Featured Books

At the Tangential Inspiration Podcast, we read a lot of books. We are always looking for books that inform and inspire us. When we find a book we really like, we will share it here. If there is a kid-friendly book on the subject, we will try to include it as well. The Amazon links are available. Full disclosure, on some sales we may receive a portion of the sale to help fund the podcast and keep us bringing you inspiring stories. On the other hand, we support you using your local library as well. Keep reading!

In Episode 16, we discussed Lady Gaga’s book Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community. As Teresa said, we believe that this should be required reading for every middle and high school student. 51 stories of kindness and helping other people.

In Episode 64, Teresa talks about the difficult journey of Julie Rodgers, a queer Christian who tried to please her mother by going to a gay conversion program, eventually becoming a “success story” for gay conversion, only to discover how much damage these programs did to young gay people. Her story and her efforts to end gay conversion are both heartwrenching and a joyous discovery of God’s love for everyone. This is a great book that everyone should read.

In Episode 11, Amy talked about how moved she was with all of the inspiring work that Melinda Gates was doing around the world. This is a great book and if you are looking for inspiration, you should read it.

In Episode 5, Amy shares about one of her favorite chefs, Marcus Samuelsson, and all of the amazing things he is doing to promote Black restaurants and business, as well as his cookbook The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of Food of American Food, A Cookbook. Amy and her husband have already tried out this cookbook and give it a big thumbs up, not just for the recipes, but for shining the light on ethnic inspired meals.

Amy and Teresa have always been big fans of author/lawyer Bob Goff. They got to learn more about Bob’s wife, Maria, when Amy read Maria Goff’s book Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want. Amy does a deep dive of Bob and Maria Goff in Episode 14, and finds that Maria Goff is just as inspiring as her more famous husband. This is a great read and a great source of inspiration.

In Episode 30, Amy covers Erin French, a chef from humble beginnings who worked her way through the world of food to establish her own unique kind of restaurant. She faced significant adversity but never stopped pursuing her dreams of making food that would draw people from around the world. Her dream came true and now people from all over the world enter her reservation drawing hoping to just get a spot at her supper club type restaurant. Erin French’s story is about food, determination, hardship and inspiration and is worth a read.

Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.


Kamala Harris is our first female Vice-President and in Episode 4, Teresa talks about her upbringing with a Black father and an Indian mother. There is just so much to understanding this remarkable woman, and a lot of that has to do with how her mom raises Kamala and her sister Maya. If you want to learn about what kind of woman Kamala Harris is and be inspired with all sorts of girl-power, give this book a read.

How can someone circumnavigate the world with no money and relying on the kindness of others for food, shelter and gas money? Find out. In Episode 18, Teresa talks about the Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World. This often humorous and definitely inspiring diary of a 5 ½ month trip around the world will give you hope as well as entertain you.

Everyone has heard of Rosa Parks, but do you know the story of Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old Black schoolgirl who paved the way for Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts? Teresa hit the highlights of Ms. Colvin and the amazing boycott she inspired in our first episode. She also discuss Phillip Hoose, the author of Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice in the same episode. Mr. Hoose’s book on Claudette Colvin is definitely worth a read.

Shahana Vij is a recent high school graduate who is making a difference with making sure that kids don’t go hungry. She has written a fabulous baking cookbook called Bake Away: Twenty Recipes Capturing the Spirit of Creativity, Experience, and Expression. Besides the fantastic recipes, the proceeds are funding school food programs with the hope that no kid goes hungry. Check it out.

You may have seen the movie Soul Surfer with Anna Sophia Robb, or you may have just listened to Episode 8 of our podcast. Either way, you would know what an incredible person Bethany Hamilton is. She is a rockstar athlete that did not let losing an arm to a shark prevent her from becoming a world class professional surfer. She has put out a book geared towards young women that offers advice, encouragement, and definitely a strong message of not just “girl-power,” but also focusing on being the best version of you that you can be.

Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.


In Episode 66, Amy talks about author Beverly Cleary who wrote such memorable characters such as Henry Huggins, Romano Quimby and Beezuz Quimby. The characters were the part of many a childhood and have created such fond memories. Hearing about Beverly Quimby’s life and how she came to create these characters is fascinating. Learn more about here with A Girl from Yamhill: a Memoir and My Own Two Feet: A Memoir.

Shaun T. is known mostly as a fitness guru, particularly in the Beach Body community. His hip-hop themed workouts are well known and best sellers. However, there is a lot more to this man that just workouts as Teresa discusses in Episode 6. Shaun T. had some horrific parts of his childhood and has overcome many challenges. He has a philosophy of having a big windshield and a tiny rearview mirror in life. Use the big windshield to see where you are going, and the little review mirror to know where you have been. This man’s life view is truly something special and something we could all use.

In Episode 19, Teresa discusses the amazing story of activist Wangari Maathai, and her battle to empower African women, feed her people, and work in cooperation with nature. As Teresa said in the podcast, she only scratched the surface of the story of this amazing lady. Read more about her and maybe you can find what part you can play, no matter how small, in saving our planet.

In Episode 20, Teresa tells the story of Jadev Payeng, the Forest Man of India, who planted his own forest over 30 years. The forest he planted has attracted tigers, rhinos, elephants, reptiles and birds. He loves his island forest so much he has become famous in India. There are even books about him for children.

Steve Irwin was a force of nature himself in the nature conservancy world. He lead an amazing life, and his impact is still being carried on by his wife Terri Irwin and his two children Bindi and Robert. This book covers much of Steve Irwin’s public life, but also a lot of his family life. He was not only a fierce Wildlife Warrior, he was also a husband and father who fiercely loved his family. Teresa covers Steve and his love for his family and nature in Episode 22, but if you want to dive deeper, this is the book to read.

