8 Books to Read When You are Feeling Low

Diwali 2019 is well and truly done now. Post festive blues are bound to set in. In a world where even the tiniest thing we do winds its way online that creates an online image, comparing ourselves to other people’s lives on social media platforms becomes second nature to all of us. Studies have shown a correlation between anxiety, self esteem, and social media.

As a whole, mental health issues are not very often talked about in India. Depression is often simply shrugged off as a mood and not recognized as a prolonged state of mind that needs to be addressed. There are many ways in which anxiety and issues associated with depression can manifest themselves. Anxieties over festivities or self image issues due to long social media exposure are only two examples.

Seeking help should not be considered a taboo or looked down upon. One more way to feel better is to engage yourself in reading relevant books; books that can motivate you and help you tackle your situation. The Seer presents a list of eight such meaningful books that can help you get through the worst of times.

The Hen who Dreamed She could Fly by Sun Mi-Hang

That’s all there is to it. We look different, so we don’t understand each other’s inner thoughts, but we cherish each other in our own way. I respect you.

This short South Korean novella possesses a beautiful fable like quality and narrates the gutsy story of a hen, Sprout, who refuses to do what she is forced to do – lay eggs for humans – and dares to set her own path. For once, she wants to be able to hatch the egg and not let it be snatched away. She decides to break free from her coop and face the world which is full of uncertainty. The novella cum fable deals with several relevant abstract issues of our times with the utmost simplicity. One important theme of the story is the need to be comfortable with your own identity and not try to fit in constantly with the majority. This is an important lesson in our world of idealized social media presence that we may or may not live up to. Read the first 20 pages of the book here. You can also read a short interview of the author here.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.

This bestseller memoir proffers heartwarming life lessons through a true narrative of Mitch’s own interactions with his college professor Morrie Schwartz, who is now suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mitch gets a second chance to meet his professor who shares with him words of advice and thought provoking wisdom. Read excerpts here or listen to audio samples here.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

In 1903, when a 19 year old military cadet, Frank Kappus, asked Rilke for advice on his poems, it created a correspondence between the two, resulting in ten letters being written by Rilke where he gives honest advice on creativity and work of arts. This is a great series to read if you are facing a mental block or harboring any doubts toward your creative work. This series has some of the best advice on being creative and a range of other topics such as loneliness, love, and the role of criticism in art. You can read more about the book here. Also, you can find all the 10 letters online here.

What Makes you Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Most of the time we are trying to make the good things last, or we are thinking about replacing them with something even better in the future, or we are sunk in the past, reminiscing about happier times. Ironically, we never truly appreciated the experience for which we are nostalgic because we were too busy clinging to our hopes and fears at the time.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse is a well known Buddhist practitioner from Bhutan who has devoted his life to making Buddhism more suited to today’s modern world. He always has refreshing and new takes on how to follow Buddhist practices which is what this book is essentially about. It covers many well known facts about Buddhist principles (one common assumption or myth being that Buddhists should not eat meat) and challenges them with his signature witty and straightforward style. You may not be a Buddhist but this book will be an eye opener and one that will help you examine your own religious beliefs. Get a glimpse into his views by reading his essay here.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Here is why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.

…I beg of you, pretend you are a dog like me and LISTEN to other people rather than steal their stories.

This one is a definite tearjerker that is sure to make you fall in love with dogs (if you weren’t already).  The narrator is the dog, Enzo, who tells us about his life from the time he was a pup to his adoption by Denny, a rising race car driver. The manner, in which he narrates his story, lets us know that Enzo is an old dog. He wishes to die but believes after hearing it on a NatGeo program that dogs can be reincarnated as humans, which is what he wants once he passes away. Read the author’s interview here.

Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Holding anger is a poison…It eats you from inside…We think that by hating someone we hurt them…But hatred is a curved blade…and the harm we do to others…we also do to ourselves.

Another Mitch Albom title finds its way here. This novel is a little different from Tuesdays with Morrie but equally packed with profound observations that will linger on long after you have finished reading it. When Eddie’s 83rd birthday joyride goes awry and he dies, he finds himself in heaven meeting five people who have had a long lasting impact on his life and thoughts. This inspirational and poignant story will make you appreciate the important people in your life who stick by your side and are always there for you. Read an excerpt here.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.

