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41 Books That Give People Strength

Yesterday there was a giveaway on Twitter where my publishers asked everyone to answer this question:

What books give you strength?

It was great fun to watch the responses pour in, and yes, the nerd in me was thrilled to see that the good old dictionary made it onto the list, although this was a joke about physical strength.  The Joy of Cooking also made it into the “It’s so heavy” category, but I know plenty of people who love and use The Joy of Cooking as much as I’ve loved any book.

I may have missed a couple, but here’s the compilation.  I think The Bible and Paulo Coehlo came out ahead. Please to the list in the comments, and/or check out the responses below.

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Love in the time of Cholera by Garcia Marquez

The Bible

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer et al

What Is The What? by Dave Eggers

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill

Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coehlo

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

The Dictionary

Just One More Day by Mitch Albom

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Empire Of The Sun by JG Ballard

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss


Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

How To Get Out Of Your Own Way by Tyrese Gibson

The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by Pico Iyer

Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mercurious April 10, 2013, 4:07 pm

    About one-third of these would be on my list, too. A few others:

    • The Book Thief
    • Look Homeward, Angel
    • A Farewell to Arms
    • All Over But the Shouting
    • The Cloud of Unknowing
    • The Perennial Philosophy
    • Absolom, Absolom

  • Lynn Kauppi April 11, 2013, 9:21 pm

    Somewhat bizarrely, because I’m male, Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women has always given me strength.
    Also Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
    Finally, as I rapidly push towards senior-citizen hood, the concluding section of Beowulf.

  • Ara Bedrossian April 17, 2013, 4:18 am

    No ‘Siddhartha’ by Hesse or ‘Anthem’ by Rand?
    Those are a couple of mine.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 17, 2013, 9:37 am

      I was surprised that nobody had Siddhartha, but you fixed the problem.

  • Brian Allan May 21, 2013, 5:59 am

    Interesting that we find so much strength in other’s accounts of struggles against adversity.

    Also a relief to see an absence of “Self Help” tomes

  • kmcorby June 10, 2013, 1:11 pm

    I can’t think of a book, but for me it’s a TV show. STAR TREK. Gives me hope for a better world.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 10, 2013, 2:07 pm

      Did you see the latest movie?

      • kmcorby June 11, 2013, 1:05 pm

        Oh, yes, I thought it was wretched. Just really, really bad. But that doesn’t matter. I have TOS and TNG on DVD and can watch them whenever I want.