Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

20 Inspirational Books Perfect for Curling Up With on the Couch, As Recommended by Our Readers

person reading

There’s nothing better than curling up on the couch on a chilly day with an inspirational book. OK, fine, having someone nearby willing to fetch you food while reading said book would be better. But besides that, nothing tops it.

So, in anticipation of many more chilly days coming (sorry, someone had to say it), the Muse team has started thinking about what titles we should add to our personal libraries. And while we have list (after list after list) on the site, we decided to reach out to our readers and see what titles you’d recommend for someone who needs a little motivation. After all, you’re always taking our advice—maybe it’s time we took some of yours.

And thank the pumpkin spice in pumpkin spice lattes that we did! The results came in so fast that our Kindles were all like, “Are you sure you want to purchase 20 books—you still haven’t finished The Goldfinch?”

So, with no further ado (and no further thinking about that half-finished Goldfinch), here are the books you recommended we read when we need a little inspiration. Thanks in advance for making our winters a little sunnier.

1. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama XIV

Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

If you don’t like my story, write your own.

4. Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon

The biggest hindrance to learning is fear of showing one’s self a fool.

5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Far from such din, when blessed silence returns, I can listen to the butterflies that flutter inside my head. To hear them, one must be calm and pay close attention, for their wingbeats are barely audible. Loud breathing is enough to drown them out. This is astonishing: my hearing does not improve, yet I hear them better and better. I must have butterfly hearing.

6. Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer

Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

7. Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work Life by Tom Rath

Your overall satisfaction with life certainly matters. But you create meaningful change in moments and days, not years and decades.

8. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.

9. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

There’s really no honor in proving that you can carry the entire load on your own shoulders.’s lonely.

10. Life Is So Good by George Dawson

Things will be alright. People need to hear that. Life is good, just as it is. There isn’t anything that I would change about my life.

11. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.

12. The Saint, the Surfer, and the CEO: A Remarkable Story About Living Your Heart’s Desires by Robin Sharma

The richest person in the world, I’ve since discovered, isn’t the person who has the most but the one who needs the least.

13. Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. by Aliza Licht

If change doesn’t hurt a little, it’s not change. You have to go beyond where you’re comfortable, or you’re not progressing.

14.The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

When I thought about why I was sometimes reluctant to push myself, I realized that it was because I was afraid of failure—but in order to have more success, I needed to be willing to accept more failure.

15. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

Progress comes not only in great leaps but also from hundreds of small steps.

16. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

When somebody says or does something you like. Amen.

17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will earn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.

18. Rising Strong by Brené Brown

I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.

19. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Life is beautiful. Some people just remind you of that more than others.

20. The Success Principles™: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

You only have control over three things in your life—the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior).

Do you have more recommendations? (I know you do!) Tweet me and let me know!