The Little Prince is a timeless and eternal gem of a book. Originally written in French, this novella has been translated into several languages. Thus, we must never judge a book by its size! It may be small but like The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, it describes numerous complex, intense ideas and thoughts with utter simplicity. It is told through the eyes of the pilot narrator who has crashed in the middle of Sahara and who meets a strange little boy, called as ‘the little prince.’ This young boy or prince gives the narrator ample of straightforward and childlike ideas which are more believable than the strict, realistic world of adults. Here is our review of the book. You can read the novel here.

The Restful Mind by Gyalwa Dokhampa

If you can let things come and go without being ruffled you will soon begin to ease a restless mind.

Written by the great saint or rimpoche from Bhutan, The Restful Mind is a succinct guide to a very modern problem of lack of concentration and a restless mind. The book provides easy to apply techniques of meditation and other habits in order to counter this 21st century problem and helps one attain a restful mind. The book is easy to read, comprehensive and very practical.  You can read it online here.

Hope this list brings in some good cheer and hope into all your lives! Let us know in the comments sections other books that have helped you go through tough times!

This article in no way seeks to promote these books as the ONLY solution to mental health issues. It is merely trying to get together a few titles that can boost one’s positivity.


Waiting for Godot

A lifetime is spent to find the actual meaning of happiness. People procrastinate their means of joy, just to have a better means someday. In search of that ‘someday’ they lose their glorious present. This vicious circle keeps moving till one day the end arrives and realisation and remorse does no good. It is imperative to live a fulfilled life day by day as it comes to us. We cannot postpone smiling and dancing to a tomorrow that never arrives. This realistic circumstance of life reminds me of a classic book ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. The protagonist is a foolish person who spends his life doing nothing because he has to wait for ‘Godot’ who apparently will get happiness for him. Seasons pass and he grows old, but his insanity and fixation of Godot does not let him live his life. Godot, obviously doesn’t exist. The protagonist of the story departs from this world in vain, without living a single day.


We tangle ourselves in wires and threads of emotions and judgements. So much so, that it is impossible to get out after a while. We want to live a life on our terms; the terms may be good or bad but our ego presumes they are the best for our soul. These terms are based on experiences, which are a consequence of these threads of judgements and emotions. No one but us can take us out of this paranoia. This state of anxiety and haste builds a labyrinth around us which eventually becomes a way of our life. Each of us has a personal labyrinth designed and customised personally by our thoughts and decisions taken over a period of a time. The morass therefore, gets complicated with increase of our age. We spend the rest of our lives living in the self constructed confinement going round and round in circles trying to resolve our delusions. The more we judge actions of our own and of those around us, the higher the walls of the labyrinth become. The process goes on till we die one day dissatisfied and lonely.


Only if like an efficient gardener, we keep trimming the hedges of our labyrinth and plant more trees of happiness instead,,we can get a lot of sunlight in our lives. Instead of an unattended ruckus we can live in a well groomed haven. The choice is ours and the way we choose to live defines the boundaries we build around ourselves. The ethereal question that rises is how at all we can trim these overbearing walls to have a hold of our lives?


Sadhguru says, “…it’s important to grow trees in people’s minds. It is important to acknowledge that we inhale what these trees exhale.” Once we are able to connect with these trees, we will realise that we absorb whatever life gives us and similarly the world absorbs what we exude. Gradually, we will be more aware of what we spread in this world because as a part of life cycle we will receive what we give. Therefore,the hedges of the labyrinth will be short lived and will disappear with time, giving way to a beautiful garden of openness, joy and non judgement. There shall be no labyrinth at all and it will become a way of life. There will be pleasantness and positivity around us which shall spread contagiously.

Let us all learn to live a life sans labyrinth for god has given us a life sans confinement and boundaries. Let our prejudices, envy and wrath not multiply and grow its roots to form a puzzle. Let the human inner beauty and sanity take over this antagonism hence giving us a garden of freedom that has flowers of love and spreads jubilance.


About the Author: Shalika Jain is an author, blogger, and a freelance content writer.

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