Inspirational Books for the New Year

Inspirational Books

I have said it before, I love a good book. Only rarely will you find me reading fiction these days. I prefer real life, constructive and inspiring reading matter these days. The following is a list of inspirational books to help you save money, live better and motivate you in 2019. They are under broad headings but some of those that encourage you to live more frugally also happen to be more eco-friendly, and vice versa. I have a heading for motivational books, but many of those under other headings will also motivate you to move in your chosen direction. I hope you like my list. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Inspirational books to help you save money

Total Money Makeover:  A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Anything by Dave Ramsey will help you to take control of your finances, as well as to grow your money. I was extremely impressed with his The Total Money Makeover, which I reviewed here. Thousands of people have found financial peace by following his baby steps to get out of debt and create wealth.

How I lived a year on just a pound a day by Kath Kelly

This is an entertaining and inspiring read. How I lived a year on a just pound a day follows Kath Kelly’s journey as she finds creative ways to have fun and live a good life on the toughest of budgets. She cycled everywhere, ate reduced price food and even managed a couple of holidays. Whether she could still do it today I don’t know. I wish she would do a follow up! My full review is here.

The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle

Another book that shows just how little you can live on if you are determined is Moneyless Man, The: A Year Of Freeconomic Living. I was intrigued to find out how he would live on no money at all for a year. In this thought provoking book, Mark Boyle shows how you can not only live on less money, but actually thrive. His book draws attention to the damage our thoughtless consumerism does to the world and our fellow citizens and offers a radical new way to live. My review is here. If you want to find out more about the movement showing people that money is not true wealth you can watch this short You Tube film. This book could easily have been in the Motivation or Live Greener sections as it encompasses all of these topics.

His book The Moneyless Manifesto: Live Well. Live Rich. Live Free is on my list to read next!

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

This is the book that started my journey to frugality and helped to take control of my money. The Complete Tightwad Gazette makes money saving seem like an enjoyable hobby rather than a hard, painful slog. The Tightwad Gazette started life as a money saving newsletter, full of great frugal commonsense and thrifty ideas. Even though it is now quite old, it is a classic and a must for anyone wanting to live a good life on less dollar. My review is here.

Budget cookery books

A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe

Every frugal cook should have a copy of A Girl Called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes. Lots of super cheap recipes in this one. I prefer it by far to any of the others from Jack. My full review is here.

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

inspirational books

I have never been a massive fan of Jamie Oliver. All that ‘bish bash bosh’ stuff put me off. However, I now have a couple of his cookbooks and they are great. Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less isn’t mega frugal, but very good for the budget cook because it makes sure you use all your leftovers. Pukka! I reviewed it here.

Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown

I have mentioned this book a lot recently as I have been revisiting some old vegetarian favourites. It is out of print now, sadly, but you can still pick up a second hand copy on Amazon . If you are a vegetarian or have one in the family, it is well worth buying. I still love the cashew nut and mushroom roast and the red dragon pie, especially.

Vegetarian food is nearly always cheaper than meat and healthier too.

The Complete Vegetarian by Rose Elliott

Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian brings together recipes from many of her books. What I like about any of Rose Elliot’s books is that she always gives you plenty of information on how to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and the recipes are easy to make. I have pulled this one out as it has a lot of good recipes, but actually any Rose Elliot book is worth a look. Many of them are out of print now so grab a copy if you happen to see one second hand. Some are available on Amazon, but are expensive now. The New Vegetarian Cookbook is another good one, but I couldn’t see it on Amazon at all, and I used to love Not Just a Load of Old Lentils, which I think was probably the first vegetarian cook book I ever bought, in my teens.  Spinach roulade, anyone?

Frugal Food by Delia Smith

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I come back to this book time and again. I had a copy of the original 1970s paperback, which disintegrated with over use. My mum came to the rescue and bought me the re-published hardback version from the late ’90s. You can do an awful lot of nice dishes with the humble sausage, there is a vegetarian section and lots of good, cheap cake recipes. You can read a fuller review here, but on the whole I would say this is worth buying if you want reliable budget recipes.

The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

This is a really unusual and original vegetarian cookbook. In fact, I have only just rediscovered it and it has been sitting on the shelf for years. It contains recipes for the more adventurous cook, I would say. Again, because they are vegetarian, they tend to be cheaper to make than meaty food. Even if you just want to cut back on the amount of meat you eat rather than becoming a full on vegetarian, there is lots to explore in this book.

I love the sound of the peanut and sesame noodles and might give the sweet potato pie a go. There are lots of interesting sweet and savoury bakes too. I have always wanted to try calzone so this is on my list. The food in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is influenced by a wide range of ethnic cooking styles and incorporates lots of different nuts, grains, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices.

If you want a cookbook that doesn’t rely on expensive ingredients yet offers something a bit different, this could be the book to try.

Books to help you live greener

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I love this book: Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life, which I finished reading just before Christmas. Not that I believe we are anywhere near creating just a glass jar full of waste each year, as Bea Johnson and her family do, but it has certainly made me realise that we could reduce our waste A LOT with very little effort.

