8 Books To Help Get You Through Hard Times

Whenever I’m going through a tough time, I reach for a book.

Books not only teach me how to become a better writer, but they’ve also helped me live a better life. Some books exist to help get us through the tough times–they keep us resilient until we can reach the other side of our darkest hour.

Now, there’s no denying it: the world’s going through a tough time right now.

So, for those of you having trouble making sense of all the difficulties that may plague you and this world, I recommend reading the following books:

 8 Books To Help Get You Through Hard Times

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

In the past, I recommend this book to cure writer’s block. But this book has also taught me how to live my life more fully.  It has taught me how to become more aware of the moments when I am betraying myself and my soul’s calling. This book has taught me how to be more protective of myself, and how to make more sense of what plagues me as a person. It’s a book I’ll always cherish and look to for guidance when “the going gets tough.”

The Heart of The Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (and also Buddha Mind, Buddha Body by Thich Nhat Hanh)

After reading a book by Hanh, you are instantly at peace. The world is simple. All is joy and happiness, and suffering and pain cease to exist. Everything becomes more clear. You no longer fear death, disease, or evil. You no longer fear bad news. Because you know that there is no such thing as bad or good. Everything is as it is. Life is perfection and you are already perfect. If you want to find bliss amid your suffering, simply listen to the master, and he will guide you directly there.

Minding The Body, Mending The Mind by Joan Borysenko

I use the relaxation excercise Joan outlines in this book almost on a daily basis. I used to get panic attacks in the past, but now, because of these relaxation techniques, I don’t anymore. Just for that alone, it’s worth reading Joan’s book and learning the great wisdom detailed inside.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using The Wisdom Of Your Body and Mind To Face Pain, Stress, and Illness by John Kabat-Zinn

Zinn outlines his entire relaxation course in this bible-sized book. Even though its long, every page is worth reading. Understanding and mastering the art of “Mindfulness” is one of my new life’s purposes. It will amaze you how, if you only pay attention to a pain, the pain ends up being not as bad as you had once thought. If we simply feel the chair we sit in, sense the air we breathe, and pay attention to the texture of the keys we press, we realize that we really don’t need anything else but this moment. This is a handbook for how to deal with the FULL catastrophe that is life. Also, for those looking to finally understand and implement a meditation routine to radically transform their everyday existence—this book is it.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

If only for the moment when Gilbert teaches us how to rise up from any depression by embracing that which gives us joy. In these tough times, we must wrap ourselves around our greatest joys and allow those joys to lift us up, keep us afloat, and keep us strong.

The Book of Awakening: Having The Life You Want By Being Present To The Life You Have by Mark Nepo

Every story told is a treasure for the mind, heart and soul. Every page is a paradigm-shifting lesson. Every word is a pearl. Every excercise is a game-changer. I’ve quoted Mark Nepo and referred to him many times on the C2C. He’s become very influential to me and the work I do. I think the biggest lesson he teaches us is that our greatest teachers are right under our noses, that suffering is only the catalyst for our growth and wisdom, and that our greatest life is not somewhere, far away, but right here at our doorstep—waiting to be lived.

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’ Donahue

This is one of the most beautiful non-fiction books ever written. Anam Cara is a wisdom book anchored by a Gaelic word meaning “soul friend.” O’Donahue guides us through every part of life in this book: birth, friendship, work, marriage, death and, finally, the afterlife. He approaches every issue with his strange—yet perfect—mixture of poetic, philosophical, academic and spiritual intellect. He can be at once whimsical and thoughtful, both sexy and conservative, simultaneously meandering and yet painfully focused in his prose. He must have been a man more fully himself than most. Ever sentence has within it the whisper of a blessing, and like the introductory poem suggests, this book is a wonderfully warm cloak that will mind your life for years to come.

much love,


What books do you read to help you get through tough times? Please share your recommendations with us in the comments below!

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31 comments on “8 Books To Help Get You Through Hard Times

  1. Christina says:

    Love Eat, Pray, Love!

    Did you like the movie?

  2. nancy says:

    Great list. The first two books are amazing. The Artist’s Way is more like a course. You just want to spend quality time with it. Write. Think. Walk. It’s especially soothing for those who experience twinges of guilt for dedicating too much time to writing or motivating for those who hesitate to part with their time.
    I think I will try some Celtic Wisdom. That’s a new title for me, and it sounds intriguing.

    • Ollin says:

      I love O’Donahue. I wish there was more video of him on the internet. I can’t find much. He was an amazing speaker before he passed. I wish I could have seen him speak live.

  3. Julie says:

    Anything by Eckhart Tolle. He’s my “go to” guy when I need some uplifting.

    Eat, Pray, Love is also one of my favorite books!

  4. So many good books! I’ve read most of these, and now I have more to add to my wishlist.

    One book that really lifted me up at a very difficult time was Deepak Chopra’s “The Path to Love: Spiritual Strategies for Healing.” I credit it for helping me grow from a high school view of love to a broader, more conscious view.

  5. Sandee says:

    Books have been an incredible help for me in overcoming debilitating depression. I could never list all the ones that have impacted me but some of the best for me have been Feeling Good by David Burns, Loving What Is by Byron Katie, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer, The Mindful Way through Depression by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn and lastly, but most powerfully, the Bible, especially the New Testament. Meditating on God’s word has led to powerful transformation in my life.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you for sharing! I love Byron Katie. I haven’t read her book but I’ve been meaning to get to it. I’ve seen her interviews on Oprah’s Soul Series, though. Very fascinating.

  6. Sandee says:

    I’m not sure why my previous comment is “awaiting moderation”. What does that mean?

  7. Jess Witkins says:

    What a variety of book titles. I completely agree with Eat, Pray, Love! Fabulous book. I would add Pride and Prejudice cause it makes me happy, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which got me to start blogging (and now I’m throwing a blog party about celebrating goals!), Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor (her daughter), which is a beautifully language-rich memoir about finding your own, and A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel which is laugh out loud great memoir I identified with having grown up in a small town.

    Love this idea, Ollin, thank you for sharing your list with us.

  8. Ahlam says:

    “The Alchemist” by no other than Paulo Coelho is a book I read during high school which really inspired me, I’ve returned to it in adulthood to help keep the hope alive.

  9. inkspeare says:

    One book that has touched me deeply since I was young is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by RIchard Bach. I still love it after so many years, and when I reread it, I got so much more.

  10. Tammy says:

    My favorite is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

  11. Jaclyn Harr says:

    I have a book that’s called “Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times” and it always serves me pretty well.

  12. Julia says:

    I like to read novels when I’m feeling down (well, not just then). Just finished “Any Human Heart” by William Boyd. It’s great to read about other (even fictitious) people’s lives, gives you some perspective.

  13. Manali Shah says:

    Eat, Pray, Love!
    Another book I like reading when I’m a li’l low is The Jadu House by Laura Roychowdhury. It’s not a popular book at all but I love it.
    And also The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

  14. I am a huge fan of Hafiz, a contemporary of Rumi who could well be described as his trickster twin. Can’t help but feel giddy when I read his poems! =)

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