I’ve been reading since I was 3 years old. That’s not an exaggeration.

My mom and dad used to read to me every night. Sometimes my dad would make up something in the story, and I would say, “that’s not how it goes, Daddy!”

Books have always been a huge part of my life.

I have books piled in my nightstand, on bookshelves, on coffee tables. I can never have too many books.

There’s nothing quite like the feel and smell of a new book, bursting with possibility, just waiting to be opened.

I always share what I learn in books with my family and friends, and I love giving books as gifts, especially when I know a book can make a difference in someone’s life.

My life is better because of the wisdom of countless books, and in honor of World Book Day, I want to share some of those books with you.

Here are 5 books that changed my life:

1. What if it DOES Work Out? by Susie Moore

This book helped me discover my passion for coaching, an industry I knew little about. Susie grew up in poverty and came to New York from Australia in search of a better life. She worked her way up the corporate ladder as a Fortune 500 Sales Director. One day, she realized she wasn’t fulfilled by that life, so she started a side hustle pitching self-help articles to magazine editors and got a life coaching certification. In her book, Susie shares stories, advice and encouragement for anyone who wants to make extra money and do something they love.

Susie’s book encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a life coach. Just a few weeks earlier, I had that fateful conversation with a friend who suggested I look into coaching programs, and I had recently enrolled in the University of Miami coach training program. I hadn’t been following Susie’s blog for that long, but when her book came out, something inside told me to buy it. And I’m so glad I did.

I felt like she was talking directly to me. I had fears and doubts about starting a side hustle – how would I get my first client, would I be good enough, what will others think of me? But I learned how to face my fears and move forward despite them. I pondered over tough questions that forced me to confront failure and rejection. I learned how I could have a successful side hustle as a coach – if I believed in myself. And by the end of the book, I did.

2. The Universe has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

This book came at the perfect time in my life. I’ve always struggled with my faith. I was raised going to church and youth group, I went to a Baptist college where I participated in Greek Life ministry, but I never really felt connected to that faith. Then my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer my junior year of college, and faith and I were on the outs.

In many of her books, Gabby talks about a time in her life when she was at rock bottom. She was in a bookstore when a book literally fell off the shelf at her feet. That book was A Course in Miracles, a study of the Law of Attraction – but before The Secret. Gabby’s teachings are based on what she learned by studying the Course, and before you scroll to the next book on the list, hear me out. I can’t remember where I first learned about this book. It didn’t fly off a bookshelf at me, but it appeared in my life exactly when I needed it to.

I was struggling in a job where I felt misunderstood, not valued and different – like I didn’t fit in. I was used to having coworker friends that I saw outside of work and built meaningful relationships with. I didn’t have that in this job, so I was constantly searching for something to fill that void. When I started reading this book, I was skeptical at first. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tap into my spiritual side after losing my dad at a young age. But I kept reading, and then I read it again, and the messages started to sink in.

Gabby teaches us how to transform our fears into faith. She shares stories of fear-filled times in her own life and how tapping in to Universal wisdom and love released her of toxic patterns and behaviors. This book helped me to forgive – others, myself, the Universe – and shift my thought patterns from negative to positive (psst – here’s a free workbook to help you work through forgiveness). The only way to describe what I felt after reading this book is healed. Today, it’s my version of the Bible, and my sisters and I joke about What would Gabby do? when faced with a difficult situation.

3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

This was one of the first self-help books I ever read, and since then, I’ve been hooked! A close friend and sorority sister suggested this title for a book study session during a weekend retreat. Some of the other women were skeptical, but I devoured the book.

If you don’t know Brené Brown by now, you need to know her. She is a researcher and professor who shares revolutionary ideas on topics including vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. Before reading this book, I never really thought about shame, but I realized we all have it. Shame dictates our thoughts, it hinders us from making decisions, it shapes our lives. This book helped me work through years of shame that I hid deep down. In fact, at the end of every chapter, Brené encourages us to “DIG” deep and get vulnerable with ourselves. DIG stands for Get Deliberate, Get Inspired, Get Going.