I found this a very inspirational read, full of ideas about how you can cut the waste you produce, whilst living a more simple and fulfilling life.  The key is to follow the 5 Rs: Refuse stuff you don’t need (don’t take the waste in the first place; easier said than done, but not impossible); Reduce what you do need and cannot refuse (spend your money on experiences rather than ‘stuff’); Reuse what you consume (this doesn’t mean recycling but rather finding a new purpose for items that you didn’t manage to refuse or reduce); Recycle (hopefully, you have refused, reduced and reused so much that there is much less left to recycle) and finally, Rot (compost everything that is left).

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I will do a full review of Zero Waste Home in the next month or so, but highly recommend it. If you want to find out more about Bea Johnson and the zero waste movement she created, just do a search on You Tube. She pops up doing talks all over the place.

Saving the Planet without Costing the Earth, by Donnachadh McCarthy

This practical book stops you feeling overwhelmed about how you can make a difference and live a greener lifestyle. It offers 500 ideas to live a more environmentally existence, from turning off your appliances at the plug rather than leaving them on standby, to insulating your home, buying more energy efficient appliances, reducing your waste and reusing where you can.

I love that it offers practical solutions.Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth: 500 Simple Steps to a Greener Lifestyle is quite an old book now, as it was  first published in 2004. However, it is totally relevant for today, as we become more acutely aware of the environmental damage our lifestyle is causing and strive to reduce our carbon footprint. This is one of the most inspirational books I have found and it has certainly had an impact on me as I have attempted to live a green lifestyle over the years.

Natural Household Cleaning, Making your own eco-savvy cleaning products, by Rachelle Strauss

This was one of my Christmas presents and I was very happy to receive it. Natural Household Cleaning shows you how you can replace the plethora of highly marketed, plastic packaged chemical cleaners with simpler, more natural and less environmentally damaging alternatives.

I have been using bicarbonate or soda, vinegar and soda crystals to clean here at Shoestring Cottage for a while now so much of this isn’t new to me. However, what is really interesting is the information on the chemicals in most commercial cleaning products and the harm they can do you individually (let alone mixed in a chemical cocktail with other products). For example, air fresheners don’t actually freshen the air. All they do is coat your nostrils and block the olfactory nerve with a stronger chemical fragrance. The warnings tell you to not to breathe in the spray and that inhaling the product may kill you. Just open the window or tackle the source of any bad smells!

In Natural Household Cleaning Rachel Strauss gives you simple ideas recipes and ideas to replace all chemical cleaners in your house for the sake of your health, the environment and your bank balance.

Books on Simple Living

Simplicity: Easy ways to simplify and enrich your life by Elaine St James

As more and more people find that having it all – the best clothes, the biggest car or house, the newest gadgets -means working more to earn more, many of us are looking for ways to get off the treadmill. Working to compete with the Jones’s leaves less time for family, friends and more fulfilling activities, leading to a sense of being overwhelmed and stressed out.

In Simplicity: Easy Ways to Simplify and Enrich Your Life, Elaine St James suggests a different way to live, trading in your high pressure lifestyle for one that is less about money and more about valuing the simpler things in life. A great read if you need inspiration to change, but don’t know where to start.

In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore

Another oldie but goody, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed challenges the faster is better, hectic lifestyles that many of us find ourselves trapped in. When Carl Honore found himself speed reading a bedtime story to his child, he knew he had to change and find a better balance. In this book, he explores the idea of slow living, from slow food to slow sex to show how embracing the slow living movement can help you live a more productive and fulfilling life.  A great book for when you are feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself time to read this!

The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour

inspirational books

This classic inspired the TV series the Good Life and caused lots of people to attempt to go back to the earth. You may not be ready to go and live on a smallholding in the back of beyond and live a self sufficient life, to give up the supermarket and grow all of your own food, kill and eat your livestock and make everything from scratch.  However, The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers may well inspire you to keep a few chickens in the garden, make some home brew or jam and bake a few loaves every now and again. It will encourage you to waste less, respect the land and be a little more self sufficient.

John Seymour says in his introduction: ” Self-sufficiency does not mean ‘going back’ to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food which is fresh and organically grown…for the health of body and peace of mind which come with hard varied work in the open air…’

Whether you just want to dream or to actually live the good life on the land, this book is a must read.

I hope you enjoyed my (by no means comprehensive) list of inspirational books for 2019 and that they will give you food for thought.

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9 thoughts on “Inspirational Books for the New Year

  1. Wow, Jane, what a lot of work to produce such a comprehensive review – thank you! My husband found John Seymour’s self-sufficiency book in the 1970s and has aspired to grow as organically as possible ever since. Hope it’s not too late to wish you a happy and much healthier 2019! Vicki

  2. What a great list!

    I absolutely loved reading the Kath Kelly – How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day!

    Totally mad and totally a “free-spirit, escape from it all” fantasy read! I so wish I could do something like that! Maybe if I was free and single…!

  3. Wishing you and your family a great 2019, Jane. I discovered Delia last year, and decided that I really loved her food. I just love British food, even though I live in New Zealand.

  4. I found your list really useful, thank you! I have requested some through the Essex Libraries website, free and eco friendly 🙂

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