Sometimes we all need to set aside some time for self-reflection. I mean, who isn’t feeling a little lost and upside down after this past year? We’re all on our own journey, and sometimes a good read can help. These books for soul-searching are mix of styles, because we all reflect differently.
Some of the titles in this list are more humorous and practical in style, whereas others focus on a more mystical approach. But each of these books delivers valuable life lessons in an engaging way, with most including practical exercises that you can apply to your life on a daily basis.
Here are 12 of our favorite books for soul-searching
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
This is a novel that will crack your heart wide open. Ocean Vuong has a dreamlike manner of storytelling that makes even the most painful of scenarios feel hopeful. For anyone on an unknown path or struggling with their place in this world, it’s a must-read.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
This beloved classic by one of the leading figures in American literature is a timeless book about soul-searching. Walden is a self-help book, perhaps the ultimate self-help book, urging us to show up for our own lives, to have the courage to find our own convictions and to try to live them out.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
This deeply layered novel covers everything from depression and addiction to religion and faith. As you follow Gifty’s journey with her family through life’s up and downs, you might see familiar themes in your own life on your own journey.
A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt
This book of essays explores the complex, broken world of the author and results in a dynamic meditation on love, gender, art and joy. It’s a quick read, but this tiny book packs a punch.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
When you’re on a soul-searching journey, it’s often the memoirs that stick with you the most. This one by Michelle Zauner is a coming-of-age story tied together in the tangled threads of a complex mother-and-daughter relationship. Crying in H Mart covers all of the emotions and senses of searching for your place in this world.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I’m still pretending like I didn’t see Taylor’s IG post the other day that she doesn’t like Jack Kerouac because On the Road is a must-read. Kerouac tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naiveté and wild ambition, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom.
My Friend Fear by Meera Lee Patel
If you’re looking for a more visually inspiring read, keep this book on your bedside table at all times. Meera Lee Patel beautiful illustrates and outlines short, inspirational literary snacks for even the hungriest soul-searcher.
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea is another timeless classic everyone should read throughout their journey. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the constant chaos and change of modern life, take a step back and read this book. It’s a guidebook for anyone longing for a simple life and a quiet world.
You’ll Come Back To Yourself: Poems by Michaela Angemeer
Is your journey currently a solo one? For those who are single or dealing with heartbreak, these poems will feel like honey to your soul.
The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson
Sometimes your soul-searching journey takes you all the way back to the beginning, to when everything was a seed. This novel beautifully weaves together the stories of four unforgettable women, their journey to reawakening and how everything leads back to the beginning.
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
“When a problem is disturbing you, don’t ask, “What should I do about it?” Ask, “What part of me is being disturbed by this?”
The Untethered Soul offers insights for developing an awareness of negative, limiting thoughts and energy, for realizing that we don’t have to absorb or cling to them. We can let them go; they are not who we are. Keep this book on hand and it will have different meanings for you each time you read and depending on where you are in your life.
You Are The Universe by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
Do you like your soul-searching to be a bit more scientific? You Are The Universe weaves Dr. Chopra’s expertise regarding biological systems with Professor Kafatos’s work in quantum physics, geophysics and cosmology. The result is no clash of competing perspectives, but a rich, synergistic tapestry of great wisdom, beauty and comfort for our culture.