8 Spirit-Lifting Books to Read this Spring

Wonder at nature or examine your soul — consider these reads for the season of change from staffers at Quail Ridge Books.
by  Sarah Goddin, Mamie potter, and Abbe Townsend  

Alongside spring’s blooms often comes a desire to gain a new perspective, to emerge from the cocoon of winter. This collection of books from North Carolina and national authors offers that chance, with inspiring ideas about spirituality, self-acceptance, friendship, and even seeing nature in a new light.

Survival of the Friendliest by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

Husband-and-wife writing team and Duke research scientists Hare and Woods show how humans evolved and flourished as a result of cooperation and inclusiveness — but also why these same traits can lead to cruelty, and what we can do about it. 

Wild North Carolina by David Blevins and Michael P. Schafale

Filled with stunning photographs of North Carolina’s natural wonders, this lovely book will inspire readers to seek out some of these special places to renew their spirits after a long, hard winter. The authors include the ecological history and significance of each place for a fuller understanding and appreciation.

Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt

Inspired by his young daughter’s eagerness to learn everything, Vanderbilt embarks on a year of devoting himself to tackling new skills including chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. Along the way, he shows us the rewards of immersing oneself in new abilities and knowledge, no matter how inept.

Love is the way by Bishop Michael Curry

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry was bishop here in North Carolina
before becoming presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Bishop William
J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, says it best: “Bishop Curry proclaims and lives the way of love that has the power to transform broken systems and imperfect people. This book is a gift for our time… Listen to him.”

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, with illustrations by Fumi Nakamura

An award-winning poet combines memoir and nature study in this exquisitely illustrated book, which has been named one of the best of the year by numerous publications. As Ross Gay wrote, “Sometimes we need teachers to remind us how to be flabbergasted and gobsmacked and flummoxed and enswooned by the wonders of this earth.”

Shame by Joseph Burgo

Chapel Hill psychotherapist Burgo shows us how to take our shame, give it a big embrace, and use it to move forward to a joyful life. The book includes personal stories and exercises, which make the journey to wholeness accessible to all.

Tiny Beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed

The letters in this collection were part of an advice column called “Dear Sugar” that Strayed wrote for The Rumpus. People to whom we’ve recommended this book have said it changed their lives. Insightful, funny, poignant — Strayed touches all our emotions with her hard-hitting, beautifully written advice. 

How Lovely the Ruins edited by Annie Chagnot and Emi Ikkanda

Poets past and present offer words of encouragement to get us through challenging times. Published in 2017, the book has only gained in relevance over the past year. If you can only read a little at a time right now, this is the one book you should have by your bedside.