The City of Ember
The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend, Doon, must race to figure out the clues to keep the lights on. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger. If they fail? The lights will burn out and darkness will close in forever.
The Kite Runner
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, caught in the tragic sweep of history, The Kite Runner transports readers to Afghanistan at a tense and crucial moment of change and destruction. A remarkable story of friendship, this book demonstrates the power of reading, the price of betrayal, the possibility of redemption, and the strength of father-son love.
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse that started with his grandfather and followed generations of Yelnatses. Now, Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at this camp—the boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig for the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime, punishment, and redemption.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry that will learn that he’s really a wizard. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend a great school for wizards and begins to discover more about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty as his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a magical world he never knew existed.
Lord of the Flies
As provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, Lord of the Flies continues to ignite passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary boys marooned on a coral island has been labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, and even a vision of the apocalypse. But above all, it has earned its place as one of the indisputable classics of the twentieth century for readers of any age.
The Grapes of Wrath
First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
The Color Purple
A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to each other across time, distance, and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of characters and their experiences. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, and resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alive Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.
E. B. White
Since its publication in 1952, Charlotte’s Web has become one of America’s best-loved children’s books. For fifty years, this timeless story of the pig named Wilbur and the wise spider named Charlotte who saved him has continued to warm the hearts of readers everywhere. Now this classic, a 1953 Newbery Honor book, comes to life in a delightful unabridged recording, read lovingly by the author himself.
War and Peace
At a glittering society party in St. Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey, and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge case, from aristocrats and pearsants, to soldiers and Napoleon himself. In War and Peace, Tolstoy entwines grand themes—conflict and love, birth and death, free will and fate—with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur.
The Book Thief (Anniversary Edition)
It’s 1939 in Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. With superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Trust is a much-needed manual for the repair and restoration of the social quality on which all democracies rely. One of Canada’s most revered governors general, David Johnston mines his long life and varied career to give Canadians twenty ways to make themselves, their institutions, and their country more worthy of trust. Some ways are individual. And some are societal. As such, every Canadian, and every person who cares about their democratic way of life, is wise to heed David Johnston’s polite yet pressing call. You can become more worthy of trust. You can spot and encourage this vital quality in others. You can be an instrumental force in restoring trust in your community and country—making them better for yourself and your fellow citizens, and the world better for all.
Eat Pray Love
This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells readers how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.
A Thousand Splendid Suns Illustrated Edition
This deluxe illustrated edition of A Thousand Splendid Suns is filled with striking and memorable photographs that bring Khaled Hosseini’s compelling story to life. A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.
The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Young, orphaned Mary Lennox is sent to live with her reclusive uncle, Archibald Craven. All but ignored by Craven, and kept away from her sickly cousin Colin, Mary happens upon a secret, walled garden. As she starts to work in it, the garden begins to flourish, and so do Mary and her new family.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together, this dynamic pair begins a journey through space, aided by a galaxy of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrow—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!
A Wrinkle in Time
Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you don’t know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg’s father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: a woman who struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. She lives a carefully timetabled life in which she avoids social interactions and weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone cats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
R. J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included in the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include that of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
The Power of One
In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams—which are nothing compared to what life actually has in story for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.
Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, a political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
How to Stop Time
Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school teacher. On his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher who seems fascinated by him—but Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society—the secret group which protects people like Tom—has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past or finally begin living in the present.
Reasons to Stay Alive
Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, he is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas pere
Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel is a tale of wrongful imprisonment, adventure, and revenge. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’lf. There, he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape, but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. A hugely popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, this book was inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment.
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
In this book, Viktor E. Frankl encourages us to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead think of ourselves as those who are being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately makes us take the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
The Book of Ruth
This exquisite book confronts real-life issues of alienation and violence from which the author creates a stunning testament to the human capacity for mercy, compassion and love.
A Million Little Pieces
A Million Little Pieces is a story of drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation as it has never been told before. Recounted in visceral, kinetic prose, and crafted with a forthrightness that rejects piety, cynicism, and self-pity, it brings us face-to-face with a provocative and new understanding of the nature of addiction and the meaning of recovery.
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (originally published as A Cup of Friendship)
After hard luck and heartbreak, Sunny finally finds a place to call home—in the middle of an Afghanistan war zone. There, the thirty-eight-year-old serves up her American hospitality to the expats who patronize her coffee shop. True to her name, Sunny bonds with people whose language and landscape are unfamiliar to most Westerners, but whose hearts and souls are very much like our own. In this gorgeous first novel, New York Times bestselling author Deborah Rodriguez paints a stirring portrait of a faraway place where—even in the fog of political and social conflict—friendship, passion, and hope still exist.
Left to Tell
Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994, her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Miraculously, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.
The Music Shop
It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb, there is a music shop that stands small and brightly-lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. One day, a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, comes to theshop to who ask Frank to teach her about music. The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music—and love—in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction.
The Game of Life and How to Play It
Florence Scovel Shinn
Louise L. Hay, whose writings and talks have brought inspiration, hope, and healing to millions of people around the world, credits The Game of Life for inspiring her at a key turning point in her early career. Shinn was one of the gifted teachers who profoundly shaped the field of personal transformation and spiritual growth. Her writings are known for their clarity, simplicity, and power.
The Infinite Game
How do we win a game that has no end? Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind. The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in? In this revelatory new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset.
