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21 Books That Bring Readers Comfort And Hope

As recommended by the BuzzFeed Community.

Posted on October 24, 2020, at 10:46 p.m. ET

Last week, as part of Hopes Week, we asked the BuzzFeed Community about books they're reading to stay hopeful this year. Here are some of the most powerful, thought-provoking, or comforting recommended reads.

1. The Humans by Matt Haig, a novel about an alien who visits Earth in the form of a Cambridge University professor — and though initially disgusted by everything about humanity, he slowly warms up to them.

Simon & Schuster

It's a strange and heartfelt story about aliens and math and peanut butter sandwiches. Being a human is hard these days, but this book always reminds me of all the beautiful parts of being a person. —jessw427ac19b2

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

2. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, a personal and psychological exploration by a Holocaust survivor who argues that humanity's driving pursuit isn't for pleasure but rather for meaning.

Beacon Press

This is the ultimate book of hope. Frankl was a psychiatrist, neurologist, and Holocaust survivor, and in the book he recounts his experiences of surviving the concentration camps. It’s about how he — and others — managed to live in a situation where hope was being deliberately stamped out by those in control. It’s beautiful, insightful, tragic, extremely humbling, and it definitely leaves you hopeful. —caitlinm50

Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who lost his wife and children while imprisoned in a concentration camp. This book is a memoir of his experience and how he found freedom within himself despite the horrific circumstances. He writes, "the last of man's freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." —kabauer

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

3. May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes, a novel about Harry, a man who's always been jealous of his very impressive younger brother, George — but when George's violent temper gets him into trouble, Harry has to step in to raise his two children.

Penguin Random House

This uplifting read is a story that seems to start fairly normally and then suddenly goes a bit nuts — a story about how life can open up (in a good way) via a massive life-changing shit show. —caitlinm50

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

4. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, an urban fantasy about New York's five avatars — one for each borough — joining forces to defend the city from an evil being bent on destroying it.

Orbit

"An inclusive urban fantasy that's ultimately about identity and belonging — I couldn't put it down." —amandaleigha2

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

5. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, a self-help classic about allowing self-acceptance, letting go of defeatist thoughts, and fostering a better connection to the world.

Hazelden Publishing

It’s the best place to start if you want to understand shame and feel better about life. It’s very freeing. —caitlinm50

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

6. The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban, a magical story about a pair of wind-up toys who are thrown out and separated, and then must find their way back home.

Gardner Books

It's an old, old book but it has the best story, with proof of diligence and faith in the end. If something can go wrong, it does, but these characters face it and power through. We should do this also. It helped me through the death of my husband when my kids were two. —marisar8

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

7. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, a poignant novel about a Ghanaian American woman who turns to her childhood faith in an effort to deal with the death of her brother.

Knopf

This book literally restored my faith in god. —lepaniagua91

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

8. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, a dual-timeline YA novel about twins who were once inseparable, but end up barely speaking.

Dial Books

It’s such an amazing YA novel that made me cry while and immediately after reading it. It centers around a set of inseparable twins that slowly drift apart until they barely speak years later. It’s such an amazing and heartwarming LGBTQ story that touches on family, friendship, and identity, with enough romance to satisfy the hopeless romantic in me. Here’s a quote that I just absolutely loved: “Quick, make a wish. Take a (second or third or fourth) chance. Remake the world.” —idiot1012

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

9. The Moon by Night by Madeleine L'Engle, a YA classic about a 14-year-old girl trying to make sense of her rapidly changing life, while on a wild cross-country trip with her family as they move their lives to New York.

Square Fish

Was this book published sixty years ago? Yes. Does it still ring painfully true? Yes. The protagonist, Vicky, falls in with a toxic, manipulative, and troubled boy who reveals to her how awful the world actually is and affects her in many other ways. This book, the second in the Austin trilogy, hits really hard for me. Despite being so old, the emotions behind the old language and situations are very true and real, and portrayed as such. It makes me really happy. —ghostqueen990

Get it from Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

10. The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson, a memoir of compassion and insight learned over the course of the author's 20-year career as a nurse.

Tim Duggan Books

The Language of Kindness is one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, and uplifting books I have ever read. It’s a memoir about the author’s life as a nurse; it brims with humanity, warmth, kindness, as well as haunting despair and suffering. However, the underlying message is that in the end — even in the midst of the most crippling suffering — there is always hope. Something to hold onto as the walls crumble: our humanity and vulnerability unite us all. It’s such a gorgeous book. —cupcakesprinkles

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

11. Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree, a memoir about a nearly bankrupt couple's decision to restore their struggling 3500-acre farm to a wild state.

