Books That Have Inspired Us
In honour of World Book Day, the Ultimate Library team started thinking about books, and how and in what ways they have inspired us over our many collective years as committed bookworms. This book list contains a selection from each of us on a title that has inspired us, made us want to do better and live better. Reading can spark the imagination in so many ways, and that’s what these titles have done for us. We hope you enjoy them and maybe even end up feeling inspired yourself. Happy World Book Day everyone!
Philip – Coral: A Pessismist in Paradise by Steve Jones
A witty and passionate exploration of all that coral has to tell us about the past, present and future of our planet and humankind. I also love it for the best evocation of desert island life past and present. At a time when we are thinking about how best to value and protect our planet, this book is a celebration of all that is fascinating about nature.
Claire – Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
A friend introduced me to PG Wodehouse some 20 years ago and I fell in love with the Jeeves and Wooster series (so much so that my first guinea pigs were named after the two main characters). The hapless Wooster tries his best to resolve his friend’s dilemmas, often with hilarious consequences, but it is always the brilliance of Jeeves who achieves it and without taking credit for it. Set in my favourite era of the 1920’s, I love all the books in the series but this is the one I enjoy reading the most. I am always in awe of Jeeves and when trying to resolve issues in normal everyday life I often ask myself “what would Jeeves do?”
Lily – Educated by Tara Westover
“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.” Tara Westover’s memoirs are as inspiring as they are unbelievable. Told without self-pity, Westover shares her journey of realisation after being raised in a closed, fundamentalist system. Despite being home schooled and suffering at the hands of mentally and physically abusive family members she’s gradually able to educate herself to a level in which she’s accepted to study at Cambridge. An important message can be taken from Educated, even if you’re born in a place with an abundance of opportunity like the US, there are still people who have no idea how to reach it.
Lucy – In Extremis by Lindsey Hilsum
Lindsey Hilsum’s biography of fellow journalist Marie Colvin’s life is as gripping as it is tragic. Colvin’s journalistic career took her through conflicts across the world, where she witnessed and reported on the most horrific aspects of humanity. Colvin’s ability to write both factually and empathetically about these conflicts are a truly inspirational example of the power of the written word, her articles were able to bring attention to areas that the world wanted to ignore. Witty and extraordinarily brave, but also flawed and insecure, I felt extremely inspired by her fiery nature, her passionate desire to help others and her ability to overcome both an internal and external struggle.
Kaitlyn – Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
When I moved to London eight years ago, I read Solnit’s history of walking, Wanderlust. Solnit gave me whole new perspective on the politics, philosophies and freeing potential of walking. In our daily lives, we take walking for granted, and for many of us, we barely walk at all. After reading Solnit’s fascinating, interdisciplinary book I never treated my walk to the tube the same again. Instead, I approached my exploration of my new city on foot, appreciating the small details, the hidden histories and revelling in my own freedom and ability to move through the world.
Jade – Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
A nameless, genderless narrator falls in and out of the same patterns of love, betrayal and loss in this heart-rending exploration of the heart wanting in opposition of reason and tenderness prevailing through stony exteriors. A beguiling love story for the commitment-phobic and a deeply moving rumination on the meaning of the body, as both a physical and allegorical entity, “Written on the Body” is a thrilling and revelatory illumination of transgressional gender and new ways to live.
Hannah – Once (series) by Morris Gleitzman
This added literary selection from Ultimate Library’s youngest honorary team member is a series of six books that can be read all together or alone. It is about a boy named Felix who is Jewish and the story is set in world war two. With his parents gone and friends leaving, he might not survive but he hopes he will. The stories are quite sad but uplifting as well, I couldn’t wait to read the next book. Although the story is fiction, there are lots of facts too so you don’t even realise it but you are learning about the war.