Photo credit: UNSPLASH

Books that can help you be the author of your own life

These three books will inspire you to live bravely.

National Reading Movement (@readingnationSG)

Published: 2 July 2021, 5:55 PM

Being a youth in this day and age is not easy. 

Combining the natural anxieties of a young person with the proliferation of stories and content at our fingertips, it is easy to find ourselves with the gnawing sense of not being enough, of feeling dissatisfied and of being dragged around by the world’s standards and expectations.

While we often look externally to assess our productivity and potential, in celebration of youth month in July, let us consider how we can (and should) reframe our perspectives and motivations from within. 

As Natalie Portman said in her 2015 Harvard commencement speech, “if your reasons are your own, your path even if it’s a strange and clumsy path will be wholly yours and you will control the rewards of what you do by making your internal life fulfilling.” 

Here are some books on ways to tend to our inner worlds, to gain personal growth, to be the authors of our own lives, and to find calmer and braver ways to engage with the world. 

“Whatever You Are, Be a Good One” by Lisa Congdon



Whether you are looking for a quick pick-me-up or push into action, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One is an ideal read. In this fully illustrated book, artist Lisa Congdon hand-lettered 100 inspirational quotes thought-provoking insights, stirring calls to action and timeless advice by some of history’s greatest minds. 

From Walt Whitman’s “Be curious, not judgemental”, to Rumi’s “Look past your thoughts so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment”, this collection of wise words reminds us to be the author of our own lives, and to make the most of it.

Borrow the book here: eBook

“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown



As youth, we sometimes feel too young to know for sure, but too old to admit our inexperience and insecurities. However, Brené Brown explains in her bestselling book (following her viral TED talk) the paradox of courage: when we embrace vulnerability and acknowledge our fear, we become stronger and more resilient human beings.

Daring Greatly maps out how to deal with the thoughts that hold us back and keep us small fears of getting criticised, or crippling self-doubt, for example and presents workable solutions for a more honest, brave and purposeful life.

Borrow the book here: eBook

“How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division” by Elif Shafak



It is easy to feel insignificant and powerless as youth living in these times, when the world seems to be becoming increasingly out of our control and we feel overwhelmed by injustice, suffering and the noise around us.

Yet, this short book by Elif Shafak is a persuasive call to keep our hearts, ears and minds open to others’ experiences and points of view, and we are encouraged to see how we may translate our distress, anger and anxiety into calmer, more productive forces.

This book is also one of the featured titles at Read! Fest 2021 check out the related talks and programmes (all free!) that will take you on a journey of self-discovery. 

Borrow the book here: eBook

For more book recommendations, follow the National Reading Movement Facebook or Instagram, or use the NLB Mobile app to explore and download books for free.

You may like these