Picador

It's about an estate that went from intensive agriculture to a wildlife park in the UK. We humans have destroyed much of the world and it is easy to lose hope. This book helps to show how perseverance and cooperation in wildlife conservation can be applied in the real world, and that we can help to preserve the earth and its biodiversity. It's also very informative; I would recommend to any nature lover. —stylishpenguin64

Get it from Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

12. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, a surreal story about a young couple who discover magical doors that can whisk them away from the civil war that's brought violence to their city.

Riverhead

A beautiful meditation on love and relationships, set in a chaotic world where magical realism turns the idea of "the way things are" on its head. —amandaleigha2

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

13. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, a best-selling novel told from the perspective of a dog over the course of his reincarnations.

Forge

Don't judge it by the movie!!! My brother has high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, and his main fixation has always been dogs. He recommended this to me, and there isn't a better book we could bond over! It's rare to find a book that will speak to people of different neurodiversities, and I love having this connection with my brother. It reminds me to appreciate the seemingly little things and takes me out of my head into the space of a dog who lives life completely based on love. I'm re-reading it now. (Oh, and this isn't just a book for "dog people.") —dobbyandkreacher

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

14. The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch, a forthcoming YA novel about a gay teen in a small town whose epic promposal plan is threatened by an anonymous anti-gay troll.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

I recently started reading The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch. It's a YA book of fiction that's centered around an out gay teen in high school, and I think that's why it makes me feel kinda warm inside. Like, I certainly never knew of any YA books with out characters in them when I was younger, but this is such a modern telling of life in high school, and I think today's teens will really be able to see themselves reflected in the characters and story. I don't know how to explain it, but there's something refreshing about this cute, quirky, and fun read that'll make other people feel seen and heard. —spenceralthouse

Pre-order it from Bookshop, Target, or from a local independent bookstore.

15. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, a fantastical story about a 12-year-old boy who turns to books for comfort while mourning the death of his mother — but soon reality and fantasy begin to blur.

Washington Square Press

The Book of Lost Things is one of the most magical books I’ve read in years. A boy struggling with the death of his mother (not to mention WWII) gets stuck in sinister fairytale woods. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to hunker down under the blankets and get lost in a mysterious world that they won’t be able to leave until the very last page. It is a little spooky at times, but will leave you feeling all warm inside by the end. Truly the perfect escape. —chelshu

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

16. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, a rom-com about the President's son falling in love with a British prince.

St. Martin's Griffin

It's about the first son of the United States falling in love with the prince of England! Is it slightly unrealistic? Yes. Does it make me laugh and forget about how much I hate 2020? YES. It's hilarious, and full of happy endings. AND it's got LGBTQ+ representation!!!! —maskeddog88

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

17. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, the end-of-life memoir of a 36-year-old neurosurgeon diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, trying to figure out what gives a life meaning.

Random House

A beautiful memoir about finding and creating meaning when things just don't have a happy ending. —amandaleigha2

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

18. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, the wildly popular post-apocalyptic novel about rebuilding the world.

Vintage

Station Eleven gave me great hope that humans could be resilient in the face of a pandemic. (Timely, no?) —mlakey09

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

19. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a reverend writing a letter to his young son as he nears the end of his life.

Picador

I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. It’s a book that holds so many keen observations about finding the beauty and worth in the tiniest things. It’s made me think a lot about gratitude and taking in the present with steadiness and hope despite adversity. I love this line in particular: “The moon looks wonderful in this warm evening light, just as a candle flame looks beautiful in the light of morning. Light within light. It seems like a metaphor for something. So much does." —Jillian Karande

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

20. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, the memoir of "the world's most beloved veterinarian," full of stories of compassion, hardship, joy, and love.

St. Martin's Griffin

Any book by James Herriot, including All Creatures Great and Small, fills me with warm fuzzies about this veterinarian and his love for all animals. —mlakey09

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

21. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, the National Book Award-winning novel about a woman mourning her friend's suicide while taking care of his beloved dog.

Riverhead

I just finished The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. It was a beautiful story of friendship and connection and the power of writing. And now I totally want a Great Dane for a pet. —alliebangerter

Get it from Bookshop, Target, or find it at a local independent bookstore.

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