The Law of Attraction
The Awakened Life: The Law of Attraction teaches you how to take back control and live the abundant life you were meant to have. In this enlightening guide, you’ll discover how to start thinking about your life in a new way. You’ll learn how to translate your thoughts into positive energy that can change the direction of your life and bring great things into your world! Whether it’s your health, relationships, or career that you’re struggling with, you’ll get concrete, practical strategies for applying the Law of Attraction to transform your life in ways you never thought possible.
As a hospice chaplain, Kerry Egan didn’t offer sermons or prayers, unless they were requested; in fact, she found, the dying rarely want to talk about God, at least not overtly. Instead, she discovered she’d been granted a powerful chance to witness firsthand what she calls the “spiritual work of dying”—the work of finding or making meaning of one’s life, the experiences it’s contained, the people who have touched it. Instead of talking, she mainly listened: to stories of hope and regret, shame and pride, mystery and revelation and secrets held too long. Most of all, though, she listened as her patients talked about love. This isn’t a book about dying—it’s a book about living.
Our Souls at Night
In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. His wife died years ago and, because they live in such a small town, they have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. Addie and Louis have long been living in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk to. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better–their pleasures and their difficulties–a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.
Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown
Alan W. Watts
Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown is Watts’s meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao. Tao is a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living in to them. This book explores themes such as the natural world, established religion, race relations, karma and reincarnation, astrology and tantric yoga, the nature of ecstasy, and much more.
The Book of Joy
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy. This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecedented week together, from the first embrace to the final goodbye.
The Magic of Believing
As if by magic, some people know how to make wishes come true. In this classic exploration of mental visualization and autosuggestion, journalist and businessman Claude M. Bristol discloses the secret of turning belief into success. Bristol learned early in life that if he clearly visualized his goals, and strongly believed in them, he would attain them.
We Were the Lucky Ones
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety. As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
A Dog's Way Home
Abby knows that Tam, her Shetland sheepdog, is her north star, and she’s pretty certain she’s his, too. But when an accident separates them, it feels as though all the stars have fallen out of the sky and nothing will ever be right again. As the days between them turn to weeks, then months, dangers and changes fill up Abby’s and Tam’s lives. Will they ever find their way home to each other? Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, A Dog’s Way Home is an unforgettable tale of the many miles, months, and mountains that divide two loyal friends—but that can’t possibly keep them apart.
The Year of Magical Thinking
In this dramatic adaptation of her award-winning, bestselling memoir, Joan Didion transforms the story of the sudden and unexpected loss of her husband and their only daughter into a stunning and powerful one-woman play. The first theatrical production of The Year of Magical Thinking opened at the Booth Theatre on March 29, 2007, starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by David Hare.
Where Is the Mango Princess?
When her husband Alan is injured in a speedboat accident, Cathy Crimmins reluctantly assumes the role of caregiver and learns to cope with the person he has become. No longer the man who loved obscure Japanese cinema and wry humor, Crimmins’s husband emerged from the accident a childlike and unpredictable replica of his former self with a short attention span and a penchant for inane cartoons. Where Is the Mango Princess? is a breathtaking account that explores the very nature of personality-and the complexities of the heart.
Educated is an unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen when she set foot in a classroom for the first time. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to make a new kind of life for herself. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. If you’re looking for major inspiration, look no further.
A Walk to Remember
“When I was seventeen, my life changed forever.” So begins Nicholas Sparks’ touching tale of Landon Carter, a teenage boy living in the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina in the late 1950s. Landon is a typical teenager who just wants to have a fun senior year before heading off to college. The last thing he anticipated is Jamie Sullivan, the sweet, pious daughter of the town’s Baptist minister. But on the evening of Beaufort’s annual Christmas pageant, Landon will undergo a change of heart that will forever alter the course of his life. In the months that follow, Landon discovers truths that it takes most people a lifetime to learn—truths about the nature of beauty, the joy of giving, the pain of loss, and, most of all, the transformational power of love.
Mer Cavallo thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches this mystery as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the facts. Before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Will survive long enough to find out?
Escape from Camp 14
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk. In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.
I Heard God Laughing
To Persians, the poems of Hafiz are not “classical literature” from a remote past but cherished wisdom from a dear and intimate friend that continues to be quoted in daily life. With uncanny insight, Hafiz captures the many forms and stages of love. His poetry outlines the stages of the mystic’s “path of love”—a journey in which love dissolves personal boundaries and limitations to join larger processes of growth and transformation.
The Story of My Life
Helen Keller’s triumph over her blindness and deafness has become one of the most inspiring stories of our time. Here, in a book first published when she was young woman, is Helen Keller’s own story—complex, poignant, and filled with love. With unforgettable immediacy, Helen’s own words reveal her heart and her struggles and joys, including the memorable moment when she finally understands that Anne’s finger-spelled letters w-a-t-e-r is the word for the fluid rushing over her hand. Helen Keller’s sincere and eloquent memoir is deeply moving for the sighted and the blind, the deaf and the hearing.
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and storytelling, she invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs—and her disappointments. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations and whose story inspires us to do the same.
During these stressful and uncertain times, it can be difficult to maintain a positive mindset. We asked our Twitter followers what books they would recommend to someone who’s losing hope and their responses were incredible. No matter your age or your reading preferences, there’s something for everyone in this list of hopeful books. Check out the suggestions below!
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