Life Advice for Book Lovers: For a Dose of Optimism, Read This.
Book Recommendations for the Troubled Soul
Welcome to Life Advice for Book Lovers, Lit Hub’s advice column. You tell me what’s eating you in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you what you should read next.
The past few years have been rough. Everything is falling apart. The news headlines are depressing. My personal life isn’t great, either, but I don’t feel the need to get into specifics. I wake up most mornings and have mostly dread for the day. Don’t worry: I am in therapy! But I would love to read something that leaves me with a sense of hope.
Also, while I like to read, I was never into the classics and my attention span is shorter than ever, so nothing too complicated or time-consuming, please!
Hoping this letter finds you first thing in the morning, when the day feels heaviest. On the bright side, after you get up today, you only have to do it one (1) more time until the weekend. It’s the little things, right?
The first book that comes to mind for you is Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, a collection of poetic, short essays that will surely charm you. It’s an ode to the small miracles of daily life. It’s really a masterclass in finding joy; it trains you to observe the world through Ross Gay’s optimistic lens. In a way, it reminds me of this pair of swimming goggles I had when I was a kid: they were yellow, so when you looked through them, the world appeared sunnier, even if it was a gray day. Walking around with Ross Gay’s voice in your mind is like that.
The next recommendation I have might be a little weird, but bear with me. Have you ever heard of Markus Zusak’s I Am the Messenger? It’s about a 19-year-old cab driver whose life is going nowhere. But then one day, he accidentally stops a bank robbery. And then he starts getting mysterious notes in the mail with specific times and locations. What’s he supposed to do at these places? And who’s behind these cryptic messages? It’s been a decade and change since I’ve read it, but the ending—and the feeling of hope that it conjures—has endured in my mind.
I know this writer is famous for The Book Thief, and for writing for a younger audience, but I find that books geared toward the next generation are often the things I turn to when I want to feel good about shared future and our collective humanity.
With hugs and hope,