Books are made for times of uncertainty and separation. They are our passports to other places and lives, so that even as we shelter-in-place, we are traveling far and wide. Across six feet, even across oceans, we can be listening to the same ideas and imagining the same universe. Whether we are finding solace in a well-told story of a life different from our own or finding inspiration to fully experience the life we are living, books connect us. At Idea Architects we work with some of the world’s most inspiring visionaries. Hopefully they’re work will serve as inspiring and entertaining reads for you, as well.

1. In these times of such uncertainty, there is a lot of focus on basic needs and just how to get through the day. For a wider perspective, it can be useful to think about the big questions. What am I doing with my life? How did I get here? And what does it matter if we’re just a rock floating through space? In Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers to The Big Questions at Hawking tackles the biggest questions of the universe.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking
Designing Your Life

2. With everything happening—especially for those who have become unemployed as a result of this pandemic, but for all of us faced with more time on our own—it’s easy to get either curious or anxious about the future. You might be in a place where you’ve no idea that to do next, or have too many ideas. You may just be feeling extra introspective. No matter the case, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ book Designing Your Life can teach you how to use design thinking to create a fulfilling and meaningful life. And their brand new book, Designing Your Work Life, can help you plan your next career move, and even help you design your working from home life in the weeks to come.

Designing Your Work Life

3. The Choice by Dr. Edith Eger reminds us that ultimately, we hold the key to the prison of our minds. Her harrowing journey through Auschwitz and the years of struggle afterward, remind us that we are capable of as much as we let ourselves be. Her journey to forgiveness—of others and most importantly herself—and healing can inspire you to gratitude in these trying times. You can also listen to Oprah talk with Dr. Eger’s on the Super Soul Conversations podcast.

The Choice
The Future We Choose

4. Amid the chaos and anxiety of the 24 hours news cycle, we find glimmers of hope in the way our planet has responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Reports come in of the environmental impact—from the swans returning to Venice to cleaner air and skies in our cities—that allow us to re-examine our species relationship with the planet. Tom Rivett-Carnac and Christiana Figueres—the key architects for the historic Paris Climate Agreement— can show all of us how to continue to improve the quality of life on Earth, for all species, in their groundbreaking book The Future We Choose. In it, they provide us with a clear roadmap of how the climate crisis got to where it is, and how we can help shape where it’s going.

5. The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Anthony Ray Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

The Sun Does Shine
The Book of Joy

6. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In The Book of Joy , they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in the days to come.

7. Now a feature film, Just Mercy follows one of the leading lawyers in the country, Bryan Stevenson, and his epic journey into the criminal justice system. Mixing commentary and reportage, Stevenson adroitly juxtaposes triumph and failure, neither of which is in short supply, against an unfolding backdrop of the saga of Walter McMillian, an innocent black Alabaman sentenced to death for the 1986 murder of an 18-year-old white woman. A must read that is both captivating and hopeful.

Just Mercy
Tiny Habits

8. We’ve all had to make so many adjustments these days. How do we create new habits that help us stay healthy and grounded during this time? And how do we let go of those habits that don’t? Tiny Habits —created by Dr. BJ Fogg, a world-renowned Behavior Scientist at Stanford University—is based on 20 years of research in behavior design. The content in this book is practical, immediately applicable and most importantly brand new.