Even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, there’s something about January that just feels like a fresh start. Audiobooks are a terrific way to explore strategies for personal growth and healing. In addition to having no embarrassing book covers, the intimate presence of an encouraging voice in your ear silencing those self-defeating thoughts can really refresh your outlook. Instead of music, try motivational audiobooks for the perfect soundtrack to invigorate your new workout routine. Here are some inspiring audiobooks for various tastes.
Meredith Atwood’s “The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and Move on with Your Life” challenges us all to do just that with engaging vulnerability and wit. Ironman triathlete and podcaster Atwood dares the listener to live each day as the best version of themselves, by recognizing and tackling their own “nonsense,” those self-defeating and negative behaviors and beliefs we all fall prey to. Her goal is to get listeners to better know and trust themselves, peeling the onion of deceptions and evasions to get at the root causes of their troubles.
Atwood’s own story is refreshingly far from exemplary. “Try writing a book about nonsense, when you’ve just eaten four bowls of cereal after dinner.” Atwood’s easy, plainspoken reading is a perfect fit for her prose. The voices of many popular, profanely titled inspirational books strain for sassy authenticity that rings false. Atwood reads in a measured, matter-of-fact way that feels like truth-telling. Her tone is that of a compassionate coach, with practical tips and exercises punctuated with wry asides delivered deadpan, with just a hint of a smile. It is a potent performance that will motivate many listeners to face their demons, and to finally go after the life they want.
If you’re feeling discouraged, you might enjoy Jess Ekstrom’s boisterous pep-talk, “Chasing the Bright Side: Embrace Optimism, Activate Your Purpose, and Write Your Own Story.” The CEO of Headbands of Hope, which donates headbands to kids with cancer, Ekstrom relates with winning enthusiasm and wit her own entrepreneurial misadventures, and her belief in the power of positivity and following your passion beyond limitations and setbacks. Ekstrom’s compelling message of hope, perseverance and adaptability is rendered all the more effective as conveyed by the author’s ingenuous voice. Brimming with heartfelt ardor, Ekstrom offers up a booster shot of youthful, can-do attitude for the tired or dispirited.
Perhaps you’re not out to conquer the world, and just finding some comfort and joy would be enough. For a more settled positivity, check out Elizabeth Gillies’ “Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World.” Gillies’ warm, mellifluous narration reflects her background as an actress, while her thoughtful, wide-ranging observations about how to better appreciate the things we love show her to be a skilled essayist. Going beyond the conventional trappings of coziness, Gillies explores the deeply personal nature of what we cherish, enhancing our appreciation for simple pleasures. For any reader who found Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” too vague about that whole “sparking joy” thing, here’s a whole delicious, eye-opening book on the topic.
Make new friends easily. Let go of anger. Have more fun. These are just a few of the valuable pieces of canine wisdom related by beloved humorist Dave Barry in “Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog.” Feeling older but not much wiser, Barry realized his dog, Lucy, was aging much more gracefully and happily than him, and set out to learn her secrets. Nobody does a better job than the affable Barry at delivering his droll one-liners and self-deprecating witticisms, which serve as foil to some truly worthwhile advice, such as: put your phone away, pay attention to the ones you love. The abundant hilarity of Barry’s storytelling adds poignancy to the book’s more moving and reflective moments, sincerely relayed by the author.
One practice for which all dogs agree on the value has recently caught the attention of humans (under a fresh name). In “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” Dr. Qing Li persuasively lays out the case for returning to nature, aided by the expressive and authoritative narration of British actor Ramon Tikaram. The chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, Dr. Li provides a wealth of scientific and historical data regarding the mental and physical benefits of time spent in the woods, alternated with practical tips on how to truly immerse oneself in the primeval setting that is our species’ true home. Among the many interesting facts related in Tikaram’s soothing, lush baritone is Seattle’s place among the most tree-rich cities in the world, so what are you waiting for: get out there and bathe!