7 inspirational books to gift to loved ones this Christmas

Category: News

If you are looking for last-minute Christmas gift ideas, why not check out our list of seven books sure to inspire.

From true stories of bravery and heroism to fictional memoirs and parables, you’re sure to find something for the loved ones in your life.

1. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father was originally released in 1995, nearly 15 years before its author became US president.

The book has since been followed by The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2006) and more recently, in 2020, by A Promised Land. The latter is the first of two volumes of post-presidential memoirs Obama has planned.

Dreams from My Father begins in New York, as Obama learns of his father’s death. What follows is a journey into the author’s past, from Kansas to Hawaii and finally to Kenya.

Honest, captivating, and illuminating, the story is one of identity and belonging, told by a young man asking big questions about what makes us who we are.

2. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Daré’s debut novel, The Girl with the Louding Voice is told from the perspective of fourteen-year-old, Adunni.

Growing up in Nigeria, Adunni’s mother informs her that a solid education is the only way for Adunni to find her “louding voice”. Adunni’s father has other plans. Sold to a local taxi driver to help her parents pay the rent, Adunni becomes the man’s third wife until she promptly runs away.

Discovering her “louding voice” will become not only a means of being heard, but also a way to speak on behalf of those girls who came before, and the ones that will follow.

3. The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Cherry-Garrard was close to being selected as part of Captain Scott’s ill-fated team that made its famous push to the South Pole. Instead, he would be among the would-be rescuers who later retrieved the bodies of their fallen companions.

This meticulous memoir details the everyday dramas of exploration; an inspirational tale of friendship and bravery in the face of extreme hardship.

The “Worst Journey in the World” for Cherry-Gerrard occurred just a year after the Terra Nova arrived in the Antarctic and a year before the death of the expedition’s leader. The author set off with Henry Bowers and Bill Wilson – the two men that would later perish with Scott – to collect the eggs of emperor penguins in the name of scientific research.

Documenting the whole of the expedition from Cardiff to New Zealand and eventually to the South Pole and back again, this incredible story of endurance is an epic, unputdownable eye-witness account of a fascinating piece of British history.

4. The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

The Long Walk is a harrowing true story of Slavomir Rawicz’s 4000-mile escape from a Siberian prison camp.

Arrested by the communist secret police in occupied Poland during the winter of 1939, Rawicz is sentenced to 25 years in a Russian gulag. Inhumane, often barbarous treatment at the hands of their captors meant certain death long before a sentence could be completed.

In 1941, six men – Rawicz’s among them – escaped. Crossing the trans-Siberian railway, into Tibet and the Himalayas, and across the Gobi Desert, their trek to freedom is an awe-inspiring testament to what the body can endure and to the will to survive against incredible odds.

5. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Raynor Winn’s husband Moth is diagnosed with terminal cancer and just a few days later the couple loses their livelihood and their home.

In this life-affirming story of grief, home, and the power of nature, the pair decide to take only what they can carry and embark on a 630-mile journey along England’s South-West Coast Path.

With little food or money, each step along the jagged coast in battering wind and rain is a huge test and a challenge to be overcome.

The Sunday Times called The Salt Path “a tale of triumph, of hope over despair; of love over everything”.

6. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

Wild Swans is a story of three generations of Chinese women and has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide. Partly biography and partly a history of 20th-century China, the story follows the author, her mother, and her grandmother from 1924 right up to the 1980s.

In 1920s China, Chang’s grandmother becomes the concubine of a local warlord general, at the age of just 15. Later, the author’s mother – also at the age of 15 – begins to work for the Communist Party of China. Jung Chang herself is a teenager at the time of the Cultural Revolution.

Through the lives of these three women during distinct periods of China’s history, the book transcends biography, autobiography, and history. What follows is an almost-unbelievable true story that is heart-rending, thoughtful, tragic, and ultimately uplifting.

7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Brazil’s Paulo Coelho has sold more than 60 million copies of his 1998 parable The Alchemist.

Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd who decides that there is more to life and that now is the time to follow his dreams. Through spirituality, magical realism, and folklore, Coelho weaves a tale of a young man following his own path on a life-changing journey that has also has the power to change the lives of those who read it.

It has been a bestseller in 74 countries worldwide and continues to be read and enjoyed today, more than two decades after its release.