There are few things as transforming as the journey you take when you curl up to a great book. If it’s the inspiration you seek, or you seriously want to change your life, these four books will give you that kick you’ve been yearning for.

An Affair With Beauty – The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy, Romantic Illusions by James Philip Head is the second in a trilogy on the life of Howard Chandler Christy (1872-1952), the most famous painter in America and Europe during the Jazz Age (approx. 1920 – 1929). In this second installment, the author uncovers Christy’s rags to riches life, along with his many struggles as he rises to become the most commercially successful artist of the era.  Growing up as the barefoot Ohio farm boy, Christy later served as a war correspondent and artist during the Spanish-American War, where he nearly lost his life three times. Returning, he achieved fame and fortune with his “Christy Girl” images published in magazines and books. At the age of 35, he became nearly blind, yet his eyesight was restored a year later, a miracle he attributed to God.  Despite the hardships, Christy went on to paint the likenesses of U.S. presidents, congressmen, Hollywood stars, and some of the most famous and wealthiest people of the first half of the twentieth century.   Romantic Illusions is a lush read, as if the author himself, James Philip Head, stepped back in time to uncover the fascinating and mysterious life of Howard Chandler Christy one paintbrush stroke at a time.  To add to the texture, the foreword was written by the most famous portrait painter in America today, Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, who both met with and sketched Christy in his Hotel des Artistes studio in New York City.  Hardcover $18.51, Kindle $5.99, Audiobook $19.95,

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho – I have yet to meet one person who did not absolutely love this book. The Alchemist is an allegorical novel about a young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who has a dream about finding treasure at the pyramids of Egypt.  After this recurring dream, he sets out to find his treasure. During this journey, he meets Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who tells him to sell his sheep to travel to Egypt, and a man who claims to be able to take him to the pyramids, but instead robs him of the money he made selling his sheep to get to Egypt. He then takes up work with a crystal merchant to make the money to continue his journey.  This shepherd boy also meets an Englishman who is studying to become an alchemist and the two travel together to Egypt. Santiago falls in love with an Arabian girl named Fatima and proposes marriage. The boy also encounters a wise alchemist who teaches him how to realize his true self. Throughout the journey, Santiago must make changes and take drastic measures to realize his dream. The allegory is the idea that we all talk about our dreams, but never do what it actually takes to realize them. We also forget the beauty of the journey along the way. Hardcover $17.39, Kindle $11.99, Paperback $6.95,

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail by Cheryl Strayed – Even if you saw the movie featured Reese Witherspoon, you will be transformed by this book.  The story follows the author, Cheryl Strayed, through this cataclysmic personal journey of self-discovery from her mother’s death at the hands of cancer at age 45, and divorcing her husband, to a sudden bold decision to hike solo more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.  With no prior hiking experience, the book intertwines the dangerous and spiritual journey, peppered with flashbacks from her life before the journey. In the face of rattlesnakes and black bears, and intense heat followed by record snowfalls, you feel the authors journey with total discomfort and personal struggles at every shoeless step in the hike. But it’s the strengthening and healing that comes out of this book that will propel you forward! This book not only reached the New York Times bestseller list, but it was also the first pick for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Hardcover $13.79, Paperback $6.75, Kindle $9.99,

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin – This one quote says it all, “The years are long, but the days are short” – Gretchen Rubin. On a city bus, on a rainy afternoon, Gretchen Rubin had the epiphany that time was passing her by and she was not living life to her fullest.  So, what did she do? She took a year to find happiness. In a year, the author takes us on her journey to pack time with opportunities designed to bring her happiness by setting very simple resolutions and being mindful.  Among the things she did to create happiness, she cleaned up her clutter (because every one thing takes up space in your mind), stopped nagging her husband, spent money consciously on things she would actually use, kept a gratitude book, sought more fun in her life, and asked for help.  What’s magical about this book is that it’s ageless. From pre-teens to seniors, everyone can learn a little something simple here. Hardcover $19.69, Paperback $6.00, Kindle $11.99.

Written by Pippa Rodriguez