12 Great Books (And The Perfect Kind Of Mood To Read Them In)

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. –Paul Sweeney

What’s the last book that moved you? That made you laugh or cry or completely reconsider your thoughts on life or love? Those are always the books that stick with me. When I come across a book that truly impacted me I can often remember the intricate details of where I bought it or who gave it to me. Sometimes when I’m in a certain mood, reading a favorite book can help heighten the depth of emotion. Here are a few great books and the perfect kind of mood to read them in.

1. When it’s late at night and you want to go on a dark, twisted journey.


Haunted by the death of his brother and the suicide of his mother, Ben continues to slip deeper into the darkness of his own mind. Convinced everything wrong in the world can be traced back to a drug dealer, Ben heads out on a journey to Saskatoon to kill him. Magpie is a riveting read that’s sure to keep you up all night.

2. When you want to buy a one way ticket and never look back.


In The Lost Girls, readers go an adventure around the world with Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda as the three best friends decide to ditch their careers and lives back home for a crazy journey around four continents.

3. When you hate everyone in your family.


The title explains it all, although some might know the book as the PG-friendly title Being Flynn. When you think no one understands just how hard it is to have a complicated family, this book shows you you’re not alone.

4. When it feels like no one understands you.


Marina Keegan was seen as a literary prodigy for her work as both a journalist and playwright at a young age. Her essay “The Opposite Of Loneliness” went viral just a few days after she died in a car crash following her graduation from Yale University. Her collection of work was published posthumously with features and essays that will make you wish this young writer could have lived long enough to keep telling stories of the truths of this generation in a way no one else could.

5. When you’re not sure if you’re doing that great at this whole adult thing.


This is every 20-somethings’ manifesto as Sheila Heti explores all of the life issues we deal with as adults while also wondering if we’re actually adults or just faking it.

6. When you’re waiting for that person to text you back but they haven’t texted back and now you’re re-examining everything.


Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been uneventful, at least until he finds himself at a boarding school with one of the most clever, beautiful, and self-destructive girls he’s ever met. Looking For Alaska is a classic coming-of-age love story and it’s great for one of those moments when you aren’t quite dating someone, yet everything feels so possible.

7. When there’s a soft rain outside and you’re all introspective about life and love.

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Markus Almond is known for his work as a guitarist in varying pop-punk bands but the heart and soul of this artist can be found in his zines and books. Things To Shout Out Loud At Parties is the kind of humorous and insightful book you read when you’re examining everything in your life and looking for a friend to give you advice.

8. When you’re thinking of saying “fuck it” and wandering off into the Alaskan wilderness like some type of modern day Thoreau.


Jon Krakauer looks at the life and death behind Christopher McCandless and his journey through Alaska in Into The Wild. McCandless’ story inspired millions but hopefully Krakauer’s book will help you be a little bit more realistic if you’re thinking of heading off to the great unknown.

9. When it feels like no one else has ever felt alone as you feel right now.


No one knew the depths of loneliness quite like Charles Bukowski. In one of his most moving pieces of work, Bukowski writes about everything from his childhood to his cats in this collection of poetry.

10. When your day job sucks and you want to figure out how to do something, anything else with your life.

What do John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart,  Ulysses S. Grant, and Steve Jobs have in common? They followed a simple formula for taking life’s major obstacles and turning them into opportunities for success. Ryan Holiday explores the formula and the lives of some of the world’s most interesting and successful people and he shows readers how they can use the formula in their own lives.

 11. When you’re questioning absolutely everything right now.


Grab your favorite vice, pick up this book, and find out all the answers to all those probing ‘what if’ questions you probably ask yourself when you’re really, really high. 

 12. When all you want is your best friend.


Ann Patchett looks back at her friendship with Lucy Grealy in Truth and Beauty as the two young writers experienced life together at the Iowa Writers Workshop and beyond. It’s a beautiful tribute to Lucy and one that will make you want to call up your best friend and ask her how she’s doing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Former senior staff writer and producer at Thought Catalog.

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