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Gift Ideas that Inspire

A few years ago, when I first started this site, I used to do posts on gift ideas around Christmas time (like this one and this one). I haven’t done another post like that, mainly because the gifts I like to give are quite boring (to the outside) and are usually non-fiction, inspirational type books.

Maybe it’s a personal preference, but I feel that “things” don’t last, but books do. A good book will move us, it will motivate us to take different action, and it will inspire us to see the world differently. In essence, a good book will change us.

If you’re been reading this Blog for awhile, you’ve probably already head of me recommending “The Power of Now“, which I believe it’s a must read for everyone (the audio book doesn’t count). That book changed my life and was the basis upon which this site got started, but that was over four years ago.

Since then, there are other books I’ve fallen in love with and do highly recommend. I thought to share some of them with you, just in case you were curious and/or was looking for gift ideas.

So this year, instead of trying to come up with a list of clever gift ideas, I thought to do a post of my favorite things (and favorite gift ideas I personally like to give).

I hope these recommendations (mostly books) fill your hearts with inspiration and wisdom, as they have done for me.

Are you ready? Here we go:

Gift Ideas: Books that Changed My Life

1. PhilosophersNotes

I don’t know where to begin in expressing how much I love the PhilosophersNotes. This is one of my favorite things in the world. Next to reading “The Power of Now” I would recommend that everyone get this.

What is it exactly? Brian Johnson created a series of book summaries of the 100 (now 200) of the best personal growth books—like Cliffs Notes or Coles Notes (if you are Canadian) except for books on personal transformation. In addition to written notes, he also recorded the summaries of inspiring ideas on audio.

For each volume, you get 100 notes from 100 books. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand its genius. Each summary captures the most inspiring and practical ideas from that book. The audio for each note is 20 minutes long. (Click here to get the notes or continue reading for how to order for cheap.)

This is the only thing I listen to when I drive. It gives me this boost of positive energy. It’s incredibly inspiring, uplifting and brilliant. I just love it.

For books I’ve read before, the notes are like a zap of positivity, reminding me ideas from those books which I can instantly apply to my present life situation (without needing to re-read the entire book).

For books I haven’t read before, it gives me inspiring and interesting ideas from a book without putting in the time to read the whole book (just 20 minutes). This is also a great resource for discovering books I may want to read.

To order, do the following:

  • Go to this page.
  • Under PN-Volume I (I’m recommending vol 1 and 2, not the physical hardcover book), right above the Add button, select price next to “Pick Your Price”. You can choose $20 to snag this at a discount. (I got the physical version of this product for $200 from a few years ago. So you’re getting a serious deal here.)
  • Click “Add” button.
  • (optionally) Repeat for volume II, or start with volume 1 and see if you like it. I recommend getting both.
  • Scroll down the page, and click on the large button “Checkout” (on the same page, near the bottom).
  • Continue the checkout process.

Enjoy!! If you are similar to me, you’ll love this. Trust me.

2. The Millionaire Fastlane

You may have heard of me raving about this book in the post “The Greatest Tragedy: Time vs Money” that MJ DeMarco wrote for our site.

This book is truly a gem, and I do recommend this to everyone. Everyone around me either bought a copy or received one as a gift from me. :)

Besides, there are 162 five-star ratings (at this time of writing) on amazon—others agree (including Brian Johnson from #1 above, who did a PN note on the book in volume 2 of PhilosophersNotes).

This is one book I will give to my son, when he’s old enough to learn about money and business. I love this book. I love the honesty, wisdom and transparency from which the author writes. This book will forever change my money blue print, and I am deeply thankful.

To read my review of the book, see the section “Editor’s Note” near the end of the article on The Greatest Tragedy. You can order a copy of the book on amazon here.

3. Brain Rules

I am not a very (naturally) active person. In fact, the last time I exercised was about a year before I had a baby (who is now 2 years old). I mean, yeah, I know I “should” be exercising, but I’ve never been inspired enough to actually make the time to do it…

… until I started reading this phenomenal and very entertaining book “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School”.

Now, this book isn’t about exercise. It is about understanding our brains such that we can optimize its ability to think, to remember, and to be productive. It’s a very practical and informative read. On top of that, the author has a unique voice that will capture your attention and keep you engaged.

In my mind, a sign of a good book is one that changes my behavior and outlook on life. And this is definitely one of those.

4. Super Rich

Russell Simmons, the hiphop mogul, has written a new book called “Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All”. Let me just preface by saying that “It’s not what you think.”

I recently saw Russell Simmon speak in person, and he completely surprised and moved me. On par to “The Power of Now”, this book is very practical and enlightening. Even if you have zero interest in hiphop culture, I still highly recommend this book.

Behind his fame, Russell is really a Yogi, who brings ancient wisdom into practical, modern speak. This book contains a beautiful blend between spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom.

As I started reading this, I couldn’t stop high-lightening the pages. There are so many great quotes in here that I was like a madman with my pen. My copy of the book is filled with pen marks and scribbles.

If you enjoyed reading about my spiritual journey to India (2009) in the post “Living Enlightenment”, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book.