Each of her ten guideposts are about letting go of something. I didn’t relate to all ten, but I did relate to many of them, including letting go of perfectionism. The cure? Self-compassion. I struggled with perfectionism my whole life (and to some extent, I still do), but this book helped me break free of the hold perfectionism had on my life. This book inspired me to start speaking kinder words to myself and helped me cultivate a healthy body image. This book gave me the gift of understanding how to be more compassionate toward myself.

4. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

This book is on repeat on my Audible library – I actually don’t have a physical copy of it! I’ve known about this book for years. Several of my friends had read it, but I rolled my eyes at the title (sorry, Jen Sincero). It sounded foofy and pretentious and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Then a friend suggested it for book club, so I had to read it. And boy, did I misjudge that one! At age 40, Jen was a struggling freelance writer who lived in a converted garage and barely made ends meet. Until she got real with herself and took a leap of faith to change her life. She started co-facilitating an entrepreneurial think tank for women, asked a friend to loan her an insane amount of money to hire a coach and started to believe in her ability to create the life she wanted.

This book helped me believe in myself, too. I learned how to silence my inner critic, face my fears, fall in love with failure and trust in the power of putting things “out there.” Here’s an example:

After reading this book in book club, I knew I had to look for a new job. I was depressed and drinking too much and knew something had to change. Once I said those words out loud, everything started to shift. I received a call a few days later from a recruiter about a position working as a consultant for a healthcare organization. At first, I wasn’t sure it would be the right opportunity; after all, I got a call from a different recruiter almost every week. But after speaking with him and learning more about the company, I knew that was the job for me.

My old superstitious self would have kept quiet about my upcoming interviews for fear of jinxing myself. But I was a badass now, so I told the women in my book club how excited I was and how I felt in my bones that this was the perfect job for me. I also let the Universe know how much I wanted the job. Flash forward a few weeks – I nailed the interview (even though I had a terrible cold and thought I blew it!) because I was confident in my ability to be successful, and I believed deeply that this was my job. I attribute that shift, and many other ah-ha moments, to this book.

5. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

In his 20s, Hal was the top salesman in his company and even trained other employees in his methods. One night, a car accident changed all of that: he was pronounced dead on the scene, but after weeks of intensive care and months of physical therapy, he recovered. But it took time for Hal to bounce back from such a terrible accident. He lost the motivation that once earned him sales awards in his company. At the advice of a mentor, he decided to start a morning routine, waking up just one hour earlier than usual. He started small with running and slowly added other activities to round out his experience. Those activities – exercise, meditation, journaling, reading, affirmation and visualization – make up The Miracle Morning.

After reading the book, I knew this is exactly what I needed to give my day more structure. I’m not a fan of exercising in the morning (who are we kidding – I’m not a fan of exercise period!), so I started out with everything but that. I wrote down a plan for how I would incorporate everything into one hour (you can download my free worksheet here), choosing the order that made the most sense for me: reading 10 min, journaling 10 min, affirmations 5 min, visualization 5 min and meditation 15 min. I choose books, journal prompts and affirmations that are relevant to my goals, then follow up with visualizing myself accomplishing these goals. I wrap up my morning with either simple meditation or qigong (chi-gong), a form of meditative exercise.

Starting a morning routine was a simple way to set the tone for the rest of my day. I’m more productive, happy and focused on the days I complete my morning routine. If you’re ready to give it a shot, start with this free morning routine worksheet.

The Takeaway

Books truly have the power to change our lives for the better. When we open our minds to the wisdom of others who overcame tragedy, drug addiction or self-loathing, we can use those lessons to help us in our journey to be healthier, happier women.

To celebrate World Book Day, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win all 5 of the books that changed my life! Enter for free here and don’t forget to share with your friends! You can keep all of the books for yourself or read them and pass them on to someone else who would benefit from that wisdom. You never know when the perfect book will come into your life at just the right time.

What book changed your life? Share in the comments below.

Originally published at www.brightspacecoaching.com