Top 10 Inspiring Books I Read in 2015

top 10 inspirational books 2015 jtcw

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss

Reading is something I am passionate about.  I never leave the house without a book.  You never know when you will have to wait, and I find that a book always comes in handy during those times.  There are so many interesting things to learn in life, and reading books is one of my favorite ways to keep life exciting and learn about those things I am interested in.  As 2015 comes to a close, I am reviewing the books I have read this year and reflecting on all the wonderful and exciting things I have learned.

I use Goodreads to keep a list of the books I would like to read as well as to rate, review, and keep track of books as I read them.  At the beginning of 2015, I had set a goal for myself to read 26 books.  I only finished 18 books this year, but I also wrote a book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge, so I’m not going to beat myself up for not reaching my goal.  Of the 18 books I read this year, here are my Top 10 Recommendations.  They are listed in no particular order.  Click on the hyperlink or the book image for my review of each.

  1.  A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson shares her reflections on A Course in Miracles and her insights on the application of love in the search for inner peace.  I loved this book!  Marianne is filled with wisdom about life and love, and I truly enjoyed reading it.  There is so much information in here about every aspect of life!  I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is open to hearing the messages in it.  It is the type of book that will appear in your life when you are ready for it.

A Return to Love Marianne Williamson






2.  One Month to Live by Kerry & Chris Shook

What if you only had one month to live?  How would you make each day meaningful?  How would you relate to others differently?  What would you do to make the rest of your life really matter?  This book helped me to realize the importance of living intentionally so I may make the most of my time, fulfill my purpose on this earth, and make the difference I was sent here to make.  This book reinforces what really matters in life:  relationships.  Relationships are eternal, but everything else is temporary.

One Month to Live







3.  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

“Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.”  That was a very powerful quote from the book that spoke to me.  We are ALL artists.    We were created to create.  This book will help you to unleash your inner artist and reclaim that creativity that you may have hidden deep down.  This is the book that gave me the push and the tools to help me write my own book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge, which was published this year.

The Artists Way

4.  Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott with Steve Rabey

“The Columbine tragedy in April 1999 pierced the heart of our country. We later learned that the teenage killers specifically targeted Rachel Scott and mocked her Christian faith on their chilling, homemade videotapes. Rachel Scott died for her faith. Now her parents talk about Rachel’s life and how they have found meaning in their daughter’s martyrdom in the aftermath of the school shooting.”  This book had a huge impact on my life.  Rachel’s spirituality inspired me greatly.  After my first reading of the book several years ago, I began writing letters to God in my journal just as she had.  My letters to God have brought me to a whole new level spiritually, and it is all because of the influence of this authentic 17-year-old girl who just wanted God to use her to make a difference in the world.  She sure made a difference in my life, and I’m sure she has inspired countless others as well.  Her parents also inspire me through their positive attitude, their willingness to forgive, and their belief that God used the Columbine tragedy for the good of the world.

To anyone who has any interest in deepening their spirituality, I certainly recommend this book.

Rachel's Tears

5.  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I loved this book!  I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE.  It may have initially been written to help improve marriages, but the concepts in the book can apply to any relationship.  Once we recognize the love language of our partner, friend, child, etc., we will be better able to show them we care and help to improve that relationship.

The Five Love Languages

6.  The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in living a happy and authentic life and having no regrets when they get to the end of it.  Sadly, death is a subject many people fear and they do not want to think about it until it is too late and they are forced to.  We are all going to die someday.  The sooner we accept that truth, the sooner we will be able to set our own priorities and live a life focused on the things that are really important to us.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

7.  There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer

I love the teachings of Wayne Dyer!  If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say it is about LOVE.  Wayne Dyer passed away this year, but he knew about love and being connected to everyone and everything, and I’m so grateful he is going to live on through his books and teachings so we can all learn to do the same.  I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is open to embracing their spirituality and connecting more with everyone and everything in the universe.

There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem

8.  Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell

I would recommend this book to readers of all ages!  It kept my interest the entire time, and it was a fairly quick and easy read at just over 300 pages.  Whether you are currently a dog-lover or not, you will finish this book with a new appreciation for dogs.

Weekends with Daisy

9.  What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles (Review not available)

After being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, I went back to work for the first time this year, and I wish I had read this book before I tackled my resume and went on my first job interview in over 17 years.  I did get through it and found the perfect job for me (actually, two of them — both part time).  This book is filled with current resources and tips that can be helpful to anyone in search of a job.  This book goes further than general tips as it asks you to really get to know yourself and find out what you are really looking for in a job.  I especially enjoyed Appendix A: Finding Your Mission in Life.  A must read for those in search of a job.

