TL; DR—5 Inspiring Book Excerpts That Will Change How You View the World

The ETR Book Club

Whatever your profession or passions, a healthy perspective on the world is what keeps you growing.

This season, then, dig into these ETR-recommended titles for a new lens on life. If you don’t have time to read the whole book, consider the excerpts offered below. They’ll prompt healthy introspection.

“Still Me” by Jojo Moyes

“If someone likes you, they will stay with you; if they don’t like you enough to stay with you, they aren’t worth being with anyway. You know that.”

Acclaimed author Jojo Moyes is back in exemplary form with the third book in the “Me Before You” series. A story bursting with questions of personal authenticity, social influence, and rich vs. less-than-rich, “Still Me” tackles very timely socioeconomic issues in Western society. No doubt, you’ll find a lot to relate to in at least one of the characters. The question is: Which one?

“The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer

“For years it had been enough to be the intelligent one. All that had meant, in the beginning, was that you could answer the kinds of questions that your teachers asked. The whole world appeared to be fact‑based, and that had been a relief to Greer, who could dredge up facts with great ease, a magician pulling coins from any available ear. Facts appeared before her, and then she simply articulated them, and in this way she became known as the smartest one in her class.

Later on, when it wasn’t just facts that were required, it got so much harder for her. To have to put yourself out there—your opinions, your essence, the particular substance that churned inside you and made you who you were—both exhausted and frightened Greer…”

Another nod to authenticity, Wolitzer’s acclaimed novel digs into the complicated world of adulthood, social responsibility, and feminism. We all have faced the challenges of making decisions based on solid facts—including in business—but how much harder is it to navigate the complexities of adulthood and relationships when nothing is set in stone? This book addresses the very real issue of risk-taking, right vs. wrong, and moral certitude turned upside-down by peer pressure. A brilliant, if personally challenging, read.

“Education” by Tara Westover

“Dad worries that the Government will force us to go but it can’t, because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom. When I am nine, I will be issued a Delayed Certificate of Birth, but at this moment, according to the state of Idaho and the federal government, I do not exist.”

Tara Westover opens the door to a very troubling childhood in her touching memoir. And while it is distinctly personal, it also shares a much-needed perspective on the importance of and access to education in 2018. Westover’s journey, including her self-actualized education, is a testament to the power of drive and ambition—while also a stark reminder that not everyone enjoys the freedom of education. What are we doing to change that?

“Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker

“Optimism is the theory that all failures—all evils—are due to insufficient knowledge. Problems are inevitable, because our knowledge will always be infinitely far from complete. Some problems are hard, but it is a mistake to confuse hard problems with problems unlikely to be solved. Problems are soluble, and each particular evil is a problem that can be solved. An optimistic civilization is open and not afraid to innovate, and is based on traditions of criticism. Its institutions keep improving, and the most important knowledge that they embody is knowledge of how to detect and eliminate errors.”

Too often, our present society buries its collective head in the sand when difficulty mounts. But Pinker takes us to task, reminding us that the solutions to our “soluble problems” are right in front of us, granted by the roots of the millennia-old Enlightenment movement. Instead of ignoring our problems, then, or shying away from criticisms that might offend, we should restructure our approach to civic struggle in a way that ensures improvement—not stagnation.

“Age-Proof” by Jean Chatzky and Michael F. Roizen

“When it comes to perhaps the two biggest issues in your life—your health and your financial status—you’re scared to look in the mirror. Maybe the truth hurts so much that you can’t stand to see—and address—this kind of reflection. Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll pale in comparison to the others in your world.

But avoiding the metaphorical mirror means that you’ll never notice when you have lipstick smudged across your face.

The reality is that before we start any meaningful discussion of health and wealth (and changing both for the better) there’s one thing you have to do: embrace your current reality. That means embrace the data. Embrace the diagnostics. Embrace the fact that you need to measure exactly where you are so you can determine where you want to be—and charter a course for how to get there.”

By combining two often unwed topics—health and finance—Jean Chatzky and Roizen give us new perspective on the plaguing problems of both our bodies and our wallets. The real brilliance of this book is the way in which one sheds light on the other. Common health know-how, long accepted, can give us a better sense of our financial habits, and vice-versa. The aim, of course, is to improve both by playing off each other. A remarkable insight in an age when neglect of our personal and financial care is often staggering.


Do you have a favorite book you’d like to share—something that will change how we think about growth, self-improvement, or well-being? Let us know in the comments below!

Jeff Steen

Jeff Steen is the Associate Editor of Early to Rise. Previously, he worked in food and hospitality journalism, but is currently focused on bringing unique, insightful content to the ETR world.