Focus for this List:
I can't stop a nuclear meltdown, hold back the waves, or stop the earth from shaking. I can't cure death, heal broken promises, or restore lost innocence. What I can do is list books that help when the disaster comes. Because disasters always come.
1. Viktor Frankl: Man's Search for Meaning
What does a holocaust survivor know about the reasons to live? Lots and lots. I reviewed this book in this post. It's one of those books that everyone should read.
2. Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet
Poetry that speaks truth about life. My mother gave it to me when I turned 16 and I still reread it and find new truths that I wasn't able to understand earlier.
3. Laurence Gonzales: Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
This is a more practical guide, in some ways, but it's also a work of philosophy. His rules for survival are useful, in a disaster in the woods, in a classroom, and in a home. That, and the way he tells a story is just riveting!
4. Simon Wiesenthal: The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgivness
Speaking of disasters, what about when someone has "done you wrong?" Do you forgive them? At what point? After what proof that they've changed? Yeah, I thought some of those questions might sound familiar. This book tells a fairly simple, but thought-provoking story. Then it asks a simple question. The rest of the book is composed of answers to that question, by 53 different people. Who are these people? Some names you'll recognize, others will be new, but they truly have 53 different answers to the question. By the end of the book, you may have some answers too.
5. Rabbi Earl Grollman: Living When a Loved One Has Died
This book was the only one that spoke to me when Rivka died. I've since, sadly, had occasion to give it to others who've also suffered losses. It helped, when nothing else did. One small note: it may seem silly, but those of us who've been there know how your concentration is affected. The author knows this too, and writes in very short sentences. At a time in my life when I couldn't even read for comfort, this helped.
Note: it's a short list today, but the weight of each book should make up for that.