Mitch Albom’s inspirational memoir Tuesday’s with Morrie is a life lesson about a rekindled relationship with his old college professor. During the time spent with his former mentor, Albom delves deep into the important questions that haunt him and rediscovers how to live. The following 11 titles share the same wholesomeness of Albom’s novel, each offering its own interpretation of the art of living.
1. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
The Last Lecture was co-authored by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. To contribute to a series of ongoing lectures held by top academics, Pausch was asked to give a hypothetical “final talk”–if you were to die tomorrow, what words of wisdom would you share with the world, and what legacy would you leave behind?
However, Pausch didn’t have to imagine the talk as his last, as he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year earlier. He delivered a powerful lecture titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and transferred its magic onto the pages of this book. Filled with humor and intelligence, The Last Lecture is about the importance of seizing the day and overcoming obstacles, but also helping others reach their full potential.
2. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrick Backman
Set in Sweden, Fredrick Backman’s third novel follows Elsa, a 7-year-old girl who’s quite different from other kids her age. Clever and with a penchant for proper grammar, Elsa is extremely close with her free-spirited and unconventional grandmother (Granny), her best and only friend.
When Granny dies, she leaves behind a series of letters in which she apologizes to all the people she has wronged in her life. Elsa’s task is to deliver the letters, and her journey will take her to unexpected places, discovering more about her Granny’s diverse personality and the lives she touched along the way.
3. Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine is a series of short stories connected by the setting and the characters. It’s about 12-year-old Douglas, his family, and the joys of summer in a small town in Illinois. Loosely based on Bradbury’s own childhood, the stories follow Douglas as he spends a magical 1928 summer filled with green apple trees, gathering dandelions, and half-burnt firecrackers. Dandelion Wine is a reminder about the little things that make up life and the people we share them with.
4. Restless Souls, by Dan Sheehan
Dan Sheehan’s debut novel Restless Souls follows a trio of childhood friends from Dublin in their late 20s–Tom, Karl, and Mal. Tom has spent five years as a war correspondent in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, and he returns to Dublin a broken man, suffering from severe PTSD.
Tom’s flighty, banter-loving friends know they are absurdly unqualified to help him, but they are determined to chase away his demons. On Tom’s behalf, Karl applies to an experimental PTSD clinic in California called Restless Souls, and the trio embark on a journey of salvation. But, if they are to save Tom from darkness, they must save themselves first from a haunting childhood memory.
5. Girls Burn Brighter, by Shobha Rao
Set in a small Indian village, Girls Burn Brighter is a captivating story about friendship and ambition that survive against all odds. The novel centers on Poornima and Savitha, two like-minded, independent girls looking for more in life than an arranged marriage. When an act of savagery makes Savitha run away, Poornima leaves everything behind and sets off to find her friend.
Rao explores the pressing issues women face today, including immigration, human trafficking, and domestic abuse. Her novel is an ode to feminism in its finest form, a tale of unwavering friendship between two heroines.
6. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, by Rod Dreher
Rod Dreher is a Philadelphia journalist whose younger sister Ruthie was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 40. In the wake of her death, Dreher returns to his hometown of St. Francisville, Louisiana to be with his sister during her final days. Amazed by the outpour of love and support by the local community and his sister’s courage and grace, Dreher decides to relocate his family to Louisiana and re-engage with the small-town life his sister led.
A mixture of a memoir and a tribute, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming describes the greatness of a seemingly ordinary life and the healing power of social bonds.
7. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl’s absorbing book Man’s Search for Meaning describes his life as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and spiritual life lessons that came out of it. Based on his own and his inmates’ experiences, Frankl argues that you can’t avoid suffering, but you can overcome it by finding meaning in it. According to his theory, known as logotherapy, the primary force that motivates humans is the search for a purpose in life. Being focused on the future and the search for meaning enables people to endure hardships.
Man’s Search for Meaning has become one of the most influential books in the United States and it’s a compelling exploration of what the act of living truly means.
8. Twelve Thousand Days: A Memoir of Loss and Love, by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Published in 2018, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne’s witty and moving memoir recounts her 30-year relationship with a renowned academic Bo Almvqvist, before he suddenly passed away in 2013. The memoir is a meditation on death and grief, but also on life and how to live it to the fullest. The author candidly explores all the stages of their relationship and the compromises they had to make. Twelve Thousand Days is first and foremost a love story, but also a clever commentary on Irish culture.
9. The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt
Spanning a period from 1895 to World War I, The Children’s Book follows the large Wellwood family and their artful life full of adventures, passions, and betrayals. At the center of it is Olive, a famous author of children’s literature who supports her family with her writing and throws lively parties at her home in the countryside.
However, the joyous gatherings contrast the private books she writes about her children, and the slowly emerging dark secrets about the Wellwoods threaten to tear the entire family apart. However, their personal struggles will soon be overshadowed by more powerful tides spreading across Europe and changing people’s lives forever.
10. Keeper’n Me, by Richard Wagamese
Garnet Raven is a young Native American who was taken from his home on an Ojibwe Indian reserve when he was three years old. What ensued was a life in various foster homes and later on the streets, until Garnet finds himself in jail by the age of 20.
While there, Garnet receives a letter from his long-forgotten native family and decides to return to the reserve upon his release from prison. Re-entering the old world brings something new with it, as Garnet learns about his culture and community. He tries to find meaning in his life by reconnecting with his roots, but not everyone thinks he’s welcome there.
11. The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, by Joe Siple
Murray McBride is about to turn 100, but he doesn’t feel like celebrating. He’s outlived his wife and their two sons, and he’s struggling to find the reason to keep on living. This changes when he meets 10-year-old Jason, a terminally ill boy with a list of five things he wants to do before he dies. The two unlikely friends develop a close relationship as they race against time. Will they be able to tick off all the wishes from Jason’s list?