Top 10 inspirational books

Guide to the most inspirational reads

Looking for a bit of inspiration? Check out our top 10 inspirational reads — books which will definitely drive you on to your goals, whatever they might be!

The inspirational Nelson Mandela

Conversations with Myself – Nelson Mandela

Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela is considered by many to be one of the most inspirational people of all time, having worked tirelessly – and faced prison – to help bring about his dream of ending apartheid. Although many books have been written about the life of Mandela, Conversations with Myself offers a more intimate look at the iconic former South African president. Compiled from a collection of Mandela’s letters, taped conversations, prison diaries and other personal recordings, this book gives unique access into the private thoughts of this world leader throughout his remarkable life; creating a read that is not only compelling and fascinating but utterly inspiring for anybody longing to achieve their dreams and make a difference.

Screw It, Let’s Do It — Richard Branson

This book is a handy introduction to the global entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who built the Virgin business empire and succeeded against the odds. Screw It, Let’s Do It talks about achieving your goals by really believing things can be done. The sleeve gives a good indication of what you can expect from the book when Sir Richard says: ‘People will always try to talk you out of ideas and say: “It can't be done” — but if you have faith in yourself you'll find you can achieve almost anything.’ This book is light and inspiring — and at only just over 120 pages, it’s a much quicker read than Branson’s full autobiography, ‘Losing My Virginity'.

Taking on the World — Ellen MacArthur

In her autobiography, Ellen talks about going from scrimping to buy her first boat right through to sailing in the Vendee Globe — the world’s toughest race — and becoming the youngest person and fastest woman to have single-handedly circumnavigated the globe. Taking on the World is an enthralling and inspiring account and shows how courage, passion and determination can overcome all obstacles and help a person to achieve a place in sporting history. The book gives the reader a genuine insight of exactly what MacArthur went through — and you’ll feel like you’ve been on the same emotional rollercoaster by the time you’ve finished it!

You Can’t Take It With You — Jane Tomlinson and Mike Tomlinson

An inspiring story about from someone who refused to be beaten despite a terminal illness. Jane Tomlinson, who was diagnosed with cancer, achieved the incredible goal of reaching a £1 million charity fundraising target by putting her already aching body through some difficult and challenging experiences. This book takes you through her cycle ride from John O'Groats to Lands End (during which she stopped twice for chemotherapy en route), then through her incredible ride from Rome to Leeds, and finally out to Florida for her full Ironman triathlon! Undoubtedly, it’ll bring a tear to your eye and remind you of the power of the human spirit.

The Crossing: Conquering the Atlantic in the World’s Toughest Rowing Race — James Cracknell and Ben Fogle

Olympic rower James Cracknell and non-rowing TV presenter Ben Fogle made the decision to compete in the grueling Atlantic Rowing Race — which involves rowing across almost 3,000 miles (4,828km) of ocean between the Canary Islands and Antigua. The epic journey at times became a living hell for the two — as you’ll see when you read this extraordinarily honest account from both men about their participation in the race. You’ll have to read it all the way through to find out how they got on during the race — which saw some of the worst weather that the bi-annual event had ever experienced. The experience certainly changed both men — and reading this book will probably do the same for you.

Yes Man — Danny Wallace

It’s very easy to say ‘no’ and turn down an opportunity in life — but this book is about what happens when you decide to say ‘yes’ to everything. If you feel like your life needs a kick-start, then take your cue from Danny Wallace — who one day met a mystery man on a late-night bus who told him three words that would impact greatly on his life: ‘Say yes more.’ In the months that followed, Danny said ‘yes’ more and enjoyed many life experiences that he ordinarily wouldn’t have — which proves what potential is out there if you just happen to say yes to everything that comes your way. Do yourself a favour, and say yes to reading this book!

danny wallace writer of yes man

The Greatest Adventure — Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones

This book chronicles what is considered to be the last great adventure of the 20th century as Piccard and Jones became the first and only men to complete a non-stop round-the-world balloon flight — which involved traveling a whopping 28,431 miles (45,755km) in just under 20 days! It’s a very moving, witty and inspiring account, and is full of so many twists, turns and suspense that it reads more like a fictional novel rather than a genuine account of a historic adventure. Even if you don’t have any prior knowledge of ballooning, you’ll clearly realize from reading the book how formidable their achievement was. Their account demonstrates how teamwork, courage, and a bit of luck can help you go a long way — literally!

500 Ways to Change the World — Global Ideas Bank

This is a book of 500 inspired ideas from around the world which would cost nothing to implement but could enhance all our lives. The ideas are a mix of suggestions — some of which have been turned into reality and others that haven’t, but all of which are undoubtedly great initiatives. The ideas range from the wacky — such as a ‘Boomerang Day’ when everyone returns all the things they’ve borrowed over the course of the previous year — through to ones that could benefit charitable organizations such as donating air miles. The great thing is you can just dip into the book and read an inspirational idea as and when you like.

Long Way Round — Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Actor and motorcycle fanatic Ewan McGregor indulged a dream and decided to take off with fellow actor Charley Boorman to try and ride all the way around the world. On a whim after poring over a map, McGregor noticed it was possible to complete the whole journey by road (with the exception of just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska). Riding 20,000 miles across increasingly tough terrain, the two passed through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, before traveling across the Pacific to Alaska and riding down through Canada and America. Long Way Round is the result of their adventures, and is a fascinating, frank and highly entertaining travel book about two friends riding around the world together and realizing their dream against the odds.

A Lifetime in a Race — Matthew Pinsent

In addition to his talent for rowing, Olympic athlete Pinsent shows himself to be an excellent and witty writer in this book. Partly written in diary form, A Lifetime in a Race takes you through the highs and lows that competitive rowing brings. It's much more than a book about rowing, though, and comes across as a guide to achieving your goal in whatever sport you’re interested in. From his first moments in a rowing boat as a teenager through to Olympic success in Athens, it’s a great account of the dedication and tenacity required to achieve a dream. The book also gives some interesting insights on the dynamics and relationships within rowing teams and between rivals. If you want inspiration, look no further!

Comments (1)

  • paulwilson 'The book mentioned with James Cracknell and Ben Fogle is also available as a documentary DVD - not saying you should be watching the tv but really does show what they went through - will be looking forward to reading the book also.'

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