Life often leaves us emotionally untethered, overwhelmingly stressed, or just plain down in the dumps. When corporate self-help books ring hollow, you can draw inspiration from some of history’s great works of storytelling. While uplifting books could more than fill any bookshelf, here are just a few of the most inspiring works of literature for you to draw upon in challenging times.
This has been a standby for centuries. Since the first publication of the King James Bible in 1611, readers have turned to the books of the Bible for spiritual guidance and daily inspiration. Over both the Old and New Testaments, readers can find a wealth of inspirational verses for various situations in their lives.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks
In this collection of essays adapted from case studies of his unusual and idiosyncratic patients, famed neurologist and author Oliver Sacks details his patients’ singular struggles, such as the titular case of a man with visual agnosia, the inability to connect images with words or concepts. Dr. Sacks presents this anthology with grace and dignity, leaving readers with a renewed sense of wonder.
Tuva or Bust! – Ralph Leighton
Before the Soviet Union subsumed the independent nation of Tannu Tuva, this mysterious nation ever-so-briefly appeared on maps and globes between Russia and Mongolia. Physicist Richard Feynman aspired to visit this intriguing nation as the crowning achievement of a life of intellectual curiosity. While he was never able to complete the trip, this ode to friendship and the lifelong quest for learning will inspire readers to plan figurative Tuvan odysseys of their own.
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel concerns the journey of Amir, an Afghan immigrant to California who returns to Central Asia to visit his father’s onetime servant. The story is an examination of the relationships we build throughout our lives and how they form and shape us.
Educated – Tara Westover
The child of fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints in the Idaho backcountry, memoirist Tara Westover recounts her efforts to leave behind the insularity of her homeschooled upbringing and pursue a traditional education at Brigham Young University. Overcoming abusive family members and a glaring culture shock, the author is able to attain multiple degrees and thrive in the modern world. Published in 2018, this memoir has already taken its place among the most inspiring works of literature.