Remember when you were a kid and you thought being a grown-up meant having all the answers? Well, now it's 2015 and we're still trying to figure out life. Terms like "life lessons" and "life hacks" pop up frequently — like right here! — but at the end of the day, we're all still searching for the answers to our biggest questions.
It isn't all bad. Life is an adventure, after all, and a huge part of the excitement comes from new discoveries. Because we're naturally impatient creatures, though, we want the answers and we want them now. And because we can all be pretty dense at times, we also forget that we've learned anything at all before now.
Well, here's your reminder. These are the books that taught you really important life lessons when you read them. If you haven't yet had the pleasure of enjoying these titles, I strongly suggest you pick them up and start learning from them today.
'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
'Spinster' by Kate Bolick
Life lesson: Be who and where you need to be.
In Spinster, Kate Bolick reflects on her series of conscious decisions to live life as a single woman. The abilities to resist societal pressures and to follow your innermost compulsions are essential to becoming a strong, successful adult.
'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Life lesson: We should all be feminists (obviously).
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists took the world by storm when it was released last year. If you haven’t already learned its titular life lesson — which Adichie draws from bell hooks — pick up this short read and give it a whirl.
'The Reputation Economy' by Michael Fertik and David Thompson
'A Series of Unfortunate Events' by Lemony Snicket
'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M. Pirsig
Life lesson: Focus.
Mindfulness will improve your quality of life and save you a lot of hassles, but it can be difficult to master. Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has been training westerners in this East Asian brand of awareness since the 1970s. The bottom line: you can’t get anything done if you’re trying to do it all at once.
'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee
'1984' by George Orwell
Life lesson: Question everything.
If there is one book that can turn you into a paranoid conspiracy theorist, it’s George Orwell’s 1984. The novel’s core message, however, is that nothing may be as it seems. Learning to think critically and question all you’re told is one of the most important skills you can have as an adult.
'The Year of Magical Thinking' by Joan Didion
'I Feel Bad about My Neck' by Nora Ephron
'The Dark Tower' Series by Stephen King
Life lesson: Never forget where you came from or where you are going.
Stephen King’s magnum opus Dark Tower series is the quintessential epic journey, fashioned and delivered as only King can tell it. Beginning with The Gunslinger, readers join Roland on his lifelong quest to save the eponymous Dark Tower. King’s hero never forgets the face of his father and never loses sight of his goal, qualities we can all use in our lives.
'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' by Ann Brashares
Life lesson: Keep in touch with your friends.
After high school and college are over, it’s pretty difficult to stay close to your friends, at least geographically. But that should never stop you from keeping in touch. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants taught you how to stay friends with your friends, and that’s a beautiful thing.
'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuk
Life lesson: Even underdogs have power.
Even in a culture of toxic consumerism, a working class individual can still exert power over the major players in society. Tyler Durden’s inspirational “Do not fuck with us” speech still resonates for those of us who read Fight Club and took its message to heart.