Inspiring Books That You Need To Read

By Eco-Age

From collected essays to memoir, award-winning fiction to non-fiction reflection, the books that truly inspire readers stay with us for years. Here are a few of the Eco-Age team's favourites.


The Eco-Age team's passion for reading inspired us to set up a book club last year - and 12 months later, we still find ourselves constantly swapping and recommending books to one another in the office. After a luxurious summer of reading, we asked the team to put forward the books that have inspired them throughout their lives. We all have those few books that stick with us for years to come - whether it's an inspiring autobiography or a powerful work of fiction, they're the stories we find ourselves recommending time and time again at dinner parties or re-purchasing for birthday and Christmas presents. Here are a few of the books that have inspired our team - and hopefully will do for you too.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

Recommended by Sophie

As a self-professed perfectionist with a distinct fear of failure, reading Elizabeth Day’s part manual, part biography felt like somewhat of a therapy session. Heartbreakingly honest but told with a degree of humour, Elizabeth Day covers everything from failing at sports to dating and tests. Woven through the book are anecdotes from her podcast guests, from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to David Nicholls, further documenting how even the most successful of us have had to embrace hurdles along the way. 

Sapiens by Yuval Harari

Recommended by Liz

I found this book utterly fascinating and original. I learned so much from it and it really changed the way I think about concepts such as society and collective belief systems. Throughout the book, Yuval Harari really hones in on the development of human society and our impact on the world around us. Leaving us with a sense of how we are shaping (or destroying) humanity’s future with our current actions. I had plenty of profound realisations while reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who’s curious to learn more about humankind and the forces which have shaped our history, and which continue to shape our present and our future.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Recommended by Julia

This was the first book that ever made me cry - and I mean, howl. As much as I loved The Kite Runner, I always recommend Hosseini’s second novel to friends and family look for a story to devour. Set in Kabul, this incredibly powerful story focuses on the close relationship between two female protagonists, Laila and Mariam, who are both unhappily married to the same abusive husband. The women’s intertwined stories are set against the backdrop of the Taliban’s rise to power.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree

Recommended by Caroline

Isabella Tree looks closely at a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex in this page-turning memoir and reflection on the ecology of the countryside. Introducing free-roaming livestock to she and her husband's land at Knepp, Tree has witnessed firsthand the positive impact that rewilding and encouraging biodiversity can have in even a short amount of time. An inspiring and hopeful story for wildlife lovers.

Jog On by Bella Mackie

Recommended by Sophie

Bella’s book begins with her heartbroken, riddled with anxiety and unable to run for more than three minutes at a time. As the book progresses she starts to fall in love with running, and the consequent calmness that comes post-run; her detailing of how running soothes her anxiety is enough to make you want to get up and run there and then (not great when you’re stuck on the tube, mid-morning commute). This honest reflection of mental health and Bella’s story helped me to fall in love with running again, spurring on a training plan I needed to begin and getting me up and out on morning runs before work. 

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Recommended by Julia

A short non-fiction work by James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time comprises of two essays formulated as letters; Down At The Cross: Letter from a Region of My Mind and My Dungeon Shook - Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation. When first published in 1963 during the emerging civil rights movement, the work was a bestseller. Examining racial injustice and the legacy left for future generations, Baldwin's era-defining voice is one of clarity and determination.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Recommended by Becca

Hanya Yanagihara's second novel A Little Life is an emotional epic, following the stories of four university friends from their days living together as students through to maturity amd well into adulthood. Shadowed by historic trauma, the complex characters become so familiar and alive in Yanagihara's writing and the proximity to the narrative feels at times alarming. A difficult, gripping and beautiful story.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Recommended by Lori

Following no from Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes On A Nervous Planet is personal narrative looking at how to feel happy in the 21st century. As technology develops and we become more and more connected, anxiety, stress and rates of loneliness are on the rise, encouraging a constant concern and worry for individuals which is creating societal and global panic. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recommended by Julia

What began as a TEDx talk in 2012 has become an essential work in feminist literature. Sampled by Beyoncé in the 2014 anthem Flawless, Adichie's puts forward her case for an extensively inclusive definition of the term in this short and succint essay. A must-read.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Recommended by Sophie

I’m a big Jodi Picoult fan, I’ve read pretty much all of them, but this novel in particular educated me on the issues facing women’s reproductive rights in America. Though fictional, the story is grounded in truth, set in ‘The Centre’, the only women’s health clinic left in Mississippi. Perhaps the most influential aspect of the book is the author’s note at the end, detailing the research that went into the book and highlighting the truths to the fictional narrative. The best kind of books make you question your beliefs, and this one truly made me understand a different side to a story I thought I very much had my mind made up about. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Collins

Recommended by Liz

This has to be one of the most poignant and heartfelt depictions of a corrupt and racially-prejudice society, made all the more accessible by the fact that it is seen through the eyes of a child. The deep sense of injustice and powerlessness which you’re left with has haunted me ever since. I read this at a quite young age and it was my first real insight into how a system can be so fundamentally corrupt and discriminatory. I think that the fact that Atticus’s efforts to fight a corrupt system are ultimately thwarted is also an important life lesson - just because you don’t manage to change something doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth fighting for. I think this is something that we can apply to many life situations.

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Inspiring Books That You Need To Read