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Reading List for Times When You are Feeling Down

Reading List for Times When You are Feeling Down

As adults, we feel responsible for everything, even how we spend our free time. That’s unfortunate for sure. So it’s important to demarcate wisely between your productive time and downtime. You always have to be productive, resting or indulging in something you like to do should not be considered a luxury.

Every time life gets too hard to bear, re-read the Harry Potter books for a sense of familiarity, watch and re-watch FRIENDS. It’s ok to admit that sometimes we need to distract our self with sometimes that’s not close to our reality, we need those safety nets, filled with advice, that can get you through many difficult moments.

Fictional tales about fairytale characters, memoirs of a life well-lived or the self-help books that we love to hate, every book has a lasting lesson hidden between its pages. Sure, sometimes the message is, ‘I’m not a good book’, but just like with friends, you have to weed through a well-worn pile to find the ones that will always be there for you. The books to get you through tough times.

Books can get you through tough times!

This list isn’t filled with books that tell you to chant affirmations to have a better day, or tell you to ‘do these seven things to live to the age of 143’, they’re filled with nuggets of wisdom to help you through career slumps, bad breakups, loss and more — from memoirs of a live well lived, to actual self-help tomes, I’ve found the books to get you through tough times.

  1. For when you really need to smile: Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Sometimes the books that get you through tough times are thought-provoking, emotion-fuelled tomes you spend hours reading and re-reading. Other times, they appear as a sliver of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is the human version of this sliver of sunshine. The star of Hamilton used to post original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry on Twitter — to encourage himself as much as his followers, and these life-affirming little gestures took on a life of their own. Finding form in a book of of daily greetings, illustrated by artist Jonny Son. They’re tiny nuggets of happiness that will give you that little lift you need on the lowest of days — even if you are the incredible sulk. Just try it.

  1. For when you need tough love: How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky


Sigh, if only there was a guide to being a human being navigating life, adulthood, and simply staying motivated in a world that’s quickly getting stranger. Just a ‘do it like this’ list of all the right ways to do things — whether it’s handling cheating spouses, responding to haters, dealing with nagging mothers, having a baby or pursuing a career – or both. This book is going to be as close as you get to that guide.


Featuring a collection of essays from Heather Havrilesky, the author of the weekly advice column Ask Polly (The Cut), where she answers the readers conundrums with empathy, and a whole lot of sass. As one reader explains, “She zeroes right to the heart of the matter and delivers the straight scoop, no mollycoddling.” So if you need to get your heart (and head) back on track, just Ask Polly.


  1. For when you need inspiration at work: Personal History by Katherine Graham


For a fiction fan like myself, admitting that the books that get you through tough times are sometimes real-life stories was hard. Isn’t escaping to better (often imaginary) places the whole point?

If the thought of meeting a deadline, or waking up for another day filled with work meetings, household chores and crying babies makes you ugly-cry, this Pulitzer prize winner will remind you that you can, in fact, get through it.

See Also


  1. For when you’re grieving: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


Nothing prepares you for grieving. Whether it’s a long illness that takes a loved one, or a sudden accident, grieving, like unending waves on life’s shore, ebbs and falls. On some days, it threatens to drown you, while on others, you simply dip your toes in sadness and get by.


  1. For when you’re searching for the meaning of life: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


“The trouble is, you think you have time” is a quote oft attributed to Buddha. And while it’s a lovely thought, it’s a quote from Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book (1994) — his interpretation of Buddhist teachings.

The thought though, is what counts. We wait until we’re happier, more accomplished, more secure, more ready to do the things that we really want — all because we believe we have a lifetime ahead of us. It wasn’t the case for Paul Kalanithi.


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