All the books we turn to when we’re stuck in a life rut

There are weeks when everything runs smoothly, and then there are those weeks that make us feel so drained, we search desperately for an escape hatch in any form. I recently had one of these weeks. I started a new job and was working harder than ever. Every muscle in my body felt tense and my brain weighed heavy on my skull. One night, after tossing and turning for hours, I sat up in exasperation. I threw back my covers, scrambled out of bed, and – before I knew what was happening – I ended up at my bookcase. I grabbed Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind and returned to bed.

Opening to the first page, I came across a poem simply entitled “1” and began reading. Within seconds, I felt calm. Ferlinghetti’s words wrapped my mind in a warm hug and helped me fall asleep. They pulled me out of my rut. This book was (and still is) my greatest form of medicine. When I woke up the next morning, my mind felt uplifted and light. Light enough for me to wonder, “What books serve as mental medicine for others? What books help my fellow readers when they are stuck in a rut?”

So I asked HelloGiggles’ writers and readers to share the books that ushered them through their toughest moments. Here’s what they said:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“I keep coming back to The Little Prince when I’m feeling a bit lost or sad for the simple message it contains that we grownups often forget: ‘one sees clearly only with the heart.’” – Claire Davidson

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“The motifs and what exists behind the story – ‘so it goes’ is a particular phrase that I hold on to for a multitude of personal reasons – and the concepts within the story stand out to me.” – Lana H.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“I recently took this book off of my bookshelf and put it under my bed because I like to keep it nearby for affirmations of positivity, strength, wisdom, humor, and to remind me that I am not alone in this world.” – Coral T.

“Sometimes I need a super strong inspiration kick and Amy’s words guide me there by being creative, hilarious, heartfelt, hopeful, and just all-around awesome.” – Samantha Kirschberg

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

“I read this book at least once a year because it is an incredible story about having it all and losing it and never giving up (plus treasure and old-timey France).” – Michael Chimko

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It’s the ultimate comfort read, able to take me to a completely different world and so witty that I see something new in it every time I dive between its pages.” – Teri Wilson

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“I always reach for this book to remind me of what is important in life.” – Emily Torre

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

“I like that you can read an entry, a month’s worth of entries, or the whole book — the format lends itself to many different readings; but however you break it down, it’s wondrous.” – Elena Sheppard

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

“This book gives me an incredible and necessary amount of perspective.” – Jessica Tholmer

Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

“It’s a reminder to start small in my writing and to not be overwhelmed by all the big ideas my brain can come up with sometimes.” – Carly Lane

“Both as a writer and as a human being, whenever I feel crippling doubt about my ideas, my execution, or life as a whole, this amazing book is able to remind me to take life lightly, and to focus on my writing (and life itself) as a craft – not as how it will be viewed by society.” – Sammy Nickalls

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“As ‘hipster’ as my choice may be, this book has always made me feel like I’m not alone in traversing through the awkward phases of life; like no matter what happens, there’s always hope for a happy ending to your story.” – Alexandra Daniels

The Art Of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This book never fails to inspire me with hope and ambition, simultaneously put me in touch with feelings of incredible optimism as well as gut-wrenching despair, while it is tenderly – and funnily – narrated from the perspective of a devoted dog about his life and human family.” – Danielle Sepulveres

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

“Because it’s part guilty pleasure and part I-know-I-should-be-reading-a-big-girl-book-or-something-but-DAMN-this-makes-me-feel-good feelings.” – Nicky Valdes

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

“It shows me that women can do anything in this world, even when society tries to hold us back.” – Jillian Daniels

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

“Magical stories have always been my favorite and Neil Gaiman created something for adults that is unlike any fairytale I’ve come across.” – Sydney Weinshel

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

“I’ve read this book more times than I can count because I treat it like an old friend who’s always there to cheer me up.” – Rachel Paige

Now it’s your turn. Share with us those special books that gave you an extra boost when you needed it most.

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