Human beings are obsessed with finding purpose and meaning in their lives. I turn to books to find out what many others before me have spent their lifetimes discovering. Here are some novels that have kept me up all night, while being extremely enlightening.
The Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl (1946)
What would your attitude be towards unavoidable suffering when faced with a hopeless situation, where fate is involved? Frankl describes being a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, where he tried to find a purpose in life that he could feel positive about. It taught me that it’s how you react to situations that’s important.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)
An orphan, Pip, dreams of becoming a gentleman and winning the heart of the beautiful but haughty Estella. Expressions of life-long suffering over unrequited love, friendship, and the simplicity of unconditional love shown by kind-hearted uncle Joe, all make this novel worth reading and weeping over.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
This book charmed me with some of the most elegant English prose written. The storyline is basic, but it’s set against a grand backdrop, exploring themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change and social upheaval. Gatsby is an excellent portrayal of people held hostage by their memories, living in the past and unable to embrace the future that lies before them.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
I love to read travel memoirs and this one is easily my favourite. It was written by a woman who goes on a journey of self-discovery and is taking time to simply enjoy life. Anyone who reads this book is guaranteed to end up travelling to Italy, India, Indonesia or somewhere equally awesome, as it is capable of awakening serious wanderlust.
Aleph by Paulo Coelho (2010)
When a crisis of faith causes inner conflict, Coelho sets off on a path of spiritual renewal and growth. He travels first to Africa, then on to Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railway, where he meets Hilal, whom he believes is his lover from a past life. Together they learn about love, forgiveness and the strength to overcome life’s ineluctable challenges.
Janani Jayabal is the data and analytics manager at The National