Magazine / Feeling Adrift? Rediscover Purpose and Meaning with These 9 Books

Feeling Adrift? Rediscover Purpose and Meaning with These 9 Books

Happiness Psychology

At one time or another, nearly all of us end up feeling adrift, questioning where our lives are going and why. Maybe our jobs start to feel tedious and pointless. Maybe a death in the family leaves us numb and isolated. Maybe a cherished hobby or passion doesn’t inspire joy like it used to.

At moments like this, it can be helpful to seek out the wisdom of thinkers who know exactly where to rediscover purpose and meaning in life. So if you’re feeling unmoored, check out the seven inspiring reads below.

Learn something new every day with “Book Bites,” 15-minute audio summaries of the latest and greatest nonfiction. Get started by downloading the Next Big Idea App today!

Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most

By Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, and Ryan McNally-Linz

In A Life Worth Living, named after its authors’ highly sought-after undergraduate course, three Yale University professors provide readers with jumping-off points, road maps, and habits of reflection for figuring out where their lives hold meaning and where things need to change. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, and Ryan McNally-Linz, in the Next Big Idea App

Deeper Mindfulness: The New Way to Rediscover Calm in a Chaotic World

By Mark Williams and Danny Penman

From the authors of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, this anticipated follow-up allows both new and seasoned practitioners of mindfulness and meditation to deepen their practice and alleviate anxiety, stress, depression, and improve overall quality of life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Mark Williams and Danny Penman, in the Next Big Idea App

A Pity Party Is Still a Party: A Feel-Good Guide to Feeling Bad

By Chelsea Harvey Garner

What if all the advice we’ve received about “looking on the bright side” is wrong? What if sadness is actually the key to happiness, and can even be… fun? A beloved psychotherapist is here to make that case, arguing that it’s not enough for us to tolerate hard feelings; we need to embrace them. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Chelsea Harvey Garner, in the Next Big Idea App

Happiness Is Overrated: Simple Lessons on Finding Meaning in Each Moment

By Cuong Lu

Stop chasing happiness and reconnect to the meaning of each moment through this practical guide, told through vignettes of life training as a Buddhist monk under world-renowned spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Cuong Lu, in the Next Big Idea App

The World According to Proust

By Joshua Landy

A Stanford professor reveals Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time as a quest for purpose, enchantment, identity, connection, and belonging, examining the novel’s fascinating treatments of memory, society, art, same-sex desire, knowledge, self-understanding, self-fashioning, and the unconscious mind. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Joshua Landy, in the Next Big Idea App

Tracking Wonder: Reclaiming a Life of Meaning and Possibility in a World Obsessed with Productivity

By Jeffrey Davis

A refreshing counter-voice to the exhausting narrative hyper-productivity, Tracking Wonder is a welcome guide for experiencing more meaning and joy in the present moment as you bring your greatest contributions to life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jeffrey Davis, in the Next Big Idea App

Happiness in Action: A Philosopher’s Guide to the Good Life

By Adam Adatto Sandel

A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Adam Adatto Sandel, in the Next Big Idea App

Life Is Short: An Appropriately Brief Guide to Making It More Meaningful

By Dean Rickles

A University of Sydney philosopher explains why the finiteness and shortness of life is the essence of its meaning―and how this insight is the key to making the most of the time we do have. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dean Rickles, in the Next Big Idea App

The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again

By Catherine Price

If you’re not having fun, you’re not fully living. The author of How to Break Up with Your Phone makes the case that, far from being frivolous, fun is actually critical to our well-being—and shows us how to have more of it. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Catherine Price, in the Next Big Idea App

The Key Ideas in 15 Minutes

“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books,” Roald Dahl once famously said. The only trouble is, reading even one book from cover to cover takes hours—and you may not have many hours to spare.

But imagine for a moment: What if you could read a groundbreaking new book every day? Or even better, what if you could invite a world-renowned thinker into your earbuds, where they personally describe the 5 key takeaways from their work in just 15 minutes?

With the Next Big Idea App, we’ve turned this fantasy into a reality. We partnered with hundreds of acclaimed authors to create “Book Bites,” short audio summaries of the latest nonfiction that are prepared and read aloud by the authors themselves. Discover cutting-edge leadership skills, productivity hacks, the science of happiness and well-being, and much more—all in the time it takes to drive to work or walk the dog.

“I love this app! The Book Bites are brilliant, perfect to have in airports, waiting rooms, anywhere I need to not doomscroll… You guys are the best!” – Missy G.

Go Deeper with a Next Big Idea Club Membership

The Next Big Idea App is free for anyone to try—and if you love it, we invite you to become an official member of the Next Big Idea Club. Membership grants you unlimited access to Book Bites and unlocks early-release, ad-free episodes of our LinkedIn-partnered podcast. You also gain entry to our private online discussion group, where you can talk big ideas with fellow club members and join exclusive live Q&A sessions with featured authors.

For a more focused learning experience, we recommend a Hardcover or eBook Membership. Every few months, legendary authors and club curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink select two new nonfiction books as the must-reads of the season. We then send hardcover copies straight to your doorstep, or eBook versions to your favorite digital device. We also collaborate with the authors of selected books to produce original reading guides and premium video e-courses, 50-minute master classes that take you step by step through their most life-changing ideas. And yes, it’s all available through the Next Big Idea App.

“My biggest Thank You is for the quality of book selections so far. I look on my shelf and see these great titles, and I find myself taking down one or two each month to reread an underlined passage. Full marks to all involved!” – Tim K.

Learn Faster, from the World’s Leading Thinkers

Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch, the Next Big Idea is here to help you work smarter and live better. Wake up with an always-fresh Idea of the Day, the perfect shot of inspiration to go with your morning coffee. Then dive into one of our Challenges, hand-picked collections of Book Bites that form crash courses in subjects like communication, motivation, and career acceleration. Later, watch the playback of an interview with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, or philosopher John Kaag. And be sure to check the “Events” tab in the app, so that you can join an upcoming live Q&A and personally chat with the next featured thought leader.

If you’re hoping to grow as a person or as a professional, we hope you’ll join us and tens of thousands of others who enjoy the Next Big Idea. Get started by downloading the app today!

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