Summer Hammock Reads: 7 Books to Transform Your Self

Let’s face it…summer would be incomplete without a good hammock hang and a fellow book in your lap. Summer, by its nature, is filled with the energy of the sun and the light of transformation. With that sentiment in mind, here is a list of 7 books that will bend your perspective, provoke inquiry, cultivate an open mind, inspire truth and encourage transformation.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

A classic allegorical novel for those in pursuit of their purpose. Brazilian author Paulo Coehlo paints the journey of following intuition and pursing one’s personal legend. We trail a Shepard from Andalucía, Spain to Egypt, from grasslands to desert, from love to loss and the awakening of truth. A beautiful short read that will leave you trusting in the universe, accepting of all experience, and inspired to follow your heart.

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” – Paulo Coehlo

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

If you’ve found yourself at the crossroads of what you think you should do versus your heart calls you to do… this is the book for you. Brene Brown is a psychologist and expert on shame and authenticity. In this short non-fiction read, she paves the path of cultivating self-worth, courage and compassion. She reveals the power in vulnerability and the beauty that arises when you are honest and accepting of the truth within. She also has a TEDTalk if you want a preview of her thoughts.

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.” – Brene Brown

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

One of the most powerful books to come out of the Holocaust experience, psychologist Frankl writes about power in perspective, choice and purpose. This non-fiction read takes us through the psychological experiences of prisoners in concentration camps. In spite of having freedoms stripped from man and woman, Frankl reveals the power in choosing how to react to a given situation, and how this choice can be a gateway to freedom.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L Weiss. M.D. 

If you’ve been curious about karma or what happens after death, and for those that are skeptical of it all…this will blow your mind. This bestseller explores past-life experiences through a case study of hypnotherapy. Traditional psychologist Weiss began treating his patient in sessions that provoked her to recall past-life trauma that was manifesting in her present life nightmares. This exploration is articulated in a rational and logical light, with a profound wisdom that will leave even the skeptic re-evaluating his or her perspective.   

“Inner peace is impossible without patience. Wisdom requires patience. Spiritual growth implies the mastery of patience. Patience allows the unfolding of destiny to proceed at its won unhurried pace.” – Brian Weiss

Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

A classic children’s book that champions many lessons of Buddhist philosophy and one that is for the rebel in all of us. We follow the journey of Jonathon, a Seagull that chose to go against the grain of Gull society and follow his innermost calling to fly.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.” – Richard Bach

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Stretch this book out over time and allow yourself to meditate on Rilke’s wisdom. Try a letter a day. Documented in a collection of notes written to the young poet Kappus, Rilke pours insight into the process of understanding the human condition - a process guided by truth, living in the present and the journey of going within. Consider this book a mentor.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

A novel that is based off of the author’s life, Dan Millman tells the story of his spiritual awakening through the eyes of a young college athlete that was on the track to the Olympics. Like many of us, Dan struggled with identifying the meaning and purpose to his life. He meets an old gas station attendant named Socrates, who takes him on a wild journey of enlightenment. Sometimes we find wisdom in the most unlikely places, we only have to open ourselves up to it.

“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.” – Dan Millman

This list canvasses only a few of the many transformational reads out there. No doubt this could easily be much longer, but consider the above titles a jumping point into the stories we read and tell – these stories that teach us to follow that whispering intuition and guidance of our heart, and serve as the foundation of understanding our human experience.