Forgiving and forgetting aren’t always possible or easy. When it comes to gaining a new perspective or tools to help you overcome internal or external barriers, books can be an amazing tool. If you want to stop living in the past and take greater control of your future, we’ve provided a list of 15 titles to help you do so.
The majority of the titles below are available for purchase online through your local independent bookstores, used bookstores, or platforms like Amazon. You may also consider swapping these titles among your loved ones so you can all share in a collective transformation. As you explore the titles below, remember that even though your circumstances may be scary or uncertain, you can always start within.
1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
If you find that you’re stuck in one spot — or continually find yourself stuck in the same situations — curing your woes may come down to your habits.
Maybe you constantly get hung up on the same issues or find yourself unable to push past the errs of others. James Clear is a celebrated author and known for his advice on decision-making, forming good habits, as well as how to continuously improve yourself.
2. Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor
Shaka Senghor, formerly James White, brings readers inside his transformative 19 years in prison. With raw honesty and heart, Senghor describes what it was like to win and lose growing up on the streets of Detroit and grappling with his term in prison.
Senghor’s anecdotes are both vivid and eye-opening, and share insight about the highest levels of both forgiving and being forgiven. Writing My Wrongs is a New York Times Bestseller and a Member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100.
If you're dealing with the forgiveness of someone who has died, this book might help you put that into perspective.
3. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
In this title, Rachel Hollis helps readers, particularly women, explore the fact that we often feel as though everyone else but us has everything figured out.
Written as a set of 20 lies and misconceptions we often have about ourselves as women, you’ll likely relate to all of them in some way. This is an encouraging, entertaining read that will give you practical strategies and move on from what isn’t serving you.
4. Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff
Everybody, Always reveals how scary and seemingly impossible — but possible — it can be to love everyone we encounter without reservation. And, thus, the amazing opportunities we’re exposed to when we do.
This collection of true stories highlight Bob Goff’s own experiences that often tested yet affirmed his faith and belief in loving deeply. Goff also has a few other works about the transformative power of love and how it relates to personal growth.
5. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Maybe the secret to you moving on and forgiving is saying “yes” more. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes did just that — even when she thought she couldn’t, and even when it scared her.
6. G’morning, G’night!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
In this illustrated work, celebrated creator Lin-Manuel Miranda offers his famous positivity in a new way. You can enjoy bite-sized bits of wisdom and more in this uplifting read.
7. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom
In a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale about life and loss, Mitch Albom takes readers on a journey of emotional growth. If you’re dealing with a loss, you may also be interested in these other books about death.
8. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
This book offers 27 chapters of stories and life-bettering wisdom to help just about anyone feel empowered to change their life for the better (plus the occasional swear word).
Jen Sicero also has a few other titles about other specialized topics, like finances.
9. Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings by Thibaut Meurisse
When it comes to moving on and forgiving, perhaps the err of your ways lies in how you react to things.
Do you take enough time to process what happens to you? What is said to you? This work helps you evaluate your feelings and thus take greater control of your personal growth.
10. At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell
If you’re looking to escape your perspective for a while and explore the perspectives of others — particularly philosophers, playwrights, convicts, and revolutionaries — At the Existentialist Café may do the trick. In fact, it’s on our list of the best life-changing books.
11. The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu
Who better to give advice on forgiveness than Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu?
This book, and the fourfold path described, strives to help us all realize we are capable of transformation and healing.
12. The Power of Self Talk: Empower Positive Thinking, Create a Positive Aura and Redesign Your Personal, Professional and Spiritual Life by Bhavya Mangla
This work examines the astonishing number of thoughts we have in a given day — namely, how many of these thoughts are both involuntary and negative.
By shifting our thinking and training our brains, it can have extremely powerful positive effects on a variety of different aspects of our lives.
13. The Power of Letting Go: How to Drop Everything That’s Holding You Back by John Purkiss
In this New York Times Bestseller, you can explore a number of principles that are relevant to anyone examining themselves or their development.
John Purkiss describes four key stages to letting things go that you can apply to your own life and circumstances.
14. Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D
If you feel that you have inner obstacles blocking happiness, love, success — or whatever you seek — Letting Go may be for. David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., shares practical techniques for removing barriers in your life you may be putting there yourself.
15. Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior by Mark Goulston, M.D. and Philip Goldberg
We are often in our own way, more than we’d like to admit. This book explores specific self-defeating behaviors — such as envy, obsession, anger, self-pity, forgiveness, and more — and how to overcome them.
Books Can Help You Start Within
Though better circumstances can likely help you move on and forgive, the fact is that transformation often begins within. Books, like those we listed above, can offer important perspectives and help you overcome barriers you’ve set for yourself, either intentionally or unintentionally.
As you’ll learn from the experiences of these authors, as well as their characters, desired change has to start with you. It’s true — we cannot always control our circumstances — but we can control how we handle these circumstances. You may also be interested in starting an end-of-life plan or these other life-changing books.