What Color is Your Parachute 2015

10.  The Julian Chapter by RJ Palacio

Wonder and 365 Days of Wonder, both by R.J. Palacio, were both very inspiring to me.  They are some of my all-time favorite books.  The Julian Chapter is the final book that completes the story, and I love this one as well!

The Julian Chapter

For more inspiring books, here are the top 10 books I read in 2014.

Which books have inspired you this year?  Please let me know in the comments below.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Are you tired of making New Year’s Resolutions you can’t keep?

This year, instead of focusing on all the things you want to change about yourself, what if you made a different kind of resolution? What if the only resolution you made was to love yourself more, exactly as you are?

You are a perfect creation just as you are!  You were born with so many natural gifts to share with the world, but when you focus on all the things you think are “wrong” with you or that society tells you are “wrong” with you, your precious time and energy will be spent on the wrong areas and everyone will be missing out on the real gifts you have to bring to the world. Instead, why not focus on being yourself, discovering those gifts, and sharing them with those around you?

marie forleo

When you learn to love yourself unconditionally and live a more authentic life, all of the things you think are “wrong” with you will naturally take care of themselves. For example, if losing weight was going to be your resolution, that will naturally happen when you take the time to love yourself as you are and commit to discovering the emotional cause of your eating habits. Once you are able to deal with and overcome those emotional issues, you will naturally want to care for your body and fuel it with real foods that nature intended us to eat. Then, the weight will fall off naturally. The same goes for any other area of your life that you think might need improvement.  When you begin to live authentically, everything begins to fall into place and your dreams will begin to come true!

If you do want to live a more authentic life and get to know and love yourself more but you don’t exactly know how to do that, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge was written to help you do just that.  It requires just 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day for 31-Days. You will learn to embrace your uniqueness, discover your priorities so you can spend your time and energy on those things that really matter in life, and recognize your gifts and talents so you can share them with the world and fulfill the purpose that you were sent here to make.


So, whatever challenge or resolution you decide to make for this New Year, I wish you much success!

The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge Is Now Available!!

Do you want to live a more authentic, peaceful, and purposeful life? Do you want to live your life to the fullest and use your natural gifts and talents to make the world a better place?  If so, I am SO excited to introduce you to my very first book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge!


This 31-day guided journal will help you learn to recognize your worth, identify your purposes in life, and develop the habits necessary to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.  It is intended for anyone who is starving for a little bit of alone time, or anyone who is willing to dedicate a little more time to get to know and love yourself more. If you know anyone who could benefit from this book, I would be grateful for your recommendation. It is currently available through Amazon here.

Also, if you enjoy inspiring quotes or would like to follow my journey as an author, please “Like” my FB Author page Stacy Rancourt.

Top 10 Inspirational Books I Read in 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, I feel it is important to reflect on the past year and recognize the good things I have discovered.  Reading is a big part of my life.  I love to read, I love to learn, and I LOVE to be inspired.  I have read a lot of great books over the past year, but these 10 have inspired me the most.

I have included links to those I have reviewed (click on the title or the book cover to see the review.)

magic in a book

Here are the Top 10 Inspirational Books I Read in 2014:

10. The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

This book helped me to realize the connection between creativity and spirituality.  Book review coming soon!

The Artists Way

9. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

This book helped to take away the fear of death.  It gave me comfort regarding life after death, confirmed for me that heaven is just as wonderful as I had always believed, and it even excited me about all that awaits us after our purpose on this earth has been fulfilled. The movie was also wonderful!

Heaven is for Real

8. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This book made me more aware of WHERE my food was coming from.  I learned a great deal about eating seasonally and preserving the harvest.  I became more aware of the amount of energy used to transport foods, and I have changed my buying habits to buy local and eat seasonally whenever possible.

animal vegetable miracle

7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

A book filled with wonderful advice.  There are 100 great tips to help you relax and stop stressing out about the little things.

Don't sweat the small stuff cover

6. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

One of my all-time favorites!  Morrie is so full of wisdom and optimism, and I enjoy the way he always focuses on his blessings.  We could all learn from him.  I think everyone should read this book at least once!

Tuesdays with Morrie cover

5. The Charge by Brendon Burchard

This book really motivated me and got me feeling charged about life and some projects I am currently working on.  The book is a great motivator!

