During these times when days seem to blend into one another, and the global crisis we’re all going through seems to have no end in sight, we all just want to be able to catch a break. While we collectively hope for brighter days ahead, simply reading a book can already take our minds to a better place.
Here are some of our favorite self-help books to address feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, fatigue, and hopelessness in these unprecedented times.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Published in 1946 by Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning gets into a profound and riveting discussion of what makes life worth living, even in the face of hopelessness and suffering. In the first half of the book, Frankl talks about his time in a Nazi concentration camp, and the spiritual lessons he learned while trying to survive each terrible day. The second half contains a discussion of his psychiatric approach called logotherapy, which postulates that every person is motivated by the search for a purpose in life. Overall, the book gives ideas on how one can transform their pain into something that will help them become a better person.
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
This book contains stories about people throughout history who have transformed their hardship into paths to greatness and underlines the importance of cultivating resilience and grit amid difficult times. The ideas in this text were built by Holiday on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, which tells us to endure pain and hardship without being enslaved by our emotions. Holiday’s writing is very accessible and is a good introduction to those new to these philosophical ideas.
To Call Myself Beloved by Leisse Wilcox
Written by Leisse Wilcox, a survivor of breast cancer, divorce, and childhood trauma, To Call Myself Beloved tells a story of “coming home to yourself”; accepting the broken parts of ourselves, and knowing that everything we need to feel whole and loved is already within us. Wilcox narrates her life’s painful experiences and takes us through her journey towards her realization that, at the end of it all, she is still okay. Through this book, she promises readers to be able to develop confidence, clarity, and courage; virtues that can help us weather any difficulty.
Grit. The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
In this book, Duckworth challenges the idea many of us have been sold, that people are born talented, and underlines the greater importance of perseverance and effort in achieving success. Duckworth shares that as a child, her parents told her that she was “no genius”; her achievements in becoming a renowned psychologist, academic, and author are a true testament to how grit and resilience can take us places. As we continue to face the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, Grit can help us understand how we can survive tough times and bounce back once we’re out of this crisis.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Written by an American Buddhist nun, this wonderful book offers a refreshing take on facing our difficulties. It talks about embracing pain, accepting our fears, and being curious about the lessons of our struggles, instead of escaping them. Chodron teaches the reader how to deal with the ups and downs of life by just letting things be; looking at emotions such as frustration, sadness, and anger not as things to be avoided, but rather, as teachers that can lead us to our own personal growth.