The written word is an amazing thing. It can be entertaining, instructive, or even revolutionary. It can make you laugh, cry, and cheer, often at the same time. Books can show you new worlds and redefine old ones. Most importantly, however, books can inspire you and change your life. This list, while not definitive, is the Beliefnet editors’ attempt to bring together the 100 most inspirational books ever written.
But what, exactly, makes a book inspirational? As we combed through hundreds and hundreds of works, we found that to be a difficult question to answer. For example, take the great spiritual works that are treasured by the world’s major religions. Which book should hold the number one spot? Entire wars have been fought over the answer to that question! And since the goal of this list is to inspire you and not to incite heated religious debate, we made the explicit choice to leave such books off of the list entirely. You’re not going to find the Bible or the Koran on here, despite the fact that they are considered an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
Many of the books on this list were extremely divisive, with some editors arguing for them and others against them. Very few of our selections had 100% approval across the board. Ultimately, however, we decided that if the book had been deeply inspirational to at least one person, if they could argue for why that book changed them profoundly, it deserved a spot on the list.
We will be debuting a new section of this list each week for the next six weeks, leading up to our selection of the number one most inspirational book. You'll rediscover old stories you had forgotten about and find new, inspiring gems you’ve never heard of. We hope you enjoy reading this list as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
100 - Little House on the Prairie»