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8 Books About Life to Read Before You Die

Updated on January 17, 2018

8 Books About Life to Read Before You Die

Get some serious inspiration with this fantastic collection of books about life from both the fiction and non fiction genres. If you're looking for a good novel to read that will change your life, then here are eight of the most highly recommended "must read" novels of our time. For those who prefer to receive inspiration through non fiction prose, there are eight motivational/self help books for you to choose from that will change your world, your life and your relationships for good.

Lucky enough to have a Kindle, iPad or other e-reader? Most of these wonderful books are available for download today and for those of you that prefer a traditional book made of real paper, they are also available in paperback or hardback.

4 Inspirational Novels That Will Change Your Life

People are usually mistaken in thinking that books about life contain instant answers for life’s problems. One should know that these books do not offer an easy way out but instead, stand as beacons during the darkest moments of our lives. Fictional or autobiographical, this collection of books are inspired by significant moments in the authors’ lives that helped shape their attitude and approach in living that has proved to be advantageous in overcoming obstacles.

The Alchemist

One night, Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd boy, dreams of treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. He leaves Spain in pursuit of this treasure and embarks on an adventure of a lifetime. He meets insightful characters, the most memorable of which is the alchemist.

He provides the boy with spiritual enlightenment and encourages him to continue the pursuance of his dreams despite the hardship. Simple yet thought-provoking, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is one of the most famous books about life for its inspiring lessons. It is a charming story that teaches the young and reminds the old, that in life, dreams and suffering coincide.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Florentino Ariza was set to deliver a message when he spots Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love with her. A courtship done solely through letters, a compelling love story that spans half a century unfolds, with the parallelization of Fermina’s loveless marriage with Dr. Urbino and Florentino Ariza’s innumerable trysts.

By award-winning Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, Love in the Time of Cholera is magical and passionate in its prose, perfect for the late 19th century South America in which it was set, and is ultimately a brilliant love and life story.


Henri Charrière, also known as “Papillon” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was wrongly convicted of murder in 1931 Paris. Sentenced to life imprisonment in a penal colony in French Guiana, he begins a series of unsuccessful attempts of escape which eventually leads to his transfer to Devil’s Island.

Nobody has ever escaped from this notorious prison before, nobody until Papillon. This book was published 20 years after his final escape and is an awesome and gripping autobiographical tale of human cunning, perseverance and endurance of a truly innocent man.

Shantaram: A Novel

What makes Shantaram an exciting read is not just the betrayal, passion or crimes involved but the fact that it is autobiographical. Shantaram, meaning “man of God’s peace” is a name bequeathed to Mr. Lindsay, a young man, fresh from his escape from an Australian prison, who has fled to Bombay.

There he meets the smiling Prabaker who introduces him to the language Marathi and living in India in general. He also finds love in Karla, a green-eyed Swiss-American woman and a turbulent relationship ensues. This 944-page novel is honest, even shamelessly poetic, proving that there is gentleness in Lindsay’s tough heart.

4 Non Fiction Books That Will Change Your Life

The following 4 book recommendations are all non fiction books that everyone should read at some point in their lives. With titles from some of the most successful and popular motivational gurus, as well as title's that focus more on the spiritual aspects of life, this is a collection that should have a permanent home on your book shelf.

The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: Handbook for Living

This collection on books about life would not be complete without the wise words of the Dalai Lama. In an exclusive interview with the Buddhist leader, psychiatrist Howard Cutler asks the most persistent life questions. Cutler manages to move past the simplistic answers to more in-depth ideas which he develops with the use of case studies from his own practice.

While the art of happiness proves to require more study and practice, the Dalai Lama proves that it is not impossible. This book offers advice on everything including spirituality, family, health plus overcoming sadness, anger, jealousy and the like.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)

In this fast-paced world, stress is now a fact of life. With concerns constantly bouncing from every side, it is easy to lose oneself in the whirlwind of living. Fortunately, stress consultant Richard Carlsson willingly provides guidance in this bestseller.

With the help of 100 meditations he himself designed, the reader is guaranteed to pull out of the cycle of neuroticism once and for all. He prescribes small, wonderful acts for the happiness of others and the self. Cheerful and contagiously optimistic, this book is recommended for anyone wishes to move beyond the worry and hassle.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Success is one of the top priorities in life but there’s no quick, sure-fire way to get it. This business bestseller book by Stephen Covey acknowledges that fact and trains your “proactive muscles” to help you take on the 7 habits towards personal and professional effectiveness.

The first three habits imbibe self-mastery. They lead to the next three habits which imparts teamwork and communication, all culminating to the 7th habit which help the reader continuously improve and move towards success. The process is intricate, but the book itself is dreadfully simple in its language and advice that all that is really needed here is the reader’s determination to truly become a better person.

Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning is not one of your conventional books about life for the plain reason that it is revolutionary in its content. Author Professor Viktor E. Frankl begins with an ascetic yet moving essay on his five-year imprisonment in concentration camps in Auschwitz, narrating his reflections and his struggle to live. He then introduces in the second part of the book, Logotherapy, the psychotherapeutic method he had developed from the experience.

Here we learn that Frankl believes man is essentially driven by his search for meaning in life. By weaving his personal experience with his professional breakthrough, the book emerges a powerful and inspiring guide to the understanding of people and essentially ourselves and what we wish to achieve in this lifetime.

Which Book Will You Read Today?

From a treasure trek in Egypt to escaping prison and surviving the very worst horrors of war, these twenty books about life are moving and inspirational in their content. While most of us are far away from these experiences, and fortunately too, this shouldn’t stop us from gaining insight from them. This collection certainly proves to be the magnificent phoenix of enlightenment rising from the ashes of tribulations.


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    • profile image

      Dasari Murali 

      4 months ago

      Oh My God! which one to choose?!

      I must search for the "Man's search for Meaning".

    • Erudite Scholar profile image

      Jeff Zod 

      20 months ago from Nairobi

      Hi Susan,

      I have always been fascinated by books ever since I was young. Books enthralled me, captured my imagination and transported me to magical dream worlds. Harry Potter did this for me.

      I have really enjoyed reading your article. It was insightful and enlightening. Thanks for the list. I will definitely read these books.

    • frenziedartist profile image

      C Stewart 

      23 months ago from Alabama

      Great recommendations and list!

    • Ranzi profile image

      Cut The Bullshit 

      6 years ago from All Over

      Great list and selection. 7 habits is a good one.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      6 years ago from UK

      I love Shantaram. It's one of the best books I've ever read.

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      Thanks for the recommmendations! I am at the moment making my way through Shantaram and have to admit I began reading with much scepticism, but now I am being enthralled by the beauty of the writing at times.

    • itsallsparetime profile image

      Nicole Lidman 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      I've read many of the books here and have to agree they are must reads and I frequently lend them out :), I haven't read "Man’s Search for Meaning" It'll have to be next on my list! Thank you for the great hub.

    • Bbudoyono profile image


      8 years ago

      very good list. I will read Paolo Coelho's book.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great list. "The Alchemist" and "Shantaram" are my two of my favorite books. "Shantaram" is breathtaking. One thing though, in your description for "Love In The Time Of Cholera" you state that the book was written by Paulo Coelho. That's incorrect. Coelho wrote "The Alchemist", among other works. G.G.Marquez wrote "Love In The Time Of Cholera".

    • pmccray profile image


      9 years ago from Utah

      Thanks for the great read suggestions. Voted up, marked useful.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Very good and tasteful choice of books. Thank you for sharing.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      9 years ago from UK

      @K J Page - All of these books are in print and easy to get hold of. You're right though I could have easily added another 20 or 40 books to the list :)

      @FCEtier - Thanks for your suggestions :)

      Thanks Dallas :)

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      9 years ago from UK

      @seanorjohn - I hadn't though about these books from the Christmas gift angle, but you're right - books make excellent Christmas gifts!

      @tnderhrt - Thanks for the compliments. If you're a "reader" like me, I think you'll enjoy these inspiring books.

      @Autumn - Thanks :) Personally I read nearly every day and miss it if I don't. There's always time for reading!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      9 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Thanks for sharing. Great list.

    • FCEtier profile image


      9 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Great list!

      "Man's Search for Meaning" and "Think and Grow Rich" I give 4 stars!

      I might suggest "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie and also the book of "Proverbs" from the Bible.

    • K J Page profile image

      K J Page 

      9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I read a whole lot, but most of the books on your list I have never heard of - but I will certainly see if I can find some of them - I love to read these kinds of books....the list could be so long............

    • Autumn Lynn profile image

      Autumn Lynn 

      9 years ago from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

      You are a talented writer. I am trying to learn all I can from the talented writers on Hub Pages. How will I ever find the time to read some of these great books you have turned me on to-a couple I have not read or even heard of. Which one will I read today???

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting inspirational hub. I love how you end it with your question "Which book will you read today?" and your final statement, "This collection certainly proves to be the magnificent phoenix of enlightenment rising from the ashes of tribulations." Now its off to the library for me!

    • seanorjohn profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting list. There are quite a few I have never heard of. I'm sure your reviews will boost sales. Some good Christmas presents here. Voted up.


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