Ten Books to Read When You're Going Through A Hard Time

1. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
"I took a deep breath and listened to the bold brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am." 
Michelle Taliento: "It can be nice to hear someone going through what you're going through."
Grace Leneghan: "I read The Bell Jar only this past winter when I was in the process of healing from some rough times. When I went to see a psychiatrist, she greeted me, saw I had it with me, smiled, and commented, "Interesting choice"... I think about that and try not to take myself too seriously."

2. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
"It was in a bathtub back in New York, reading Italian words aloud from a dictionary, that I first started mending my soul. My life had gone to bits and I was so unrecognizable to myself that I probably couldn't have picked me out of a police lineup. But I felt a glimmer of happiness when I started studying Italian, and when you sense a faint potentially for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles if that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt - this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight." 
Philipe AbiYouness: "It kind of touches really acutely on the idea of how hard it can actually be to be happy and at how in certain times in your life you have to break it down to the bare minimum of things that you'll enjoy and through them you can pull yourself back up. You have to take care of yourself and this book certainly talks about that".

3. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
"If you aren't unhappy sometimes, you don't know how to be happy."
Mary Gael Britton: "I was fairly young when I read A Wrinkle in Time and though I loved it for its story, then, I didn't really understand the broad thematic details that I have grown to love. It appeals to my heart and moral center, it maintains that good is everywhere and in our world; that people can be good and help and love one another. It not only has a loving family dynamic that functions as a source of strength for the characters, it shows that people have flaws, that our idols, too, are not always strong and that being an adult doesn't necessarily mean being perfect or strong or right. It appeals to me as a feminist, the main character is a girl who basically saves the world and her family from darkness and I relate to her - she, too, is bespectacled and bookish and struggles with emotional things but overcomes them to help others. It also has a theology that is not overtly Christian necessarily but just center on that Goodness that I mentioned earlier and it's well written and made me feel smart and is perfect".

4. salt - Nayyirah Waheed
"in our own ways we all break. it is okay to hold your heart outside of your body for days. months. years. at a time. - heal"
Michelle Taliento: "It's a book of poetry. It was comforting in a way. And sometimes when I am feeling really down, putting a lot of mental energy in something doesn't work for me. But these poems are short... and hopeful... and sad."

5. The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein
"He treaded air above the town, 
Sort of cryin' and looking down
At all of us here on the ground. 
Then up he flew, up into the clouds, 
Flapping and flying so far and high, 
Out past the hills and into the sky
Until a tiny speck against the sun
Was all we could see of him... then he was gone." 
- The Long Haired Boy
Shafer Ward: "I go to this for comfort. I like the simplicity of its message. It means a lot of different things at different times in your life. It reminds you to not take for granted the good things in life".

6. Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger
"...don't you know who the Fat Lady really is?... Ah buddy. Ah, buddy. It's Christ Himself. Christ Himself buddy". 
Christine Leneghan: "Okay so when I was in high school and college I was sort of having a crisis in faith because I was starting to question a lot of things and yet I still believed in Jesus. The hard part was that I was a Lector and Eucharistic Minister and going through all the stuff that a teenager and young adult go through. So there was a dichotomy where I would go out with my friends and then still go to church. Franny and Zooey was about two young siblings who were also questioning themselves and the dichotomy between society and religion. It helped me understand that it was okay to live your life and experience stuff and have perspective while still maintaining faith".

7. Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
"You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve" - Ginny Weasley.
Michelle Kim: "It's my childhood perfectly Christmas-wrapped in a series".
Caroline Cromwell: "Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite, but really all of them. They got me through rough times in middle school/high school. Whenever I was feeling sad or lonely, I knew there was always a happy place I could return to, full of magic and wonder".
Grace Leneghan: "Harry Potter has defined my generation. We are free-thinkers and magic-seekers. Anyone who has read the books knows how they can make you feel so safe and adventurous at the same time".
Marley Crank: "I love the series because it taught me about the highs and lows of friendship. It's not always perfect or what you were expecting, but it's the brightest of all lights". 
Kelly Dillon: "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light".
Bez Lem: "I loved how dark it was for a children's book. For example, from get go, protagonist is orphan- parents murdered. Boom I'm hooked".
Mikaela Simon: "It was the first book series I ever read on my own. It had strong female characters and demonstrated strong relationships between people. I learned so much about love and compassion from this amazing series".
Andrew Barnes: "It gave me a place to hide. It gave me a magical land that I could escape to when I needed it most. When I was involved in the series I felt safest, I felt like I had a purpose and a priority to finish their stories".
Ariana Treat: "It is a world that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The adventure isn't just within the pages, because there are so many aspects you could relate to. Among hippogriffs and flying cars, there is real tragedy and heartbreak as well as friendship and forgiveness. Some days it's an escape, while other days it provides much needed answers. Either way, who wouldn't want to go to Hogwarts? We are all just wizards whose letters got lost in the mail".
Cassidy Nogueria: "Because magic... aaaaand Hogwarts was my home too. Another fantastic thing about the series is that it's so LONG... there are seven hefty books that give you the details, the intricacies, the complexities to really flesh out the world in which I can escape to. There are so many places, moments, and people I could return to whenever I chose to do so. You grow up with Harry and you can change your perceptions on people and things like 400 different times. J.K. Rowling really crafted out this world for people to get lost and identify themselves in, and that really sets HP apart from other series".
Gabi Bisconti: "Harry Potter gave me a place to escape to when I needed it. The books taught me how to make my own decisions, be independent, learn to speak up for myself, and when to take responsibility. The books made me a stronger reader and writer, and inspired me to pursue English because of my love for them. The beauty of the books it that you grow with the characters. They go through every single thing that a normal 11-18 year old goes through, on top of the more fantastical issues. Both the books and the films increased my critical thinking abilities too. The language isn't lofty, it's accessible while not being dumbed down. And there are absolutely no plotholes in the storyline: everything is tied up in one way or another by the end. On top of all this, J.K. Rowling gave me both herself and Hermione as two women that I aspire to be like: they are creative, funny, unwavering in their values, intelligent, and strong females. Harry Potter is why I am pursuing film,why I am an avid reader, and why I am a feminist".

8. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
"He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey". 
Mary Leneghan: "Every character has flaws. You basically despise everyone at some point and that seems like the worst novel but it's so amazing. I don't know how F. Scott Fitzgerald does it. Also it's a dark version of a love story but you're not exactly rooting for the love part of it,but there's still so much hope shown throughout the entire novel. I just get so into it each time I read it".

9. Kiss Me Like a Stranger - Gene Wilder
"Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple"
Ronald Kitts: "It's a memoir. Gene Wilder. He talks about, well he struggled with a lot of different psychoses and lost the love of his life. He used her humor after she was dead and that kept her alive. It's hopeful".

10. The Writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late" - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" - Henry David Thoreau
"It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof" - Henry David Thoreau
MJ Santry: "When I was in middle and high school I had gotten hella depressed. I was so stressed out because I took on everything and just overloaded myself academically and with extracurriculars, but I was also so fed up with the education system, hypocritical Catholic school dogma, bullshit drama, etc. My sophomore year of high school my honors lit teacher was a bit of a secret hippy and made us read some Emerson & Thoreau - which was incredibly helpful to me during that time. For once it introduced and embraced a perspective that encourages questioning the way things are rather than a blind acceptance that was so fiercely ground into us. Looking back on it, reading from those two writers gave me the reassurance that I needed at the time that life was meant to be purposeful and that I wasn't just crazy for being fed up with the empty monotony that seemed to plague my Catholic high school".

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post. A huge thank you to all who contributed their thoughts and feelings about these books. Comment below and tell me a book that helped you through a rough time!


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