Good Novels For Hard Times

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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.