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    30 Books To Get You Through An Existential Crisis

    "I get so caught up in the magical realism, it’s easy to forget my own crisis."

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    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what books helped them get through an existential crisis. Here are some of the best results:

    1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a historical novel that follows the life of an adopted girl growing up in Nazi Germany – with Death as a narrator.

    Picador

    "Since May of this year, I had my world turned upside down, so I lost who I was awhile. Aside from my Netflix deep dive, I turned to a couple of books. One was The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. The writing is so beautifully done and the story itself has so many elements to it. It always comforts me (even if that sounds morbid because it involves Death and Nazi Germany)." —kdgalways

    "Though in many ways, it is about the importance of words and the power of writing; it was Death as a narrator that gave me pause. The final line of the book (which I later got tattooed) is spoken by him: 'I am haunted by humans.' There is so much beauty and ugliness intertwined in the world, so much so that not even Death can comprehend it. And while we walk around haunted by the thought of death, in fact, it is humanity that is haunting in itself." —michelles123

    Get it from Amazon for $6.14+, Barnes & Noble for $8.18+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling immerses you in a magical world you'll want to enter over and over again.

    amazon.com

    "My life basically came to a screeching halt in 2015 and through all of the dark times, I read the entire Harry Potter series. The queen J.K. Rowling got me through by reminding me to just turn on the light." —capngeech

    "Honestly, the Harry Potter series has kept me going. Whenever I feel stressed out or needlessly worried, I go to my bookshelf and immerse myself into a world of magic and heroes overcoming terrible circumstances. It calmed me as a kid and still does to this day. Not sure where I would be without Harry, Ron, and Hermione." —elyseb485436d41

    "My mom was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, and while sitting in waiting rooms during her surgeries, and by her side during her chemo, I re-read the books. They were such a comfort through it all. I now read them about once a year; and when my fiancé proposed, he did so with the ring around a replica of the Elder Wand. She's been cancer-free for seven years, but I still have that same feeling every time I pick up The Sorcerer's Stone and immerse myself in the world of magic." —dream82mp

    Get it from Amazon for $52.16+, Barnes & Noble for $54.74, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a children's novel filled with the fantastic adventures of Milo. The lessons this sad, bored boy learns on his journey just may resonate with us all.

    Random House

    "It's an absolutely beautiful book about a boy named Milo who doesn't appreciate life; and the mysterious adventure he takes, which changes his outlook. It's so clever and filled with all kinds of wordplay, and it deserves to be far more famous than it is!" —wittman

    "Love the anthropomorphic characters like Humbug (the dismissive bug), and Rhyme and Reason (the two missing princesses). Rich tapestry of metaphorical lessons." —aileena3

    Get it from Amazon for $4.99+, Barnes & Noble for $7.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    4. How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson challenges the workload of modern day life with a loafer's manifesto.

    barnesandnoble.com

    "Doing nothing is often times the best answer." —ilivinglite

    Get it from Amazon for $5.99+ or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    5. Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun is an illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to earth long after all the humans are dead, and the creatures he befriends along the way.

    Harper Collins

    "Best book ever. It's so full of love and joy. It's about a little alien who comes to Earth to learn about humans, only to find out they're all dead. He falls in love with all these animals that live in the forest. There's a beaver who just wants to build his dam home with his dam sticks. There is also a hedgehog who is an introvert. The hedgehog describes introversion and extroversion like this: 'introverts like people-watching, and extroverts like people watching.' Everything about this book is precious. I'm pretty sure I cried the whole time I was reading it." —megand4704d7457

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $9.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    6. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut re-invisions humanity's placement within time, with a heavy dose of wit.

    amazon.com

    "Slaughterhouse Five. Blows my mind every. single. time." —rosek4a41e4b1b

    "After my grandmother died I started questioning things a lot, and it reminded me that sometimes things just are. There is no point in searching everything for a reason. There is no why. It helped me make peace with my situation and try to live in the moment; and not blame myself or others for things that have happened." —maceybug3162

    Get it from Amazon for $10.71+, Barnes & Noble for $10.83+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    7. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff is an introduction to Taoism allegorically explained through our hero, Winnie the Pooh.