Here’s a quote from Simmons, which always put a smile on my face, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.” :)

5. Personal MBA

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman distills the most valuable and universal principles of business into simple and practical concepts that we can use—not only in business but also to solve personal challenges.

It was recommended to me by, my dear friend, Derek Sivers. After the 3rd time of him raving about how great this book was, I instantly downloaded it on to my Kindle.

Josh is a very concise writer, who gets to the point quickly in a crisp and no BS fashion. I liked that. I found parts of the book to be a little dry, so I found myself going back-and-forth between reading this and another book to balance out the logical, concise business talk.

However, the value you do get from the book far outweighs the few dry parts (Depending on who you are, you may not find it to be dry). I’ve learned a lot from the book and enjoyed the process.

Once I got through the first half of the book, which consists mainly of business concepts told in a very easy to understand, short, and digestible chunks, the second half completely surprised me. In the second half, he talks about soft skills and personal development—written in his concise style that is extremely clear and easy to follow.

The sign of a master is one who can explain complex concepts in a simple to understand way, such that a child could understand. And Josh definitely has a gift for making things simple to understand, and explaining them in short, bite-sized writing.

Ever thought about going to business school? Here’s a way to dive in for under twenty bucks. Have an interest in business or just like to learn new stuff? This is a great choice.

6. Brain Rules for Baby

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five is written by the same brilliant brain scientist as the book from #3 above.

Oh man, I really wished that I had read this while I was pregnant with Ryan. If you are pregnant, or have a baby, or a child under the age of five, or know of someone who is pregnant or have a child under the age of five, :) please get this book. Seriously.

I get a little teary just writing this. It’s really good. You’ll learn something new. And you’ll be inspired to be better parents for our most precious little people.

This makes for a great baby gift and an insightful read.

6. Do the Work & The War of Art

It’s no secret that I love Steven Pressfield’s two books on overcoming creative fears and how to be productive with your creative endeavors.

You can read my review of these books on this post “Fear & How to Beat It”.

If you are working towards any type of creative or entrepreneurial or personal improvement projects, I highly recommend both these books: Do the Work and The War of Art. Both are very inspiring and phenomenal reads.

~ ~ ~

There you go! These are the top books and resources I highly recommend. If you like the content this site has published over the years, I think you’ll dig these books.

Before we do a summary of resources, here is a quick list of non-book items that I love:

  • OmmWriter – Oh Bliss! This is the software I use to write and (truthfully) to relax in. It blocks out of all on-screen distractions and presents you with a zen-like virtual environment (along with music) to soak in peace, and just let your words flow. Try it as a journal or to capture ideas. Download free versions for Mac and PCs. The iPad version is paid (but cheap). If you love the free version, please also get the paid version (to support the geniuses that created it). It’s a beautiful software that instantly puts me into Bliss land. Make sure to use headphones to catch the music — designed to draw you into serenity.
  • Kindle – I love my Kindle so much, that it I could, I’d marry it. *smiles* Seriously, if you like to read, you’ll love the Kindle. If you plan to read for extended period of time, I highly recommend that you get a version with E Ink, and not the color version (Kindle Fire). During a visit over the summer, after my step-dad saw how much I loved my Kindle setup, he got the exact same setup. He is now a very happy man. My setup is: Kindle with Keyboard + Leather Cover with Built-in Light. Worth every penny.
  • Moo Cards – Someday I’ll tell you the full story (maybe on simplytina) of how Moo (the company that makes high quality, good looking business cards at great prices) became my hero. When my designer messed up and I was in a desperate spot, their customer service took care of me—like re-designing the card, reprinting an order, sent it to me overnight (all on their dime) so that I had cards for an important event. They probably lost $50 or more from my order, but gained a life long raving fan. For example, I don’t need stickers, but am finding myself ordering them anyway, just because Moo makes them. :) If you need business cards and want to get the most for your money (not to mention a company who truly cares about their customers), use Moo.


Just for your references, here’s a summary of all the books and resources we’ve talked about in this post:

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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7 thoughts on Gift Ideas that Inspire

  1. Thanks for the great inspirational gift ideas! Looks like very interesting reads.

  2. Thank you for sharing this list of books. I think books are a great gift idea for presents anytime and find them to be just like you say life changing. Fantastic way to blog for people, give them resources that can potentially help them change their life. Awesome, will be recommending this site to others, now. Warmest Regards Shirley

  3. Love the idea of having a “Cliff’ notes” version of inspirational material.

    And, oh, darn, DS just turned 5. ;)

  4. I would put Steven Pressfield’s books at the top of this list. They are amazing and have real world ideas and tools for getting important things done.

  5. PatricK

    Hm, i actually found the audiobook a lot more powerful as it was read by Tolle himself. I wonder why Tina i guess thought that the paper version is a lot better.

  6. Mitali Grover

    Hey nice article….n thank you as i was also searching for the same book and now i m definitely going to read that book.

  7. Mitali Grover

    Hey nice article….and thank you as i was also searching for the same book “The Power Of Now” and now i am definitely going to read that book.

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