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As we're all spending our days indoors at the moment, it's easy to feel bored and uninspired — particularly once you've finished binging your favorite Netflix series and every cat video on YouTube. Unless, of course, your reading list is pre-stacked with inspirational and motivating books.
Whether your goal is to finish the book you were reading last summer, revisiting one of your favorite reads, or finding something new, there's no time like the present to up your literary intake. Reading will not only help you escape your living quarters but it's scientifically proven to boost your mental and physical health. So, if you're looking ways to stay sane while you're self-isolating, picking up a good book should be on top of your to-do list.
For those lacking ideas, the Highsnobiety teams in both Berlin and New York City offices have shared what's on their reading list. This time, we asked staff to share the books that have inspired them the most — motivational reads, philosophy books, memoirs, novels, or poems.
Scroll down for the best inspirational books to read while you self-isolate.
Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion
"The modern time we live in is full of weird and fearful shit, and this book helps you make sense of it all. Rather than tackle the complex topics of religion and politics, it explains why our brains make us act the way they do. It's a wildly refreshing psychological and behavioral take on the two topics that nobody wants to talk about, and it's a great way to change your perspective this year. It'll help you understand yourself, develop compassion for people who aren't like you, and the best part: it'll make you look f**cking intelligent when the homies see it on your coffee table."
— Naina Kamath, Digital Distribution Manager
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
"Maggie Nelson’s memoir, The Argonauts, isn’t technically an inspirational book. I don’t even know if you would call it a memoir. But it’s definitely one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. It pretty fundamentally changed the way I thought about love and family and sex and gender. Nelson writes so beautifully about art, literature, the limitations of language, and even her own butthole. Something this poetic and thoughtful feels especially valuable right now."
— Isabelle Hore-Thorburn, Weekend Staff Writer
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature
"Hume is the philosopher's philosopher, and he has cracked my mind wide open into understanding and appreciating that I am an irrational being governed by my passions. Accepting that, no matter how smart I am, I am never going to ever act based on reason and intellect has weirdly helped me process a lot of my behavior in the past year. And if that weren't enough, Hume also has a god-level hat game, giving me serious headwear inspo in addition to the psychology hacks."
— Jake Boyer, Features Editor
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
"I stumbled upon this book while searching for new reads at my favorite library in Bologna. I'm not sure what kind of book I was searching for, but this title appeared in my searches and intrigued me right away. Once I picked it up, my mind was completely blown away. Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist from the island of Martinique, which is technically still a French colony.
With Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon breaks down the impact of colonialism on black identity through his experiences in Martinique. He shares his theories on how French colonialism affected the way people spoke and acted, but also how they viewed themselves and the colonizer. Though it's specific to the people of Martinique, it actually applies to all people of color today and is pretty relatable, although it was written in the ’50s. This book has put into words things that I didn't know how to explain, and rehashed some wounds in the process. If you're in for a life-changing read, I urge you to check it out. Once you've done, go check out Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth."
— Feleg Tesema, Staff Writer
Harrel Fletcher and Miranda July, Learning to Love You More
"I have a lot on my favorite reads list at the moment — Ocean Vuong, Rachel Kushner, Lisa Taddeo, Rachel Cusk, Anna Burns — but Miranda July’s Learning To Love You More remains a go-to for such a simple reason, and it has done since it was first published in 2007.
For me, an inspirational book is one that pushes me towards what I love to do most — sharing, writing, and reading relatable stories, and that’s what Learning To Love You More is. Through a collection of submissions, the book compiles tales told through pictures of fits people wore the night they lost their virginity. Written scripts of phone calls they wish to have but never will. Advice they’d give to their past self. DIY projects centered around making encouraging banners and taking pictures of people holding hands. The book so fucking wholesome, honest, and unguarded — it’s the gift of a window to a world most are too embarrassed or scared to share, which is usually where the magic happens."
— Heather Snowden, Senior News Editor
Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
"I photographed an event where Vuong was reading excerpts from this debut novel. I had only heard of him going in, but I left that night as a fan of his work. This semi-autobiographical novel takes on the form of a letter from a son to his mother, and Vuong's words were so captivating that I found myself feeling emotional and empathizing with the life of a narrator whose hardships I had never personally experienced."
— Emma Li, Editorial Intern
Toby Young, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
"This is by no means a good book, but hear me out. Toby Young's memoir of his brief stint at Vanity Fair is a no-holds-barred glimpse at the halcyon days of glossy magazines during the '90s. It's juvenile, crass, gossipy, and a pretty decent guide on how not to navigate New York's editorial labyrinth. Think of it as the anti-Devil Wears Prada. Even though it's literary junk food, I consider it a motivational book in the sense that it sets a pretty low professional bar for someone at the "top" of their game, which is kinda encouraging. By the way, don't bother watching the movie."
— John Lockett, Senior Features Editor
Ariana Reines, A Sand Book
"Sure, it’s not your typical inspirational book, but I picked up Ariana Reines’ poetry book A SAND BOOK last year and have found it to be extremely helpful. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth called it “mind-blowing” — and it really is! Reines speaks in a deadpan but incisive tone as she interrogates feelings towards climate change (and the grief of a dying planet), sex, love, prophecy, social media narcissism, generation iPhone, violence, distance, and parasitic capitalism. There is a certain apocalyptic feel to it, too, which although I didn’t realize when I bought it, offers a strange comfort and sense of calibration in these times. It’s also a great entry point for those who want to get into, or back into, reading poems as opposed to novels."
– Max Grobe, Associate Style Editor
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
"I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is among the best I've read. The premise is pretty simple: flu wipes out most of humanity and the remaining survivors take shelter in an airport. It's less bleak and a bit more hopeful than Cormac McCarthy's The Road but you still get a good dose of "what if?" Given the current situation, I'll be rereading it and likely a few others in this genre that I never got around to like Stephen King's The Stand."
— Brock Cardiner, Editorial Director
Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence
"This was just released earlier this month, so I'm definitely adding it to my reading list for 2020. As a journalist, I've come across and admired Solnit's writings in different contexts but never fully in a book. She has a really poetic, figurative, yet personal and relatable way of writing that I think will be interesting to see in the form of a memoir."
— Emma Li, Editorial Intern
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