Five Best Books: (Recovering from) Tragedy

In this week’s 5 Best Books we are asked to list our Five Best Books: (Recovering from) Tragedy. It’s a tribute to the tragic day that changed all of our lives forever, September 11th.

I try not to read too many tragedies. Life is complicated and filled with disappointments and worries as it is. I try to take away something good from everything I read. Cassandra’s idea about listing books that are not mere tragedies but are books that can teach us something about recovering from it really appealed to me. So, here are some books that contain tragedies but have people who recover from them too. At least they have some glimmer of hope in them.

1.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Losing your friends, losing yourself and then finding out it was all in vain, that’s the tragedy of the protagonist Pip’s life. Miss Havisham’s tragedy is another aspect of the story. Her tragedy eats her up and her anger at herself and at the world destroys not only her own but also the happiness of those who come in contact with her. In the end Pip does manage to recover some of his former happiness and does find some solace. Maybe it is too little, too late but at least he realizes who his friends are and who he truly is. 

2.  Seize the Day by Saul BellowOne of my favourite reads from last year.The story explores one day in the life of an unemployed man, Tommy Wilhelm, as he tries to reconnect with the world and recover his lost dignity. This is not a happy book and it doesn’t really have a happy ending. But at least Wilhelm is forced to come face to face with himself. He finally stops running away from reality. In my opinion, that counts for something.

3.  The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz JensenA story about a child lying comatose on a hospital bed after a near fatal fall can never be a happy book. The police’s suspicion that one of his family members might have done the deed makes the book even more disturbing. Nevertheless, the truth behind little Louis’s painful home life, when exposed, finally brings about some sense of peace and closure, even if it comes at a terrible price.

4.  The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe scene where Liesel loses her foster father made my heart wring. Her survival even after so many tragedies is the best aspect of the book.

5.  Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe by George Eliot After losing his faith in humanity, Silas Marner becomes less than human, more of a machine than a man. But he is rescued by a little girl who suddenly walks into his life and firmly guides him back to light. Even though I have ambiguous feelings towards the book in general, Silas’s relationship with his adopted daughter Eppie truly touched my heart.



  1. This is a great list! I have been meaning to read Saul Bellow for some time. Now I have one more reason. I completely agree on Great Expectations – I wonder why it is that I just never go to the classics, even when its one of the few that I’ve read since high school. I need to do better in that aspect.

    Thanks for joining us!

    1. Thanks! This was my first Saul Bellow. Seize the Day is not a very happy book and at times I had a difficult time dealing with it. But I feel it was totally worth it. I am willing to read more works by him.

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