How Can Literature Provide Support During Tough Times?


    How Can Literature Provide Support During Tough Times?

    In our latest collection of heartfelt narratives, we've gathered six personal experiences from professionals including therapists and educators, revealing how literature has been a beacon during their darkest hours. From a therapist finding guidance in books to draw strength for recovery to a founder gleaning financial insights from 'The Richest Man in Babylon,' these stories underscore the transformative power of the written word.

    • Books Guided Therapist's Recovery
    • Literature's Cathartic Power
    • Siddhartha's Lessons During Bereavement
    • Harry Potter Inspires During Health Crisis
    • Steinbeck's 'The Pearl' Offers Perspective
    • Financial Insights from 'The Richest Man'

    Books Guided Therapist's Recovery

    It's easy to forget that as therapists, we are also human and have experienced and made less-than-ideal decisions throughout life's journey. In my younger college days, prior to gaining clarity about becoming a counselor, I struggled with an eating disorder. I came across two books: 'Life Without Ed' and 'Beauty Disrupted.' While I had never truly understood what was going on with me and why, these books helped me recognize that I could relate and that there was a way out of difficult times. They helped me realize that I had to learn to accept—radically accept—and gave me motivation to push through the challenges and difficult emotions. They taught me that recovery was possible, and that I had a choice. But more importantly, they helped me realize that my experience was not an isolated event—it was one of common humanity. In that moment, I knew I wanted to help others gain that insight and empower them to build a life worth living—whatever that looks like to them. So remember, you are not alone—ask for help, reach out to loved ones, do something different—it's not easy, and it won't look perfect, but things can get better.

    Francisca Ortiz, Lmhc
    Francisca Ortiz, LmhcLicensed Therapist, Nourish Within Counseling

    Literature's Cathartic Power

    It's all about the catharsis. When the reader can see himself or herself in the character, and push through, just like the character in the text, then the literature we read has served its purpose. If we read something and become better human beings, it was all worth it. Happy trails!

    Félix MedinaSpanish Language & Literature teacher

    Siddhartha's Lessons During Bereavement

    When my father died, I was 19 years old. I was studying in Belgium, and my father died in my native Nicaragua. I had to take a train to go to Madrid, and I was reading 'Siddhartha' by Hermann Hesse. My heart was heavy with the devastating news, but as I avidly read the teachings of Siddhartha, I learned that experience is the source of knowledge, that every act of will and every failure is a step on your way to self-realization, and that suffering and pain are necessary to attain a higher stage in life. This was not the first time that a book by Hermann Hesse had helped me, but this was probably the most important lesson.

    Nicasio UrbinaProfessor of Spanish American literature, University of Cincinnati

    Harry Potter Inspires During Health Crisis

    J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series was my anchor through a health crisis. The magical world provided a sanctuary, letting me believe in resilience. As Harry faced challenges, I found courage. The narrative wove a tapestry of hope, illustrating the power of friendship and determination. Hogwarts was my sanctuary, a reminder that even in darkness, light can prevail. Those books became more than an escape; they became a testament to the transformative power of imagination and the strength that lies within us, waiting to be discovered.

    Irina Tracy
    Irina TracyChief Editor, Love Advice

    Steinbeck's 'The Pearl' Offers Perspective

    With its key themes of perseverance, greed, and family, 'The Pearl' by John Steinbeck was truly helpful. The way Steinbeck subtly, though quickly, identified, via Kino, our fallibility was very powerful and effective. Forgiveness, understanding, tolerance, and knowledge were easier to strive toward after contemplating the nuances of Steinbeck's masterful novella—but I have had to reread it every few years. During tough times, when vague or real problems weigh down, it's easier to find a through line when matters are intellectualized in novel form. Steinbeck often explored themes of fate and injustice via the burdened everyman, which was highlighted for me most attractively in this small but mighty tale of Kino, the pearl diver who is primed to take on avarice, worry, and meaning.

    Luke Shipman
    Luke ShipmanDirector and Founder, The London Ghostwriting Company

    Financial Insights from 'The Richest Man'

    There was a time during my journey toward financial freedom when the challenges seemed overwhelming. I found solace and inspiration in the book 'The Richest Man in Babylon' by George S. Clason. This classic, filled with timeless financial principles presented through parables, resonated with me deeply.

    The book's stories about managing money, saving, and making wise investments provided practical insights that I could apply to my own situation. It helped me shift my mindset about wealth and reinforced the importance of disciplined financial habits. The lessons from 'The Richest Man in Babylon' became a guiding light during some of the tougher moments, reminding me that with patience, strategic planning, and consistent effort, financial success is achievable.

    Brian Meiggs
    Brian MeiggsFounder, My Millennial Guide