    Dutton Books

    "This book encompasses the ideas of Taoism told through Winnie the Pooh. It sounds like a children's book but it actually isn't, it's very humbling and helped me feel balanced!" —bradyg48d175089

    Get it from Amazon for $12.72+, Barnes & Noble for $13.69+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    8. Her Name In The Sky by Kelly Quindlen explores what happens when a girl loves a girl in a "girl loves boy" world.

    amazon.com

    "This a love story between two girls in high school, and a coming out story that is definitely worth the read. The protagonist Hannah goes through a journey to reconcile her Catholic upbringing and faith in God; while also realizing that she’s a lesbian. It’s heart-wrenching, hopeful, and incredibly relatable." —lindseyd14

    Get it from Amazon for $5.99+ or Barnes & Noble for $5.99.

    9. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera is a novel about the artistic and intellectual life of Czech society during the Prague Spring period, as seen through two women, two men, and a dog.

    Harper & Row

    "This book has gotten me through two messy breakups, and more than a few complete and utter breakdowns. The book itself focuses a lot on the crushing realities of navigating relationships and human sexuality in general. The questions that the characters ask of each other and themselves are thought provoking and so innately human; you can't help but break away from the text and ask the same questions of yourself. How much can we control in ourselves, how much can we ask of others, how well can we choose to live, how should we define happiness, and what does any of this mean? It's a heartbreaking novel, and it's riddled with all of the intense things that we ask ourselves repeatedly. My favorite line from the book is written behind a photo strip I have taped to my desk of me and my husband: 'there is no perfection, only life.'" —drea7is7fancy

    Get it from Amazon for $3.57, Barnes & Noble for $13.41+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    10. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt immerses you in the impoverished world of Limerick, Ireland, during the 1930s and '40s – and one boy's struggle to overcome it all.

    simonandschuster.com

    "Reading about one man's impoverished childhood made me eternally grateful for everything we take for granted. I read it in high school and it made me so appreciative of everything in my life. Everyone should read this book." —l4a2f7441e

    Get it from Amazon for $10.70+, Barnes & Noble for $10.75+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    11. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that opens with this sentence: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974."

    amazon.com

    "I'm not intersex like Cal, but the book is so much more than that. It shows that life goes on after heartbreak and whatever else kind of bullshit you go through. Not only that life goes on for you, but it goes on for other people around you. And it shows unconditional love and forgiveness from a family in such a truthful, relatable way; it makes me appreciate my own family when times are tough." —alyh47ceb9f77

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $9.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    12. Life of Pi by Yann Martel tells the story of a young man named Pi, as he embarks on a life-altering journey of survival and spirituality.

    amazon.com

    "I'm not even religious, but how he talks about spirituality changed my perspective on everything — not to mention the whole relationship/symbolism of the tiger. In the last few chapters of the book where everything is made more clear, and the ending; it shifted something in my soul. It was a mega-popular read, but if there is a single person out there that hasn't read it — do it! The movie is gorgeous but not half as much as the book (I know, I know, I hate hearing that, too)." —bauxjangles

    Get it from Amazon for $10.05+, Barnes & Noble for $10.05+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a memoir about addiction, loss, and one woman's 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

    amazon.com

    "This book helped me to learn that I am responsible for my own happiness, regardless of my past." —adamsphylicia

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $11.28+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    14. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez follows one family for a hundred years, breaking down the barriers of linear time as it goes; with writing saturated in vivid imagery and magical realism.

    Harper Collins

    "I get so caught up in the magical realism, it’s easy to forget my own crisis." —briannad4e8410ff4

    Get it from Amazon for $13.26+, Barnes & Noble for $13.33+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    15. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King is a series of eight books with a little of everything to offer – elements of science fantasy, Western, horror, and dark fantasy.

    amazon.com

    "Throughout the stories, you are reminded that there are other worlds than these." —alexatb7

    Get it from Amazon for $71.92+, Barnes & Noble for $93.20, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    16. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia tells the story of one small leaf and just may help people of all ages cope with the fear of death.

