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7 Inspirational Books to Start Your New Year Right


books, inspiration, new years, better life, resolutions.

I love the week between Christmas and New Years–it’s the time to visit all the family and friends you didn’t see at Christmas, plan out the new year, and curl up with some good books. I’m happy to curl up with a good book any time of year, but there’s something about reading positive books the week before January that sets me up for a good start.

Here’s my inspirational reading list. To make the cut, the book has to be something I’ve read more than once or am in the process of the second read through. (To those of you who can’t bear to read a book twice, I hear you!! I can only do it with non-fiction.) It must change the way I think about my life. Finally, it must be a book that makes brings joy and earns a spot on my bookshelf.

In no particular order, here’s my list.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

You knew this one was coming as soon as you saw the words, “bring joy” two sentences ago.  I was reluctant to read this one.  I am not tidy.  It takes great effort for me to be organized.  I felt like maybe I was beyond help.

However, as I started reading, all I could think was, “preach, Konmarie!”  She gets to the heart of why tidy people are not tidy.  For once in my life I felt eager about tidying.

I had been on a decluttering journey of sorts for 3 years prior to reading this book, so I thought that my mess wouldn’t be too bad.  Was I ever wrong.

We started with our clothes.  We threw every last scrap on the floor, except for Dominic’s baby clothes I had packed away.  Want to know how many bags of clothes we gave away?  Eleven.  Yes, eleven.

But I felt so. much. peace.  Laundry was easier to do and I wasn’t strangled by never-ending piles of clothes anymore.  I actually liked what was in my closet.

There have been times where a new season has come and I ask myself, why don’t I have any (fill in the blank with essential seasonal item like sweaters)?  But I’ve never regretted it.  The thrill of opening my closet and loving every piece far outweighs the occasional annoyance of having no sweaters.

We haven’t followed every single thing, and we definitely don’t treat our objects as friends, but it has changed our attitude about stuff for the better.

Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

Are you a Christian who struggles with food and weight issues?  This book is your new best friend.

I love how this book is not about calories in and calories out, but gets to the emotional roots of why it’s so hard to get to a healthy weight.

Will you magically get to your goal weight after reading it?  No.  But it might just put you down the right path.

How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

The subtitle to this book is kinda the story of my life, and as I was reading this book, I felt like it was the story of my life so far too.  The biggest take away from this book for me is that you don’t have to be amazing at everything.  Sometimes good + good = excellent.

Are you constantly failing your goals?  Great.  Stop making goals, and start making systems.  When you set up a system, you take will power out of the equation and make it easier for yourself to succeed.

A must read if you feel like your life is not going as planned.

The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood

Having a quarter/third/mid-life crisis?  You need the passion test.

The basic premise is that you make a list of what you would like your life to look like, then narrow it down to 5.  There’s a whole process that’s involved, so it pays to actually read the book.

Though the test sounds simple, it’s actually really hard to narrow it down to five.  The first time I did the test I sweated over my choices, but felt so amazing at the end when I read my final five.

The great thing is, its okay if your passions change over time.  My passion test today would look nothing like the test I took six years ago.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

This is the one exception on my list, as I’ve just finished reading it, but I know it will be one I turn to again and again.

I am the worst at overcommitting myself.  Even in years where I actively try to make more room for margin I still fail.  This book gives me permission to say no.  Not to everything, but to those things that don’t line up with my goals or my season of life.

There’s also lots of amazing quotes and truth bombs, so expect those to pop up on my Instagram feed over the next year.

Simplify by Bill Hybels

This book came to me and the most opportune moment in my life.  I had just spent the past year raising a two year old (who I didn’t know was autistic at the time), teaching 60 music students & 3 choirs in 4 locations, and taking care of my grandma who was in failing health and could no longer live on her own.  Oh, and my husband had to work away from home most of the time, so I was usually on my own.

I had mono.  I was just DONE.

It was probably one of the lowest points of my life.  I had never been so weak or exhausted.  I knew that I could never let things get that bad ever again.

Enter, Simplify.  I clung to this book for dear life.

I applied as much of this book to my life as I could, then I read it again a year later on my mono-versary to see how far I had come.

If you are stressed out to the max, you need this book.

Whoever recommended this one for the LPC bookclub reading list?  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mastery by Robert Greene

Remember that saying that you have to put in 10 000 hours to master anything?  This book is so much more than that.  It will show you how to find what you should master, what your apprenticeship should look like, and how you go beyond your apprenticeship to become the master.

Greene shows you all the rules and exceptions and lays the whole process out very clearly.  Everything is backed up with historical examples, so you can be sure that his advice has stood the test of time.

This book is your blunt best friend to figuring out what to do with your life.  No rah-rah cheerleaders here.  If you are the type of person who really needs that cheerleader then I have for you. . .

Bonus!  The Chalene Show, a podcast by Chalene Johnson

Though not a book, this podcast has been my go-to over the last few months whenever I’m doing laundry or dishes.  You might have heard of her from a little exercise phenomenon known as Turbo-Jam.  She is still involved in the fitness industry, but now helps entrepreneurs master their time and businesses.

Charlene talks about EVERYTHING and I have loved listening.  She is that positive voice in your head telling you “yes you can!”

In the coming year I have plans to blog more about how her podcasts have been making a difference in my life, so stay tuned!

What are your favourite inspirational books?  I’m always on the lookout for more, so I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.


Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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