dropping the ball” on things they don’t find enjoyable or don’t contribute to their larger purpose. So go ahead, let that laundry pile up on the bedroom floor. You have some very important yoga to do.

motivational books get over it

3. get Over It! By Iyanla Vanzant

This Oprah-endorsed spiritual life coach helps both fearful people who’ve been worn down by life and angry people stuck in their righteous outrage. “What. If. The. Problem. Is…You?” she asks, meaning that it’s our attitudes, not circumstances, that determine whether or not we live a happy and fulfilled life. Vanzant deploys “thought therapy” exercises, a combination of spiritual tools and the science of neuroplasticity, to eliminate dominant negative thought patterns and emotional energies.

motivational books life changing magic

4. the Life-changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck By Sarah Knight

Riffing on the title of Marie Kondo’s smash-hit The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Knight’s book is all about the art of caring less and getting more. She hilariously lays out rules for ridding yourself of unwanted obligations without feeling guilty, steps for decluttering your mind and tips for channeling your energy toward things that actually matter. The New York Times Book Review called it “the self-help equivalent of a Weird Al parody song,” and we couldn’t agree more.

motivational books professional troublemaker

5. professional Troublemaker: The Fear-fighter Manual By Luvvie Ajayi Jones

There’s a strong chance you know Ajayi Jones from her witty Instagram, her previous New York Times bestseller or her incredible TED talk. Add to the list: Her new book, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, slated to be released in March 2021. Ajayi Jones says, “It is the book that I believe I needed 10 years ago when I was afraid to call myself a writer. It's the book that I need now. I usually like to write the books that I want to read…and I know that if it's useful for me, somebody else will find value in it.”

motivational books big magic

6. big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear By Elizabeth Gilbert

You know and love Eat, Pray, Love, which is why you should absolutely read Gilbert’s most recent book—it manages to be inspirational and empowering without being too sugary sweet. In it, she does a deep dive into her own creative process to share the things she’s learned as a writer, as well as general advice on how to live your most creative life. Gilbert’s passion jumps off the page, and Big Magic is a positive and sunny read.

motivational books soulpreneurs

7. soulpreneurs By Yvette Luciano

Want to pivot from your current work (or unemployment) to a more satisfying job—but afraid you’re not talented, savvy or special enough to support the endeavor? This book, by an Australia-based life coach, maintains that through community, collaboration and courage, you can create a sustainable dream life, no plan B required.

motivational books judgment detox

8. judgement Detox By Gabrielle Bernstein

This best-selling New Thought leader and speaker has come up with a six-step practice that involves replacing negative assessments of others (and yourself) with a sort of Buddhist Lite acceptance. Meditation, a therapy called Emotional Freedom Technique (in which you tap points on your body to re-train yourself toward positive thinking) and prayer add up to a strictly non-denominational, tricky at first but ultimately rewarding method of self-soothing—no credit cards or Chardonnay needed.

motivational books maybe you should talk to someone

9. maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist And Our Lives Revealed By Lori Gottlieb

We’ve been spotting this book everywhere since it came out in April 2019. So, we’re hardly surprised that it’s currently #7 on Amazon’s Most Read chart. The refreshing twist on self-help chronicles Gottlieb’s experience of being a therapist in L.A., while also seeing a therapist herself, while also navigating heartbreak. We’re in.

motivational books rising strong

10. rising Strong: How The Ability To Reset Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent And Lead By Brené Brown

According to research professor and famous TED talk speaker Brené Brown, failure can actually be a good thing. In her fifth book, Brown explains that navigating through the difficult times in our lives is often when we learn the most about who we are.

sarah stiefvater
Sarah Stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...
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