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For the third installment in our Books To Thrive By series, we’re featuring a roundup of incredible books that can deepen your understanding of other cultures, let you walk in the shoes of people whose lives couldn’t be more different than yours, and alter the very way you see the world.

Leading up to National Book Lovers Day on August 9th, we asked our Thrive Global contributor community to recommend the books that changed them. We were floored by all the incredible recommendations that rolled in. (Don’t miss the first and second pieces released earlier this week, about books that can change the way you approach your career and yourself.)

Each of these books have had life-altering impacts on members of the Thrive community, and we’re excited to share these special reads with you.

Want to evangelize your own game-changing book? Share a photo of the book on Instagram with the hashtag #BooksToThriveBy for a chance to be featured on Thrive’s Instagram.

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

“This timeless best-seller completely changes the way we should all look at life, not just me. By focusing on living rather than dying, these essential lessons from a dying man emphasize living in the moment, being present, and loving life.”

–Jordan Gross, author/ coach, New York, NY

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

“This book made a profound difference in my life. A friend sent me the book after the loss of my marriage, and while it wasn’t a loss to death, my grief was near unmanageable until this book helped me give it context. While I needed to find different ways to heal, the importance of building resilience through difficult times is a concept that the book helped me embrace, and it subsequently helped me on my path toward healing.”

–Stephanie Sarazin, business founder, Apex, NC

The Book of Forgiving, by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu

“I’ve read some remarkable nonfiction books in the last decade, and while they’ve helped me to become more mindful, understand the importance of self-love, and compassion, none have changed my life more profoundly than this one. I’ve read it four times, and I finally understand that forgiveness is not only healing, it’s freeing! The stories of heartbreak in this book and the courageous souls that forgave unthinkable acts of violence and betrayal have given me the courage to face my own heartaches. If you’re ready to explore the healing power of forgiveness, this book gives you the tools, including journaling and writing exercises, meditations and discussion frameworks that will walk you through a proven methodology of forgiveness and rebirth.”

—Diana Silva, entreprenuer, San Francisco, Ca.

The Body Keeps The Score by Bassel Van Dee Kolk

“I hadn’t considered how my past traumas had become physical manifestations. I always knew there was a mind/body connection, but this newfound awareness made me more committed to finding ways to be present in my emotions and facing them head on. I never realized how much physical pain my emotional past was creating.”

–Kole Hansen Whitty, personal trainer, New York, NY

Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth

“It’s the book that made me realize that all of those ‘health tracking’ apps were actually making me less healthy (scale obsessed, under-eating, over-exercising). As a woman who was an overweight kid and has 2 overweight parents, I feared that if I stopped tracking every calorie consumed and burned, I’d be horribly unhealthy. Turns out the opposite is true — my weight has barely fluctuated since the day I deleted the apps over 5 years ago, and my annual physical numbers are AWESOME. Best of all, the book helped me learn to trust myself.”

–Lara Heacock, leadership coach, Philadelphia, PA

If at Birth you Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner

“Zach is a truly remarkable human who tackles every situation with humor and humanity. He’s taken what most people would consider a disability and turned it into a super power. His story reunited me with the person I want to be; it inspired me to enjoy the world, feel the fun in failure, and stay better connected with the remarkable people in my own life.”

–Michael Marotta, communicator, Franklin, TN

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“This book reminded me that no matter how old we are, we are still children with dreams. I read it when I was 7 years old and every year after that as a precious guide in my life. ”

–Julie Christopher, business founder, Phoenix, AZ

The Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff

“This book changed the way I saw the world and reminded me of the power of helping the less fortunate. By reading the incredible life-changing impact Laura had on the young boy she met by chance, it inspired me to do what I can to help others.”

–Joyce Muller, certified social worker, Boca Raton, FL

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

“This book changed my mindset in how I view the minutia of everyday interactions, behaviors and tasks. I read the book sixteen years ago when I was twenty, and it had a profound and unexpected effect on my life. Every seemingly mundane task can be meaningful and beautiful if we are present — it sounds like mindfulness, and it probably is, but for me it has had a profound effect on how I view ordinary moments and interactions. I cherish being present because of this book.”

—Padraig Meredith, teacher, Dublin, Ireland.

Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

“It gave me spectacular insight into the problems that different people face. Though some are far from anything that I would ever deal with, the advice that Strayed provides was universally useful and beautifully written.”

–Zoe Brown, student, Los Angeles, CA


  • Rebecca Muller

    Assistant Editor at Thrive Global

    Rebecca Muller is an Assistant Editor at Thrive Global. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism. She is excited to join Thrive in its mission to accelerate the culture shift and end the stress epidemic.