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Top 5 Books To Read When You Are Struggling

I love reading good books. They can educate us about new topics we have never heard before, entertain us after a long day at work and transport us to a magical world where we can escape for a few hours from our mundane lives.

Reading can also encourages and uplifts us when our spirits sag – especially when we are dealing with major life changes that alter the course of our lives.

I have gone through the deep valley of grief, depression and hopelessness myself (You can read about it on this post.) and these books help me get through the dark season.

top 5 books to read when you are struggling with grief, depression and hopelessness

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Below are my top 5 book recommendation to read when you are struggling with grief, depression and hopelessness:

1. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, suffered immense grief and isolation in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. With the help of her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton who did an extensive research on how to find strength in the face of adversity, she found her ways out of the deep valley.

The book not only features stories on how to deal with losing someone you love but also stories on facing adversity due to family challenges, job loss, health issues, hate and violence, abuse and sexual assault, incarceration, and natural disaster.

You can learn about building resilience and finding joy again after a life-shattering experience. Furthermore, you can apply the lessons in dealing with your everyday struggles.

2. Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy

by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard

This is a wonderful 365-day biblical devotional to provide comfort, inspiration, encouragement and practical principles you can apply in the first year of your bereavement.

No matter what causes your grief – losing someone you love, divorce, losing the life you have built or any other life crisis, grief can linger for a while. You are dealing with unlived tomorrows. All your dreams and plans for the future have shattered into a million pieces on the floor.

The book is full of stories of people who had gone through grief and recover from it. It is a wonderful source of inspiration as you process your grief and take a daily step toward healing.

3. Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended To Bear

by Max Lucado

I learned the concept of laying the burdens I am carrying from my recent trial from this book.

This book is based on Psalm 23 that the Lord is our shepherd.

Even if you are a non-believer, you will get helpful insights on how to deal with the emotional baggage that we lug around as we journey in life. They can take form in the burden of a small god, doing things your own way, weariness, worry, hopelessness, guilt, arrogance, death, grief, fear, loneliness, shame, disappointments, envy, doubt and homesickness.

These burdens are like weights on our shoulders. They slow us down in our journey and make things so much more difficult than they are supposed to be.

In extreme cases, people have been reported to take their own lives because they are so weary of life and lose all hope that things are going to get better. We need to learn how to lay these burdens down.

4. Life Without Limits

by Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs. He suffered bullying and depression since he was little. At the age of 10, he tried to commit suicide by drowning himself in a pool. But, he managed to get through it all and now he becomes a world-renowned motivational speaker.

He teaches on how to overcome hopelessness and see obstacles as an opportunity.

I am so inspired by him. Nick Vujicic overcame physical disabilities and emotional battle that come with it. He learned to be independent even without arms and legs that we often take for granted. Despite all the adversity he had faced, he creates a rich and fulfilling life.

He found his life’s purpose. In his own words, “We can be angry for what we don’t have or be thankful for what we do have” and “If you can’t get a miracle, become one.”

He did become (and is still) a miracle by inspiring millions of people to never lose hope.

5. The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith

by Gabrielle Bernstein

It is a practical spiritual book on how to transform our fear to faith. You can do it through the practice of meditation, prayer, mindful practices and loving connection to yourself and others.

“The reason so many people feel unhappy, unsuccessful, and unsafe is they forgot where their true happiness, success and safety lie.”

No matter what you believe in as the source of love (i.e. God, spirit, consciousness, or the universe), there are practical tips on this book that you can learn and apply as you go through the difficult times.

I believe these books can be added to everyone’s must-read book list.

One thing that I have learned is that our life follows a circular pattern. It’s not a matter of IF we’re going to have difficult times in our lives, but it’s a matter of WHEN. Life will get tough, but it WILL get better in time. Then, we’ll go through the dip again, and the cycle continues on and on…

These books will help you build the resilience muscle for the hard times. Believe that there is a purpose to whatever challenges you are going through.

What are the books on your list to get you through the difficult times in life? I would love to check them out.




  1. Thank you for this lovely post. I’ve found C.S. Lewis to be a really great source for encouragement. A Grief Observed and The Problem of Pain are both great. I’d also highly recommend Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe. It’s seriously so good. Thanks again for sharing this list of books!

  2. I love that there are more and more books focussing on mental health and happiness, the taboe is finally starting to disappear. People don’t choose to be unhappy or depressed or ill. The Universe Has Your Back really popped out for me, I’m going to add it to my list! x

  3. Thanks for sharing. A very nice collection indeed. My favorite, Life Without Limits is really a good read. It makes us realise and believe that we are all capable of doing our best. Have faith and take charge of our own life.

  4. Adding these to my must reads. I also really enjoyed Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams by Randy Pausch! It’s an amazing read. Can’t wait to check these out. Thank you!

  5. It seems like so many people are struggling emotionally these days. Hopefully the very person who needs to read one of these books will see this message that you have shared. “Build the resilience muscle” is an interesting wording. I like it.

    • Totally makes sense. It’s like arming yourself with the knowledge so you know what to do when life throws a curve ball. I recently get my hands on a collection of e-books about healthy living. Lots of the e-books do not apply to my current season of life, but now I am armed with the knowledge for when I get married and raise kids or when I decide to go off grid and raise goats!

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