    amazon.com

    "I was such an anxious child and used to be really afraid of what happened when you died, so my parents read me this book. I would read it myself when I got a little older. I still think of it now when death scares me." –Liz Boccolini, Facebook

    Get it from Amazon for $11.17, Barnes & Noble for $11.98, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    17. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a satirical coming-of-age story about a boy named Huck trying to fit in (and often times escape) Southern antebellum society.

    amazon.com

    "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the backbone of my adolescence and coming into my own. It grounded me like nothing else. It also happened to be the book that helped me come to terms with my gender identity."—charlierays

    Get it from Amazon for $5.10+, Barnes & Noble for $6+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    18. East of Eden is John Steinbeck's most ambitious novel that hones in on two families settling into the Salinas Valley in California – one of which is said to be based on the family of Steinbeck's grandfather.

    amazon.com

    "East of Eden by John Steinbeck got me through a really confusing time in my life. I had a lot of pressure on me to take my life in a certain direction, and this book gave me the courage to follow my own path and make my own fate. I got Timshel tattooed on my arm as a constant reminder." —ssphoenix94

    “Although it’s technically a biblical allegory, deriving meaning from it requires absolutely zero religious conviction of your own. It just reminds you, through beautiful writing, engaging plot, and fantastic character writing, that you have cosmic self choice, and I find that incredibly grounding and beautiful." —chloestarwater

    Get it from Amazon for $6.99+, Barnes & Noble for $12.66+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    19. The Trick Is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway shows what happens when one woman's struggle to appear "fine" falls apart – the lyrical novel uses different font sizes and words that sometimes flow off the page, depending on the state of the narrartor.

    Polygon

    "Janice Galloway's first novel spoke to my depression, suicidality, and descent into my bipolar disorder. The text is written so viscerally – the minute focus on certain objects and phrases, the flashbacks. They remind me of what it is like to actually suffer. Galloway represents mental illness in an accurate way, but also a literarily pleasing way. Both my academic mind and my oft-sick heart were pleased." –Bri Barcelo, Facebook

    Get it from Amazon for $3.66+, Barnes & Noble for $19.95, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    20. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver details the lives and struggles of a missionary family, told through the perspective of five different narrators.

    amazon.com

    "The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver has changed my way of thinking about my life at multiple times. In high school it helped me realize there is no 'one right way' to be a woman. In an abusive marriage it helped me see that I could love my abuser, and still survive beyond leaving. And now, it's a book that allows me to contemplate healthy relationships and spirituality. It's one of the best books I've ever, ever read." —jessicab45bac3e5e

    Get it from Amazon for $4.49+, Barnes & Noble for $10.49+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    21. The Humans by Matt Haig hilariously follows an alien at Cambridge University – disguised as a mathematics professor.

    amazon.com

    "The Humans by Matt Haig was a book I read right at the beginning of my journey to get help for my mental illness. It was the first time I was introduced to the fact that my individual existence is statistically impossible, but I exist regardless. Something about that grounded me at a time when I didn’t even feel like a person. Nothing’s helped out quite like an alien wearing a human suit to learn human nature did." —marjiearjie

    "It is my go-to book for my existential crises. The book is just incredible, and makes you think about every aspect of life." —jennyb4932b6416

    Get it from Amazon for $12.49+, Barnes & Noble for $10.19+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    22. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a children's book that'll strike a chord in your heart, and probably make you cry.

    Harper

    "At 40, it’s still my go-to book when I’m feeling down." —sherryf40a4949f0

    Get it from Amazon for $9.24+, Barnes & Noble for $9.24+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    23. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith focuses on the life of an impoverished, Irish-American teenage girl growing up in Brooklyn in 1912.

    amazon.com

    "I read it when I was in the middle of one of my (frequent) existential crises, and it articulates the nature of life so so well. It's poetic, emotional, and saturated with detail. Hands down my favorite book." –Juliana Tedeschi, Facebook ·

    "It was such a beautiful picture of a young girl growing up and finding herself. It answered some really difficult questions about love and loss." —benwyatt

    Get it from Amazon for $4.47+, Barnes & Noble for $10.28+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    24. The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen is an inspirational story about the impact of losing a limb on a runner's life.

