Books to Help You Cultivate What Matters

Books to Help You Cultivate What Matters

by: Emily Thomas

Around here, we love books, yes—but we particularly love books that help us cultivate what matters: books that help us create a life of meaning and purpose, steward what we've been given well, and live in a way that's pointed toward legacy. Books like that, while unique to each person and what matters most to her, are rare gemsand worthy of being shared!  

So today, we're sharing five such books from three gals on our team. Read on for personal picks you'll want to add to the TBR list in your Cultivated Reading Journal!

For more, don't miss episode 50 of the Cultivate What Matters podcast!

stack of books and reading journal on a windowsill

From Kristin, CEO of Cultivate What Matters:

Gentle and Lowly | This book gives insight into how Jesus relates to us as sinners and sufferers. In our culture and even in our churches, it's easy to get a twisted view of this, but I love how the author explains who Jesus is, how his heart is oriented, and how he relates to us. I highlighted every other line and plan to read this book every year.

The Book of Common Prayer | This is a book of prayers first published in 1549, with beautiful writing that almost borders on poetry. As humans, we often struggle to express everything we're thinking and feeling in prayer, and so there's something really powerful about borrowed prayers—they teach us how to pray as they give insight into the human experience.

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day | I've read many books about time management and productivity, but this one—which focuses a lot on building systems—stands out because it's so practical and yet focused on living and working intentionally. If you feel like each day passes with no time to do the things that matter to you, this book is for you. 

The Ideal Team Player | This is a business book written as a fable, and it's helped me grow as both a boss and a team member. Even if you don't currently manage people, I'd still recommend it—I think it would help in any situation where you need to work with other people! It focuses on the importance of finding and cultivating team members who are humble, hungry, and smart.

What Got You Here Won't Get You There | Another business book great for someone in leadership or who's passionate about her career! It's easy to slip into bad habits, or even just shift into autopilot, once we reach a certain point. For me, reading this book was like working with an executive or career coach, helping me to be more self-aware as a leader and asking for feedback to be better at what I do. 

Runners-up: The Valley of Vision and Deeper

reading journal

From Kelley, Content Marketer:

The Hiding Place | This is a true story about the woman who was the head of the underground in Holland during WWII and was captured and imprisoned by the Germans. She was so wise and had unshakeable faith, but was also a real human who struggled with rage and despair. I find her story hugely inspiring even in my very different circumstances.

I'm Proud of You | This book is about the unconventional friendship between the author and Mr. Rogers (yes, that Mr. Rogers!). It made me think about legacy, something we talk about often at Cultivate, and reminded me of the power of words and how we talk to and about people. It encourages me to keep loving the difficult people in my life unconditionally, right where they are. 

What a Girl Wants | For me, resting, relaxing, and incorporating joy and fun into my life is a part of cultivating what matters. Reading is a huge part of that, and this book and others like it is perfect if you want to rest and relax your brain! We don't always associate fiction with goal-setting, but I love learning from the author's characters, too—I can really see myself in the women she creates.

A Thousand Splendid Suns | This book is heartbreaking, and it also taught me so much about gratitude. It helped me look at my life with fresh eyes and see the gifts all around me even in a really hard period, something I'll never forget. It also gave me conviction about not being silent about things that matter.

With You All the Way | I know this is a children's book, but it was so profound for me! It's an allegory with a beautiful, sweet ending, and I'm choosing it for this list because it talks about cultivating wisdom through friendship, the importance of surrounding yourself with worthy people, and how relying on your own strength can be detrimental—all things I need help remembering.

From Emily, Content Lead:

Ella Enchanted | This is a children's book, but I had to include it, because it's one of the books I remember most clearly dearly loving when I was younger. It's books like this one that cemented my lifelong love of reading, and without that love, I never would have been exposed to the other books that have taught me so much about cultivating a meaningful life I love.

The Lifegiving Home | As a parent of three young children, so much of cultivating what matters for me in this season is focused on my family. I've learned so much from Sally Clarkson, a seasoned mom of four, about the importance of home and how we can intentionally shape a place to shape the people we love.

Being Mortal | Though this book is concerned with end-of-life care, both for the elderly and those with terminal illness, it's also about living welland helping the ones we love to do the same (and it's not as depressing as it sounds!). It is lovely and meaningful and profound, I think it should be required reading for everyone. It would be particularly powerful to read as a family of adult children and parents and discuss.

The Psychology of Money | This simple, conversational, and brilliant book about wealth, greed, and happiness is less about the nitty-gritty of finances and more about how what we believe about money and how we make decisions about money majorly impact our life. It's helped me make more meaningful (truly cultivated!) choices about money, and will be required reading for our children when they're older!

The Self-Driven Child | One more parenting book! If I had to choose a book that best summed up my parenting style (or, more accurately, the type of parent I aspire to be!), this would be it. It has given me the language, permission, and practical advice to help our children grow into confident, capable adults who are ready to cultivate what matters themselves :)

We'd love to hear: What books help you to cultivate what matters? Leave a comment below!

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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