The Charge Cover

4. A Quaker Book of Wisdom by Robert Lawrence Smith

This book is FILLED with wisdom!  I LOVED it!

A Quaker Book of Wisdom Cover

3. Dying to Be Me – by Anita Moorjani

I love the message of this book.  This book taught me the importance of being true to myself always.  It taught me that physical death is not something to fear, and it taught me the importance of letting go of all fears and enjoying life to the fullest…now!!  This book reinforces the belief that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that we are all connected.

Dying to Be Me cover

2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

One of the most moving and inspiring books I’ve ever read.  I think everyone should read this book at least once!  I LOVED it!!

Wonder image

1.  Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson

I have read and taken the weekly challenges given in this book each week for over 7 years, and it still continues to inspire me!

Life Makeovers

I have read so many wonderful books over the past year.  It was difficult to choose only 10.  Here are some other books I have read in 2014 that were inspirational, but didn’t make my Top 10:

Which books have inspired you this year?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie

I would like to introduce you to my all-time favorite book.  I just finished reading it for the 3rd time.  It is filled with inspiration, wisdom, love, compassion, gratitude, and all things good.  I think everyone should read it at least once.

I am posting this review this week in an effort to aid in spreading ALS awareness.  As I write this, people all over the nation are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads for the ALS ice bucket challenge (which I also did earlier this week.)  For those who want to gain a better understanding of this horrible disease, I think this book provides just that.  For more information on ALS, or to donate, visit

And now, let me introduce my favorite book:

Tuesdays with Morrie

by Mitch Albom

August 12, 2014 060 crop

Why did I read it?

I rarely read books more than once, but this was my third time reading this book and I could read it over and over again. I was looking for a quick and easy read and as I walked by my bookshelf, this book was there and I just felt like I needed to read it again. And I’m so glad I did! Sometimes we all need a little reminder about what is really important in life, and this book does just that.  🙂

What did I think?

I LOVE this book! Tuesdays with Morrie IS my all-time favorite book! I love it because it is a very quick read, yet it is filled with so much wisdom and advice. It is a great reminder of what really matters in life – relationships, love, and compassion. Through his actions, Morrie shows us that gratitude is the key to happiness. He experiences so much loss as his body gradually withers away, yet he is happy because he chooses to focus on the things he is grateful for. I think this book is a gift to humanity, and I think everyone should read it at least once.  For those who are not into reading, the movie is very good as well!


Tuesdays with Morrie is a story of a wise old man named Morrie Schwartz who has ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). As his body slowly deteriorates, he shares his wisdom and advice on many different areas of life with his former student, Mitch Albom. They meet for 14 weeks, on Tuesdays, right up until Morrie’s death. The topics they discuss include: the world, feeling sorry for yourself, regrets, death, family, emotions, the fear of aging, money, how love goes on, marriage, our culture, forgiveness, and “The Perfect Day.” This book is a result of those interviews, and through their words and actions, Morrie and Mitch show us the real meaning and importance of love, compassion, and gratitude. Morrie wanted to be known as “A Teacher to the Last”, and that he was and still is through this book.  This book was Morrie’s gift to the world, and he and his teachings will continue to live on through it.

My Favorite Quotes from Morrie Schwartz

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.”

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

“I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life.”

“It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say goodbye. Not everyone is so lucky.”

“Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

“If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all.”

“This is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work.”

“Learn to detach. Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.”

“I embrace aging…if you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.”

“You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue.”

“The truth is, part of me is every age. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own.”

“We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.”

“You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.”

“You know what really gives you satisfaction? Offering others what you have to give.”

To find meaning in your life: “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

“Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”

“Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive.”

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”

“I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you’re with.”

“People are only mean when they are threatened, and that’s what our culture does. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself.”

“Here’s what I mean by building your own little subculture. I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. The little things, I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone – or any society – determine those for you.”

“Every society has its own problems…You have to work at creating your own culture.”

“If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own.

“Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.”

Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.”

“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”

“Death ends a life; not a relationship.”

Other Quotes from the book

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ~Henry Adams

“Love each other or perish.” ~Auden

Book Review: Dying to Be Me

Dying to Be Me:  My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani

This is one of the best books I have ever read!  I have enjoyed reading about Anita’s life and learning all the life lessons her near-death experience taught her.


Anita battled cancer for almost 4 years.  When her body began shutting down, she entered a near death experience (NDE) where she discovered the cause of her disease.  She realized she was dying because of all of her fears.  She was afraid to express her true self, which caused her own energy to manifest as cancer.  When she chose to return to her body, she realized she had the power to heal herself.  She knew she would be healed quickly because the root cause of her disease was taken care of.

