Today I am going to share with you some of the books that have inspired me the most since I became passionate about personal growth. Those books showed me way, and the beauty of our continuous improvement as human beings.
This is going to be an unconventional list: in the Internet, there’s plenty of good reviews of books for personal growth – and I thought it wouldn’t be necessary to add more about those works. They are motivational, brilliant, and inspiring!
My personal list of books for self-growth.
With this post, instead, I wanted to share some of the books that have been very important in my self-knowing and growing process. They’re not necessarily my favourite books – some of them are not even in my top 10! – but they are definitely works that shed some light on my darkest moments, gave me hope, or showed me a new and different vision of the world.
Getting introduced to different points of view is one of the most valuable benefits of reading, according to me!
Maybe you will not resonate with these books, maybe you won’t like them at all. Or you will enjoy them, and discover some precious or inspiring messages. That’s the beauty of life, after all. We learn something new almost everyday: in this way, when we look back at our past self, we are beautifully amazed by how much we have grown up.
Ready? Then, here we go with my top 4!
Tiziano Terzani – One more ride on the merry-go-round
Tiziano Terzani was an Italian reporter with a huge love for travelling, discovering new cultures and being constantly open and curious. He lived for many years in Asia, working as a correspondent, and witnessed many of the most important events that characterized the political and social life of Asian countries in a very wide timespan (starting from the war in Vietnam and the Chinese revolutions, to the more recent events that characterized Japan and Thailand at the beginning of the 90s).
“One more ride on the merry-go-round” is a book about disease and death, but also about finding inner peace. Some years after receiving the diagnose of a stomach cancer and receiving medical treatment in the US, Terzani starts a journey around Asia with the aim of finding and documenting some forms of medicine that could deal with his cancer. Those that in the Western culture are called “alternative medicines”.
With his peculiar, strong curiosity, Terzani compares those techniques with the treatments he received in the US. He sets up a very accurate reportage of some of the most popular Eastern medicines and techniques, such as ayurveda and qi gong. As a curious man, fascinated by Eastern culture, very soon he turned his journey into a beautiful analysis of the ancient Eastern wisdom.
The result is a detailed report of Eastern philosophy from the point of view of a Western man. Moreover, he realizes something deeper and very precious: this path, that started from the outside, at the end comes back to the most genuine and powerful source: the final destination was his inner world.
“One ride on the merry-go-round” was the first book that got me closer to Eastern philosophies. It introduced me to an ancient wisdom I was not aware of. For the first time, I came to a very enlightened realization: knowledge and truth can be only sought within ourselves. That was a very liberating thought for a young girl in her mid 20’s crisis.
Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull
A timeless classic. Every time I come back to this book, I learn something new – I guess that’s because we are on a constant journey towards the best version of ourselves (whether we get there or not, that’s another story).
This is a book about a seagull, Jonathan Livingston, who feels frustrated about his life – mostly spent trying to get food and conforming to the standards of his flock. At one point, the feeling of being inadequate in the materialistic society of other seagulls leads him to a realization. He wants to pursue his passion for flight, no matter what. Day by day, he practices, fails, learns something new, until he manages to get a good technique.
His increased passion for flight leads to his expulsion from the flock. That’s how a new part of his existence starts – with more, interesting encounters, new discovers, until a higher level of consciousness and a new awareness are reached.
This book carries plenty of powerful messages – above all, the importance of pursuing your passions. But that’s not all. There are a lot of reflections about many diverse topics: spirituality, forgiveness, integrity, authenticity, happiness and self-realization.
I read this book for the first time around five years ago. It blew my mind. Every now and then, I go back to it. There are a lot of sentences stuck in my heart that are immensely precious to me.
If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you to find a copy of this little gem and add it to your bookshelf.
Bruce Lee – Artist of Life
If you knew Bruce Lee only from martial arts, you might get surprised to know that he was also a philosopher, avid reader, and multifaceted intellectual. He had many interests, than span over philosophy, poetry, psychology, personal growth. He believed that life is a “work of art” and the way to fully embody knowledge goes through practical experience.
Overall, that’s a book about personal development, with very deep and insightful considerations that are highly influenced by zen and Eastern philosophy whom he got closer to thanks to his kung-fu practice.
One of the most poignant concepts introduced in this book is the importance of developing your own technique – through exploration of different styles and school. Only this can lead to freely express yourself. Technique can’t be circumscribed to a neutral mix of concepts and set of rules, but must be understood first, then embodied, and finally personalized according to everyone’s nature.
In my opinion, this can be applied to our everyday life: be curios, open and receptive. Learn as much as you can, combine your interests and passions and make something unique out of them. In other words, be yourself.
With a fluid and engaging style, Bruce Lee brings the reader on a journey across his inner world for a very deep and engaging exploration of human psychology and sensitivity.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés – Women who run with the wolves
This book left me speechless for many reasons.
First of all, it came at the right time in my life (you may know the quote “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”). At a first glance, one would say that’s a book about women. But there’s much more. Finding the inner centre. Trusting our instinct. Expressing ourself. And, above all, the “Wild Woman” archetype, that permeates the whole book.
Clarisa Pinkola Estés is a Jungian psychoanalyst and a cantadora storyteller. She dedicated most of her life to psychoanalysis specialized in post-trauma recovery and to the collection of old myths and stories, songs and chants from different cultures and traditions. “Women that run with wolves” bring together her knowledge in those fields. Through stories and tales from the most diverse popular traditions, the author offers a detailed and insightful analysis of the feminine psychology.
From the initial and frightful discover of our inner resistances and taboos, to the awareness of our incredible power, to the final reconnection with ourselves, the author is able to guide us through an introspective journey that – if we are brave enough – will lead us to live a life in which we feel identified and fulfilled.
Several topics are treated in this book, so many that I highly recommend you to read each chapter more than once to assimilate every, precious lesson. From creativity to trusting our instinct, motherhood, relationships, sensitivity, inner strength.
A true masterpiece for women of all ages, countries and all backgrounds, who want to start an introspective process of self-knowing and a marvellous journey to their authentic realization.
What about you?
So, here’s the list of my top 4 books. As an avid and curious reader, I can’t spend more than one week without a new book to start, discover and review! Be sure that I’ll be coming back with a new list of books to recommend, but meanwhile… I would love to hear from you!
What are your favourite books, the ones you resonated with, the ones that made you cry, moved you, gave a new sense to your personal growth path?
Feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations, suggestions and reviews.
Reading is a beautiful way to travel in time and space and to grow up and I am sure there’s always a book we didn’t about waiting for us, behind the corner.
Cover image from shotstash.com.