The best way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Walt Disney

Amy talks about the amazing Rachel Carson in Episode 21, who found a way to merge literature and nature advocacy into some amazing books. Her writing is beautiful, descriptive, and poignant, bringing into focus the world of nature and the perils of unregulated chemicals being introduced into nature. These are important books that everyone should read. Here is the Sea Trilogy and her best-known book, Silent Spring.

In Episode 2 Amy and Teresa discuss Youth Poet Laurette, Amanda Gorman, and her beautiful and inspiring Inauguration poem The Hill We Climb. This lady is exploding at the seams with talent. The poem in book form would make an amazing graduation present for someone, or get it for yourself. So inspiring and hopeful.

In Episode 24, Amy talks about the Pep Talk Postcards which are a fun way to give a bit of a lift to a friend, loved one, or even a complete stranger. These postcards are a fun way to let someone know they matter to you.

Ok, this book is about the ultimate “tree-hugger”. Julia “Butterfly” Hill spent almost two years living in a old growth redwood to prevent it from being harvested by a timber company. It sounds absolutely crazy. But when you read about her dedication to preserving the forest, you start to understand that her passion and love for the natural world is really beautiful and moving. Amy covers this book in podcast 24, and it really touched her. Maybe you should give it a read.

Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

Will Rogers

In Episode 25, Amy gives an overview of the life of former First Lady Laura Bush. Regardless of your politics, you can appreciate this great lady. Our podcast can only scratch the surface, and you owe it to yourself to find out more about Laura Bush. She has had an incredible life and continues to help others even now. She is definitely someone you should read about.

In finding inspiring women to write about for May, our month celebrating mothers, Teresa came across Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History’s Mightiest Matriarchs. She has loved this book. These are not the same old stories about the same old people, but really some amazing stories about women who did extraordinary things. The writing is fun, the artwork is wonderful, and there are so many cool stories about women you have never heard of, but absolutely should know.

In Episode 7, Teresa introduces us to Keah Brown, a journalist, an activist, and the creator of #disabledbutcute. Author should be added to that list, as Keah has written a book of essays about being disabled and being black in America. It is a look at how people of color and people with disabilities, and disabled people of color are portrayed in American culture and what can be done to change it. The book is thought provoking as well as interesting. It is certainly worth a read.

In both Episode 1 and again in Episode 27, Teresa talked about Phillip Hoose and one of his books The Boys Who Challenged Hitler. This is a great book for both adults and teens. It tells the amazing story of a band of Danish boys who band together to sabotage the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War II. Its a compelling read that captures a slice of history in an engaging way. This is not a history textbook though, it reads more like an adventure story, but it did play out in real life, and the way these boys stood up to the Nazi’s will impress you.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

Irena Sendler is one of the most courageous women you have never heard of. During World War II, she was a Catholic living in Nazi Occupied Poland. All around her the Nazis were forcing Jews and Romani into smaller and smaller areas of Warsaw, eventually penning them off from the city around them to starve. Irena Sendler, risked her life thousands of times to bring aid to the Jews of Warsaw, and eventually helped rescue 2,500 infants and children out of the ghettos of Warsaw, saving their lives. This is an amazing story, and you can learn more about it in Episode 27. If you want to dig even deeper, try reading Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project.

In Episode 28, Teresa touches on the beautifully written book Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected, by Roma Downey. Roma, best known for her role in the tv show Touched by an Angel, is almost poetic in her description of struggles in life and how she dealt with them with kindness, spirituality, and love. Filled with stories from her life and accompanied by artwork, poems, quotes and scripture, this book is meant to inspire. Teresa says it is a definite “must read”.

In Episode 7, Teresa does a deep dive on Melissa Stockwell, a decorated Iraq vet, who lost her leg in an explosion while serving in Iraq. Melissa went on to be a world champion paratriathlete and later a coach who has inspired countless disabled people to join the world of triathlon as an endurance sport and in competition. Melissa Stockwell’s attitude defies her disability and makes her an amazing athlete without limits. This woman can teach you a lot about breaking down barriers and doing what you love.

In Episode 30, Teresa talks about Tracey Stewart, part of the Jon Stewart/Tracey Stewart power duo. Tracey is animal activist, vet tech, and author. Her book, Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide To How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Animal’s Lives Better, covers all kinds of animal aspects, from birth to death, and how we as people can help animals. It is beautifully illustrated and her love of animals just shines through. If you are an animal lover or someone you know is an animal lover, this book is for you!

So many of us know Michael J. Fox as an actor- most famous for his roles in the Back to the Future trilogy, Teen Wolf and as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. He has a ton of acting credits to his name, but he is also an author. Michael has been fighting Parkinson’s Disease since he was diagnosed at the age of 29. He has continued acting, but he has also been an advocate for Parkinson’s research and a HUGE fundraiser for medical research. As Amy discusses in Episode 33, Micheal is the paragon of optimism and positive attitude, and he shows what you can do if you set your mind to it. Give his books a read, as he is one inspiring guy (his wife Tracy also has some delicious cookbooks out).

It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.

Wangari Maathai

In Episode 34, Amy talks about a book she found and stole from her husband’s bedside table- Humor, Seriously – Why Humor Is A Secret Weapon In Business and Life by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas. These two funny women teach a course at Stanford’s Graduate Business School on how using humor can be an asset in the workplace. The book talks about how humor can break down barriers, relieve stress and even increase productivity in the workplace. What a great tool! The book itself is very funny and the lessons are indeed valuable. And after all, who doesn’t want to be funnier?

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *