32 Books That Have Helped People Feel Less Alone
You: "Why did it take me so long to read these??"
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1. Adulthood is a Myth takes snapshots of adulthood-related anxieties and awkwardness and turns them into derpy, lovable cartoons that'll make you laugh for days on end.
2. Chemistry details the struggles of a young female scientist who has to recalibrate her life in the face of unquantifiable pressure from her demanding Chinese parents, failed academic research, and a devoted but more successful boyfriend in order to answer the age-old question we all have: "What do I ~really~ want in life?"
3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings instills something black women already know but sometimes have a hard time believing because of societal underpinnings: that they are worthy, beautiful, and powerful human beings that won't let anything stand in their way.
4. The Bell Jar breaks down the inner workings of the psyche so masterfully that it'll seem as if Sylvia Plath is actually inside your head.
5. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a poignant look at one introvert's path towards self-acceptance in a world that glorifies being (or just acting) "cool" and how being awkward makes her a badass in her own right — it's as vulnerable as it is laugh-out-loud funny.
6. Never Have I Ever is a refreshingly honest take on ~looking for love~, the intricacies of Facebook messaging, and ill-fated crushes that drives home the fact that being date-less, fling-less, and boyfriend-less doesn't make you any less complete (GOT IT??).
7. Scrappy Little Nobody underlines a fact we all already knew: Anna Kendrick would be a fantastic BFF who would make us laugh nonstop with her unbelievably charming and relatable wit.
8. English, August proves that everyone, even those with all the "right ingredients" for a "good life," aren't spared from feelings of extreme indecision and "What TF do I do now??"
9. Depression And Other Magic Tricks is filled with lovely poetry that lets you know you have a friend who just ~gets it~, even on the shittiest days when you think no one else could possibly be in such a deep funk.
10. The Mysterious Benedict Society emphasizes that it's totally ok to have different interests (and strengths!) than your peers and to CELEBRATE the fact that you *leans closer* genuinely enjoy school.
11. Through a collection of intensely sympathetic poems (which were responses to advice-seeking letters sent to the author), Letters to a Young Poet gets you through unimaginably tough life events and stresses the important of giving yourself enough room to process, breathe, and heal.
12. Some Assembly Required is a mind-opening look into the everyday struggles that transgender folks face with bravery and authenticity — and it serves as a reminder that the path towards self-acceptance is ongoing but extremely fulfilling.
13. Fangirl taps you on your shoulder as a reminder that being in love with fictional worlds and characters is 100% wonderful and valid and does *not* make you too weird or zany.
14. It's Kind of a Funny Story is like a warm hug for severely depressed people who might question the effectiveness of seeking help: it illustrates that if you choose to get help — whether that takes place in a psychiatric hospital or anywhere else — you'll find plenty of co-conspirators who have gone through what you have and are still some of the most lovable and wonderful humans you've ever met.
15. I Don't Want To Be Crazy captures the cyclical nature of living with a psychological disorder in an extremely visceral way guided by free verse: scattered, intense, and unashamedly honest.
16. Furiously Happy reaches a hand out to you when you feel lonely, discouraged, and like you constantly have to justify how you feel, instead of being accepted for who you are at ~all times~ and learning how to deal with life at all points of the emotional spectrum.
17. Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto flips the ever-popular script of portraying loners as weirdos and pity cases, distinguishes aloneness from loneliness, and reminds its audience that aloneness is sometimes, in fact, entirely one's preference.
18. Every Harry Potter book carves out a special place in your heart, but the introduction of Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is especially eye-opening for anyone who struggles with balancing mental illness, personal relationships, and a professional life (amid lots and lots of self-doubt).
19. I Don’t Care About Your Band chronicles every terrible case of douchebaggery in hilarious detail so you remember that everyone — and I mean everyone — has been fooled into falling for the wrong person, and that we're stronger because of it!
20. Though Note To Self covers one individual's deeply personal journey, his struggles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and developing real connections in a world that places too much value on shares and likes are direct reflections of many peoples' thoughts.
21. Even if you never planning on doing a solo hike up the Pacific Coast Trail, Wild helps you work past previous "failings" so you can have new (and better!) adventures.
22. Thirteen Reasons Why is a hauntingly beautiful and complex story about suicide and school life that's been a repeat read for teens for years before the hit Netflix show premiered.
23. Chasing Slow grapples with materialism and society's obsession with always chasing after being a better, more successful, and richer version of yourself — and that even when you're at your "highest" point, you can still feel just as lost and unfulfilled.
24. Prep deals with the all-too-familiar experience of feeling like an outsider and cultivating an identity that allows you to peacefully coexist while still being true to yourself.
25. Matilda is a children's classic but resonates with ~anyone~ who'd rather be buried in a great book than...just about anything else.
26. Turtles All The Way Down breaks your heart in a way only John Green is capable of: through a deep, authentic, tear-jerking, and oftentimes lighthearted dive into the complexities of OCD and extreme anxiety.
27. You don't need to hop around the world to find yourself, but Eat Pray Love drives home the fact that it's ok to feel confused, stuck, and unfulfilled, even if life ~appears~ to be fine.
28. Even if you have a great support system at home, The Last Samurai explores going out into the world and finding ~your people~, biology and tangential connections be damned.
29. Catcher in the Rye isn't a classic for no reason: anyone who is or has been a teenager can relate to feeling disillusioned when their visions and expectations of the real world are shattered and toyed with.
30. Hyperbole and a Half doesn't romanticize depression like popular culture might and — even in cartoon form — depicts it fully and truthfully, which oftentimes means feeling nothing at all.
31. Les Misérables puts your own struggles into perspective and lends hope that those dealing with problems far beyond your imagination can still find reasons to keep fighting.
32. On the Edge of Gone represents autism in its full light and capacity, aka what should be the norm.
By the way: Books are a great way for a lot of people to feel less alone, but they're not a substitute for professional treatment. Here's a beginner's guide to starting therapy, just in case. Or if you need to talk to someone immediately, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and the Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found here.
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The submissions used in this post have been edited for length and clarity.