Next time you find yourself before a wall of books in a bookshop or library choose one of the titles on this list. You won’t regret it.
I have read all of these books and I dare say they have made me a better person. Weaving beautiful narratives with life-affirming truths, these titles distill the essence of life into illuminating pages.
1. The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Leo Tolstoy
Why: Because we cannot help but die one day.
2. Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
Why: Because writing is not just words on paper but a way of life.
3. The Poems of Emily Dickinson
Why: Because few things sound sweeter than the whimsy writings of this reclusive girl.
4. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Why: Because the boa constrictor truly swallowed the elephant.
5. Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder
Why: Because the history of philosophy from Socrates to Sartre has never been explained in a more agreeable fashion. And because here the world of men revolves around the simple life of a teenage girl.
6. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
Why: Because sooner or later we will all fall sick, if not with an illness, then with life.
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Why: Because the story of solitude with its deep roots has never been told better.
8. A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees – Kenko
Why: Because to commune with someone from the past whom we have never met can be wonderful. The musings of this Japanese monk can make your solitude seem wonderful.
9. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
Why: Because we want to be effective at what we do and this book shows us how all levels in our life.
10. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Why: Because it can make you a nicer person and helps curb the bad habit of criticizing people.
11. The Epic of Gilgamesh
Why: Because it would not be an overstatement to say that literature began with this book. And also because however hard we may struggle, however great we may become, we may never attain our purpose. However, the understanding of that non-attainment itself is perhaps the greatest attainment in life.
12. No Death, No Fear – Thich Nhat Hanh
Why: Because it shows us how not to fear death.
13. Atlas Obscura – Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton
Why: Because this is a book you can never finish reading. Because it will amaze you with the wonders of a wondrous world. Because it will kindle in you the desire to travel far and wide.
14. The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
Why: Because it is through understanding suffering that we may come out of the dark and bask in the light of a new day.
15. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
Why: Because the present moment is all we will ever have. If you are more spiritual than religious, you could find great comfort in this book.
Have you read any of these books? And what book special to you would you add to this list?