wholehearted living

8 Books to Inspire You to Do Life On Purpose

Years ago, when a customer threatened to get me fired, I read Brené Brown that night to remember that I am worthy, no matter what anyone may say.

When my brain feels like it’s on overload as I try to keep up with our family’s schedules and a daunting to-do list, I’ll flip through Essentialism to help me refocus on my real priorities.

When my heart feels heavy with the sadness and struggle we see in the world, I’ll read a chapter of Love Does and remember that there is beauty and wonder—and lightness and hope—out there; I just have to be open to it.

Aside from my relationships and my faith, I don’t think anything has shaped me as much as the nonfiction books I’ve read.

Each of the books I’m sharing today have become an old friend—something I can open and read even just a few paragraphs from when I know I need a certain message.

I hope some of these titles become old friends for you, too.

(Psst! Don’t miss the giveaway—five books for one lucky winner—at the end of this post!)

8 Books to Inspire You to Do Life On Purpose

1. The More of Less by Joshua Becker

I imagine you’re familiar with Joshua’s writing at Becoming Minimalist. His work is always insightful yet to-the-point, and what I consistently notice is how he puts his own spin on each topic, making me think about it in a totally new way. This is a must-read for any who is looking to live with less in order to make room for a different kind—a better kind—of more.

2. Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs by Marc and Angel Chernoff

This book is best suited for someone looking for really practical ways to get back to a happy headspace. It was born out of a low point in Marc & Angel’s life, and together they share exactly what they did to slowly but surely pull themselves out.

3. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin

You may know I’m obsessed with this book. Because—When you can intentionally make something a part of your routine, there’s power there. But in addition to convincing her readers of the power of positive habits, Gretchen gives us the best, most ah-ha-moment inducing tools for establishing them. (Her more recent book The Four Tendencies is an excellent followup if you want to dive deeper, but I’d start with Better Than Before.)

4. Minimalism for Families by Zoë Kim

You know how some books are all inspiration no application? This is not one of those books. If you feel like you’re drowning in your family’s STUFF, then I highly recommend this book. Zoë will take you through your house room by room and help you pare back. Funny thing—I bought an extra copy and gave it to a friend, and then she lent her copy to another friend… Basically, this book is making its way around my local friend group, and there’s a good reason why. 🙂

5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Great balls of fire, the whole world should read this book. I’ve written about it before {5 Takeaways from the Best Book I’ve Read All Year}, and although it’s been a few years since I read it for the first time, it’s still at the very top of my list of life-changing nonfiction reads. The premise? Eliminating nonessentials lets you live at your highest point of contribution. #micdrop

6. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff

Bob Goff sees the world and faith and love exactly the way I want to see the world and faith and love. His book is a collection of engaging stories (like the time he got rejected by his first love or the time he accidentally became an ambassador) that perfectly illustrate each lesson he took away. It is one of the most uplifting reads out there, and I cannot wait to get my hands on his latest book, Everybody Always. (PS. I especially love the audio version, because Bob narrates it.)

7. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence by Rick Hanson

Doesn’t this line say it all? “Transform your brain into a refuge and power center of calm and happiness.” This book is foundational for understanding how your mind works. Perfect for a brain-science junkie like me.

8. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

I love how even the subtitle sets up this juxtaposition—true belonging vs. standing alone. It’s fascinating how to really have the former, sometimes you have to be willing to do the latter. Brené once again hits it out of the park, touching on all of her signature subjects—vulnerability, authenticity, courage, and a sense of home. One thing I didn’t expect is the cultural / political overtones, but it’s a subject our world needs, so… well done, Brené.

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me to earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Life On Purpose Movement! 

The Giveaway

Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to our winner, Tracie McCulla! 

I love these books so much that I’m giving a copy of each of the first five titles to one lucky winner! Think of it as a comprehensive collection for living a more purposeful life. (Yessssss!)

Even more exciting—Joshua Becker offered to send me his book signed!

I’ll be mailing one person these 5 books:

Have you read any of the eight titles above? What else would you add to this list?


  • Reply
    Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads.
    June 9, 2018 at 12:07 am

    […] Also, here are 8 Books to Inspire You to do Life on Purpose. […]

  • Reply
    June 9, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for these recommendations. I love self-help books too! A book which I love to dip into is “Only Love Today” by Rachel Macy Stafford. It’s split into bite-size segments so I can read a little while recovering from whatever mini-drama is taking place and then I am inspired to start again.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 10, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      Oh so true! I should have had that one on here! Thanks for reminding me—It’s a gem.

  • Reply
    Jeff Cinadr
    June 9, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Erica, thank you for this list. I haven’t read in a while and your post inspired me to go straight to the library website halfway through it and reserve as many of these titles as they had available. I’m a big fan of Josh too and just finished reading his book for the second time, but now I’ll have some more old friends to go to.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 10, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      I’m happy to hear it, Jeff! I go in spurts too, especially nonfiction. Hope you enjoy some new titles!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Erica I loved this article!! Self help books are amazing! Been waiting to get the Brene Brown book, will wait and see 😊. Recently moved and minimalism got ahold of me. Need to do more as I have boxes I haven’t unpacked in 3 months! Thank you so much for this opportunity! ❤

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 10, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Happy to share them, Kathy! Thanks for being here!

  • Reply
    Ivaylo Durmonski
    June 9, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Cool list. I also love Essentialism. It’s like everything you want to know about simple living, right?

  • Reply
    June 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    I’m just finishing the book The year of less by Cait Flanders… I HIGHLY recommend this book!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      Oooh, good one, Missi! I’ll definitely put that on my list! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Gina Agodong
    August 6, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you for the list. I love the “More of Less” book. It brought me back to focusing on what’s important in my life.

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