6 Books to Read When You're Feeling Lost


As anyone who is in their twenties can tell you, it's a weird, confusing, unsettling time. Sure, it's great too, but with many people having just graduated college or else trying to find jobs and figure out what the heck they're doing with their lives, it's easy to feel a bit lost. And as Hermione Granger always says, "When in doubt, go to the library." So what better to do when feeling a bit lost than turn to a good book?

Here are a few suggestions of books that have helped me when I'm feeling confused about life (spoiler alert: that's all the time).

1. Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This book has been a massive bestseller since the 90s and has been a staple of modern feminist and spiritual (I shudder to use that word but I don't know how else to put it) texts since. It is, as my grandma would say, a bit hippy-dippy, but if you're into that kind of thing, there are some really beautiful revelations in it.

Simply put, it's all about how every woman has a bit of wild in her, stories and songs and folk tales passed down through cultures and generations, all there inside her. It just takes what the author calls "psychic archeological digs" to tap into that primal knowledge and to learn more about your place in life. Okay, very hippy-dippy. But it's a lot better than it sounds, I promise.

Favorite quote:

"It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires."

2. Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Is there a self-professed creative type alive who hasn't read this book yet? Well, regardless, you should read it, or read it again, or give it to a friend, or something. This book, by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, is so incredible, and all about finding and using your creativity to really achieve your goals and aspirations in life.

She talks about what to do when you feel lost and completely un-creative, as well as sharing insightful ideas, tips, and anecdotes from her own life. There's a lot about overcoming fears and learning to find the inspiration and talent within yourself as well. Even if you don't think you're a "creative type" you should read this book - it may help spark something, and you never know what you might discover about yourself.

Favorite quote:

"Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart."

3. Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham

Listen I.....really hate Lena Dunham. But I read her book during one of the worst years of my life in college, and parts of it really, really helped me. I don't like her as a person whatsoever, but damn if she isn't a good writer. Her essays about college life and depression stuck with me, and I've been thinking about the below quote about her time in college a lot lately.

Favorite quote:

"If I had known how much I would miss these sensations I might have experienced them differently, recognized their shabby glamour, respected the ticking clock that defined this entire experience. I would have put aside my resentment, dropped my defenses. I might have a basic understanding of European history or economics. More abstractly, I might feel I had truly been somewhere, open and porous and hungry to learn."

4. Yes Please, Amy Poehler

I will preface this by saying, feel free to replace this with a different book by one of your favorite role models. I personally love this book and love Amy Poehler, and I think this has a lot of great advice for people just starting out (and people who have been around a while too). Turns out, even famous, hilarious, glamorous people don't know what they're doing half the time.

Other worthy mentions in this category: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, anything by David Sedaris, anything by Carrie Fisher

Favorite quote:

"Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that's what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that's really special and if you're not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself."

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Okay, I'm sorry, this just wouldn't be a book recommendation list written by me if it didn't include Perks of Being a Wallflower. I realize that I talk about this book all the time, but I'm not sorry. It was another book that I read during an incredibly rocky and formative time in my adolescence, and it has stayed with me and saved me in so many ways.

Brief tangent: I read this book for the first time when I was 16, and nearly three years later, I used the last $10 in my bank account to buy a beat-up copy of my own at the school bookstore my first month of college. I was feeling so lost and confused and a little helpless and I knew it would help me. This book made me some amazing friends in college, helped me start wonderful traditions of Rocky Horror every October and Secret Santa every Christmas. I've probably read it half a dozen times since then, and I always find whatever I need in its pages.

So don't be fooled by the fact that it's about teenagers – it definitely has wisdom that transcends time and age.

Favorite quote:

"I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We'll all become somebody's mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive."

6. A book you loved as a child

Okay, this isn't a technical suggestion insofar as I'm telling you what to read, but hear me out – you can learn so much about yourself and about your place in life by re-reading a book you loved when you were younger. Read something that helped you define who you were the first time around and find all the familiar pieces of yourself there. Maybe learn a few new things about yourself this time around. For me, it's Harry Potter. (For me, it's always Harry Potter, let's be real).

Since I can only speak from my own experience, here are a few more options to choose from: