Books that teach life lessons live in every genre and literary category. They allow readers to try on new lives and experience different perspectives. Stories, essays, and poetry offer an ideal medium to learn or expand on life lessons that can change the way we think, what we do, and maybe even alter our lives for the better.
Self-help and psychology books are straight-forward “how-to” guides for valuable life lessons and skills. However, this isn’t the only genre where important learning can happen. Poetry, fiction, memoirs, biographies, and even children’s books can impart critical insight and offer compelling points of view. Inspiration is limitless. We may identify with an intriguing character or learn a new piece of information that deepens our understanding of the world around us.
These seven books skillfully impart new wisdom or reinforce ideals we hold dear.
This classic teaches us how to move through the world motivated by love instead of fear. It explores how traditional notions of love and society’s preoccupation with romantic love over all other relationships lead to feelings of isolation and failure. Compassion is important in all aspects of our lives, from family and our communities to our relationships with ourselves.
This insightful read uses research to investigate vulnerability, shame, and finding the courage to live life with your whole heart. It’s arranged in 10 sections meant to help readers move away from the pressures of perfectionism to learning to live fully as themselves. Each chapter feels like a revelation that is specifically designed to change your life.
Klune’s gentle fantasy highlights the importance of connection and finding family and friends who support your true self. It follows Linus Baker, a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s known as an ardent rule-follower, never stepping outside the regulatory boundaries of his job when determining the best homes for children with magical abilities. In his biggest job yet, he’s sent to report on an orphanage housing six of the most dangerous magical children. But for the first time, it’s hard for him to maintain the professional distance he’s known for, which happens to be the reason he’s been chosen for this unusual assignment.
Walker may be best known for her novel, The Color Purple, but her poetry is beautiful, easy to read, and full of powerful messages of hope and survival. With topics ranging from the need to preserve the Earth to the urgent fight for equality between people of all races and genders to reflections of motherhood, aging, and romantic love, Walker explores big topics with simplicity and power in this stunning poetry collection.
This practical guide features useful advice on how to start writing by breaking down the daunting task of storytelling into small steps that don’t feel so overwhelming. However, the lessons in this book can be applied to so much more than writing. Many goals in life feel too big or scary to start working toward and many of us dream of overnight success. Lamott offers a more realistic and attainable alternative, advocating for slow and steady progress and hard work as a recipe for both writing and life.
This moving memoir offers lessons in learning how to accept the complicated truth about your parents and make peace with your childhood. Ford commits to telling the truth about her family and life growing up, which means attempting to understand the complexity and nuance of the people she loved, the people who hurt her, and those who fall into both categories. Through the incarceration of her father, a fraught relationship with her mother, and a childhood full of longing for love that leads to harmful relationships, Ford discovers who she is and what she wants out of life.
This book about resisting the forces of capitalism, technology, and modern society that insist we must always be busy makes the case for the importance of rest. Odell touches on what we shouldn’t be doing, such as endless doom-scrolling and too much time on social media, while offering a manifesto on what we gain by refocusing our attention: stronger relationships, self-reflection, and connection to our environment.
About the Author: Alison Doherty
Alison is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on her way to work, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.