    amazon.com

    "At the time of reading it I had just been told by a doctor that I couldn’t run track anymore because of an injury (I was in high school). The main character is a promising runner who ends up having a leg amputated. She doesn’t let that stop her from her dream of running again. Definitely helped me realize how lucky I was to have had an injury I had to power to recover from." —jeannam4c35ad64b

    Get it from Amazon for $7.99+, Barnes & Noble for $8.03+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    25. Overwhelmed by Perry Noble puts words to the chaos inside the mind, and just may help you win the war against worry.

    amazon.com

    "I randomly found it in a bookstore and the title just intrigued me. I’ve suggested this book to so many people. I read it every time I feel doubtful about myself, stressed out, or worried about my life. It’s just so sincere, and the author is relatable. I cried during my first read because it was like someone finally understood what I felt, and was able to communicate it with words in a way I couldn’t." —redrumprince

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $10.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    26. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman immerses you in the fantasy world of Lyra and other interesting characters that'll give you hope.

    barnesandnoble.com

    "Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) was so helpful for me when I was 'deconstructing' – AKA leaving a super-fundamentalist Christian denomination. Lyra is such an interesting, incredible character, as are many of the others. These books helped me to feel strong, and like life could still have meaning and purpose; whether God exists or not. They gave me hope!" —emilyannej2

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99+, Barnes & Noble for $19.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    27. The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder delves into the world of a girl trying to survive during the great depression, and the secret place she discovers that helps her cope.

    amazon.com

    "When I was eight, I was having a lot of issues with my family. The very kind librarian apparently picked up on my distress. She had me check out a book called The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, published in 1965. It's a great book: Robin is a bright and imaginative 11-year-old whose family is trying to survive during The Great Depression as migrant workers. On the estate where her family picks fruit, she finds a place in the old abandoned mansion she can escape to, and there's a mystery to unravel when she finds a diary in the library. There's some big lessons in the book on finding your own place to 'fit in' in the world and not hide yourself, even when you have a lot of challenges." —rhdtmp0705

    Get it from Amazon for $3.77+, Barnes & Noble for $6.49, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    28. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is a picture book that'll give you the tears – it's about the relationship between a boy and his mother, written after Munsch and his wife had two stillborn babies.

    amazon.com

    "I'd just had a miscarriage and found out that the author and his wife had suffered multiple miscarriages; and this book was written about them. It really helped me pull through. It was a really dark time and I was suicidal. This book was part of what helped pull me through." —k46c4ca680

    Get it from Amazon for $3.14+, Barnes & Noble for $4.49+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    29. Women by Chloe Caldwell tells the story of two women who fall in love, and will make you reflect on your own identity crisis/heartbreak.

    barnesandnoble.com

    "Women by Chloe Caldwell introduced me to an amazing writer, and helped me come into being LGBTQ." —ra4man

    Get it from Amazon for $14.93, Barnes & Noble for $7.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    30. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a heart-warming novella about a sad little prince who is all alone in the universe, until he goes and visits earth.

    barnesandnoble.com

    "Toward the end of college, and at the definitive end of a four year–long psychologically abusive relationship, I was working at a local bookstore. One day the employees were discussing favorite childhood books. Multiple people mentioned The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It’s a short little book, and I needed a pick-me-up, so I bought it that day. I read it in about two hours. I spent the next two hours sobbing quietly into my pillow. Then I read it two more times, cried a LOT more, and realized that I’d been going about this whole life and love thing in all the wrong ways. I won’t go into the specifics of my personal paradigm shift, because I think it’s the kind of book that has a different truth for everyone who reads it. The gentle gist is this: The world is a crazy place. If you’re having trouble wading through it, maybe it’s because you’ve been trained to pay attention to all the wrong things. Two years after I first read The Little Prince, a passage was read at my wedding. I literally married my best friend. The book won’t get you hitched. For me, that was a lovely side effect. It just reminded me that 'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.'" —melle

    "This is such a feel-good book. It is written like a children’s book, but it has so much depth. Everyone should read this." —danielac4d41f6d23

    Get it from Amazon for $4.49+, Barnes & Noble for $6.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    You after getting your hands on some quality books.

    TriStar Pictures

    Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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