Not long ago, I flagged a piece by Leon Wieseltier called "The Tolstoy Bailout," and it makes a great case for why great books matter, especially in these hard times. As he put it, "In tough times, of all times, the worth of the humanities needs no justifying. The reason is that it will take many kinds of sustenance to help people through these troubles. Many people will now have to fall back more on inner resources than on outer ones. They are in need of loans, but they are also in need of meanings…. We are in need of fiscal policy and spiritual policy. And spiritually speaking, literature is a bailout, and so is art, and philosophy, and history, and the rest. … Regression analysis will not get us through the long night. We need to know more about the human heart than the study of consumer behavior can teach. These are the hours when the old Penguin paperbacks must stand us in good stead. It was for now that we read them then."
With that in mind, I present you with a handy list, "Good Novels for Hard Times," just published by the San Francisco Chronicle.
You may also want to visit our list of Life Changing Books, as determined by our readers.