The book is divided into 3 parts.  Part 1 talks about Anita’s childhood and how she grew up at the intersection of multiple cultures that held contradictory beliefs.  She was exposed to different religious and cultural customs, some of which she did not agree with.  She had to deal with the disapproval of her family and her culture as she stayed true to herself and did not conform to some of their traditions.  Part 2 talks about her NDE, and Part 3 talks about the wisdom and new understandings she gained as a result of her NDE.  The experience completely changed her perspective on life.

My Favorite Quotes From the Book:anitamoorjanibeyourself

“I had the choice to come back…or not.  I chose to return when I realized that ‘heaven’ is a state, not a place…”

“I believe that the greatest truths of the universe don’t lie outside, in the study of the stars and the planets.  They lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind, and soul.  Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without.”

“In that state, I somehow knew that in some way, I was meant to inspire thousands…I just had to be myself and enjoy life, and to allow myself to be an instrument for something much greater to take place.”

“We all have our own way of recognizing that infinite space within us.  For some it may be prayer.  For others, it can be music, art, being in nature, or even pursuing knowledge and technology – whatever brings out our passion, creativity, and purpose for living.”

“To be me is to be love.”

“In sharing my experience and my insights, my only purpose is to ignite the spark of magnificence that lies within you.”

“When we know that we are love, we don’t need to work at being loving toward others.  Instead, we just have to be true to ourselves, and we become instruments of loving energy, which touches everyone we come into contact with.”

“For people to commit unloving acts, they must really be full of confusion, frustration, pain, and self-hatred.  They have to be diseased (like having cancer).  Treating them with contempt only allows the “cancer” to grow in our society.”

“Go out and live your life fearlessly.”

“We all have the capacity to heal ourselves as well as facilitate the healing of others.”

“When we get in touch with that infinite place within us where we are whole, then illness can’t remain in the body.  When we heal others, we also heal ourselves and the planet.  There’s no separation except in our own minds.”

“Our world at any time is a tapestry made up of all our thoughts, feelings, experiences, relationships, emotions, and events up to that point.”

“True joy and happiness can only be found by loving yourself, going inward, following your heart, and doing what brings you joy.”

“Religion is just a path for finding truth:  Religion is not truth.  It is just a path.  And different people follow different paths.” p.18

“I then understood that even if my physical body stopped, everything is still perfect in the greater tapestry of life, for we never truly die.” p.5

My Recommendation/What I Learned

I would absolutely recommend this book!  It is a quick read (only 189 pages) and I found it very interesting.

This book taught me the importance of being true to myself always.  It taught me that physical death is not something to fear, and it taught me the importance of letting go of all fears and enjoying life to the fullest…now!!  This book reinforces the belief that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that we are all connected.

These are the main messages she is trying to relay:

1.  We are all one.

2.  We are love at our core.

3.  We are magnificent.

Anita is trying to let us know that we all need to love and accept ourselves just as we are.  She shared her story to remind us all of our own magnificence and the importance of being able to fully trust our inner guidance.

For more reviews, check out

The “Thank You” Game


One of the books that has had the greatest influence on my life so far is the book “Life Makeovers” by Cheryl Richardson.  This book is broken up into 52 weeks.  Each week focuses on a specific topic and gives advice and tips on ways to improve your life in that area.

I have followed along with this book each week for the past 6 years, and my favorite piece of advice in the book comes from this week before Thanksgiving, Week 47.  The title of Week 47 is called The “Thank You” Game.  Cheryl suggests thanking one person a day for the next week.  It can be a teacher, bus driver, librarian, friend, spouse, child, a parent, postal worker, doctor, etc.  It can be anyone you come into contact with regularly that you would like to thank.  You can thank them by simply writing an unexpected note or e-mail, or by attaching a small gift like a box of chocolates or flowers or anything they might like.

I love this exercise because it is being done out of sincere gratitude, not obligation.  The recipient is usually not expecting anything, so they are usually very appreciative of the gesture.  It is a win-win situation on both sides.  We all love to feel appreciated, and it’s a great feeling to know your small gesture brightened someone’s day.

I am hoping to thank the following people during the next 7 days:  each of my daughters’ teachers, the bus driver, my husband and children, my mom & dad, the librarians at our local library, and the attendant at our local recycle center.  Help me spread the gratitude and love this week by playing along with Cheryl Richardson’s “Thank You” game!