Inspired Reading Suggestions

There are many excellent books to help enrich and support your journey. This list was compiled from the personal library of Karen Ely, founder/director of the Sedona Women’s Institute. They are all books that have touched her in deep and meaningful ways. They’ve been grouped into categories but many of them belong in all five. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this list.




All the Light We Cannot See by Anothony Doerr

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson

Becoming Fully Human by Joan Chittister

Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters at the End by Atul Gawande

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

Daring to Dream: Reflections on the Year I Found Myself by Karen Ely

Deep Water Passage by Ann Linnea

Drinking the Rain by Alix Kates Shulman

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Floor Sample by Julia Cameron

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by   Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I Will Not Die an Unlived Life by Dawna Markova

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton

Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer

Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

Long, Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg

Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

Spot of Grace: Remarkable Stores of How You Do Make a Difference by Dawna Markova

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister

The Hour of Land:  A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

The Woman at Otowi Crossing by Frank Waters

Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel Klein

West with the Night by Beryl Markham

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes




A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

A Woman’s Journey to God: Finding the Feminine Path by Joan Borysenko

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters at the End by Atul Gawande

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Breathing Space: Mini-retreats For the Heart and Soul by Karen Ely

Crossing to Avalon: A Woman’s Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore

Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening by Martha Beck

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There by Sylvia Boorstein

Enduring Lives: Portraits of Women and Faith in Action by Carol Lee Flinders

Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck

Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck

Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott

Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James Doty, MD

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge by Becky Aikman

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion by Diane Osbon

Slow Love by Dominque Browning

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Buddhist Path to Simplicity by Christina Feldman

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

The Tao of Leadership: Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age by John Heider

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn




A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

Attitudes of Gratitude by M. J. Ryan

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender

I am a Woman Finding My Voice by Janet Quinn

Plain and Simple by Sue Bender

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck

The Second Half of Life by Angeles Arrien

The Three Marriages:  Reimagining Work, Self and Relationships by David Whyte

Time Shifting by Stephan Rechtschaffen

Trusting Yourself by M.J. Ryan




A Retreat of My Own by Karen Ely

A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson

Breathing Space: Mini-retreats For the Heart and Soul by Karen Ely

Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk

Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte

Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte

I Sit Listening to the Wind by Judith Duerk

The Woman’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden

Walking: One Step at a Time by Erling Kagge




A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting it Right by Bill Bryson

For Writers Only by Sophy Burnham

Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice by Christina Baldwin

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg

On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft by Stephen King

One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory by Maureen Murdock

Walking in this World by Julia Cameron

Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg

Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise DeSalvo

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Writing for Your Life by Deena Metzger




A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motives Us by Daniel Pink

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The Corner Office: Indispensible and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed by Adam Bryant

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Galdwell

Think Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


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