We all go through periods when nothing seems to be going our way. We may be wallowing after a bad breakup or trying to make it through a challenging project at work. There are also those moments when family issues take up our time or our health just isn't at its best. And as bad as these rough patches can be on their own, sometimes they all seem to appear at once. Ugh.
These less-than-ideal periods may be universal, and they come with standard coping mechanisms, too. There are ice cream and movie marathons for getting over an ex, and exercising after a long day at the office. We also tend to talk these issues out with our support systems. But how many of us consider books to bounce back? Self asked its readers and editors to list the titles they turn to when hard times hit. We've rounded up our favorite five recommendations to give you comfort when you need it most.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"I read Americanah shortly after graduating, starting my first job, and moving to New York City. At the time, I felt torn between the person I had been and the person I was now becoming—a tension Adichie beautifully encapsulates in Americanah. Though the book is nearly 500 pages long, I finished it in a week, which should only serve as a testament to how incredible it was." — Lindsey L., 23
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
"I was going through a particularly tough time emotionally and physically, and Strayed's story really made me feel like I could get through it and became such an inspiration to me." — Jessica C., 19
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
"In this book, Kaur talks about the dark parts of life no one wants to address, as well as the beautiful parts in her poetry. Having depression and anxiety throughout high school left me feeling helpless and alone until her stories made me realize I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Her work got me through the roughest patch of my life, and I still repeat some of her ideas to myself to this day to keep me going." — Kathryn A., 18
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
"This book helped me feel again—whether it was happiness about the banter between characters, sadness at the ending, or suspense at the riveting plot, this book captivated me and made me want to talk to people. I didn't feel alone while reading this novel; these characters became my friends and my brothers." — Jessie B., 21
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
"I can rely on David Sedaris books to make me smile and laugh. (Me Talk Pretty One Day is my favorite.) His humor is personal and vulnerable. The way he writes about his life, even the sad or humiliating, is deeply, touchingly funny." — Amanda S., 36
Read all of the recommendations on Self.