If you’re currently contemplating the meaning of life, seeking purpose, comfort and wisdom in literature, here's a variety of books from ones on meaning and life purpose (Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is a strong contender for this).
Man’s Search for Meaning (Non-fiction) by Viktor E. Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning is a significant literary text for coming to terms with suffering, making sense of difficult situations and finding our purpose in life. The author, an Auschwitz Nazi death camp survivor and prominent psychiatrist, observed that the people who offered their last morsel of food or who supported and comforted others at the camp were the ones who survived the longest. He noticed that it was their attitude in any given situation that prolonged their survival. He concluded that people’s most important desire is their pursuit of meaning and illustrates in the book that only through suffering, do we find meaning and the drive to keep going. The book advocates finding meaning in three different ways: through making ourselves useful to others, through unconditionally loving others and through suffering. Readers and critics across the globe have often quoted this book as ‘life-changing’ and I hope it has a similar impact on you.
The Glass Castle (Memoir) by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption from journalist Jeannette Walls – her and her 3 siblings survived parents who were deeply dysfunctional. Her father drank copiously and her mother turned a blind eye, pushing away her parental responsibilities, barely feeding the children (it was a miracle that they survived) and abhorring domestic life. They travelled from state to state in the US, barely making ends meet. Miraculously, the children fed and clothed themselves, eventually escaping to New York in young adulthood and becoming successful in their own way. Jeannette Walls narrates her story and how through powerful goal setting, her and her siblings thrived. Packed with powerful life lessons, I hope this book will inspire you and show you the path to resilience and illustrate the magic of goals.
The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Non-fiction) by Alan Watts
A powerful little book that will literally change your mindset. Those who have read the book report a shift in mindset and the way they look at the world. Based on Eastern philosophies and the Hindu concept of Vedanta, the book discusses how we are all part of a greater consciousness, rather than isolated beings. In fact acting in isolation removes joy, brings discontent and is destructive—we view everyone and everything with hostility, abusing nature and our own people. It leaves us helpless, angry and traumatised. By recognising that we are connected to everyone and everything around us, we act differently, make better decisions, leave the ego at the door and become more self-aware.
Related recommended reading lists:
Breaking Up With A Friend
Consolation in times of sorrow
More book prescriptions can be found at Book Therapy.
A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.
You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.
In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish a book called The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.booktherapy.io.
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