Staying positive during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 was not easy. Between the public health emergency, socio-economic impact, and political turmoil, there were many difficult situations that we had to contend with. While we understand that hope should never be set aside, many people felt as if the pandemic was a harbinger of worse things to come, but we know this is not the case. In the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, good news started arriving in the form of vaccination campaigns; this is something we should all celebrate even though we cannot do it in the festive social gatherings we are used to.

If you have been affected by the pandemic in terms of human or economic loss, the New Year should be a time for hopeful reflection. The pandemic will not be fully under control for a few more months, but it is important to feel positive in the meantime. When things start getting better, and they will, you want to be emotionally prepared for the positive changes; to this effect, you may want to evaluate the inspirational books listed below and see if they should be added to your reading list in 2021.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Roughly about a year before the World Health Organization announced that the spread of SARS-CoV-2 had turned into a pandemic, Lori Gottlieb delivered a TED talk that became one of the most watched in the history of the conference series. Gottlieb also published this memoir, which quickly became a best-selling title. The gist of this book is the realization that the author, who is a psychotherapist, came to when she felt that her life had turned into such a mess that she had to seek therapy. If you enjoy breezy and entertaining reads, this book will certainly interest you; moreover, Gottlieb will be played by the glamorous Hollywood actress Eva Longoria in a future television series based on the memoir.

Immortal Self

Aaravindha Himadra’s books on are available in English and German; they tell stories of self-discovery through journeys and through learning from ancient practices. Unlike most of the books on this list, Immortal Self does not explicitly offer everyday advice related to self-help topics; the goal is to let readers decide upon the kind of inspiration they wish to glean for their own benefit. The book itself is very peaceful even when the author writes about challenging experiences.

Big Magic

We tend to associate creativity with individuals who make a living through artistic endeavors, but the truth is that we can all benefit from developing creative thinking. Author Elizabeth Gilbert is widely known for Eat, Pray, Love, a best-seller that was turned into a popular film starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, but her latest book is different in the sense that it dials down the saccharine content. The creative thought process that Gilbert has been able to develop over the years can be achieved with reasonable effort, and she feels very comfortable sharing this experience with her readers. While passion certainly plays a part in creativity, there are also many practical aspects of being creative that we can incorporate into our lives in order to foment positive habits.

Judgment Detox

In Western philosophy, we are used to thinking that all the answers lie within ourselves, which means that we constantly resort to judgment. Author Gabrielle Bernstein advocates a different way of thinking, one that takes a simplified version of Buddhist thought in the sense that it eschews judgment, which tends to be negative, and replaces it with global awareness instead of introspection. Judgment Detox can be described as a six-step guide to acceptance, and it can be refreshing when you resolve to throw off some of the weight that is constantly upon your shoulders.


This book was originally published in 2011, but it racked up quite a few new sales during the initial months of the pandemic. Author Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian who does not claim to know or understand what makes us tick; instead, he goes all the way back to prehistory in order to present what has been making us tick over thousands of years. The writing style used by Mr. Harari is erudite yet unpretentious, and he packs the entire book with breezy discussion of facts that are both amazing and elucidating. By the time you get to the final chapters of Sapiens, you will start to understand why the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives so much.