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All our lives have been changed dramatically by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of us are being sequestered at home, many are losing jobs and some of us have had to cancel milestone events, such as weddings and graduations. But we are not the first people to experience tough times and we won't be the last.  

We’ve selected 10 books, most of which have appeared on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list, that readers have turned to over the years for comfort during difficult times. Some books are spiritual and religious, offering solace. Others are secular and pragmatic, offering a little tough love. All provide some insight on how to improve our current circumstances and remind us that though we may feel cut off from the world, we are most definitely not alone.

“The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph,” by Ryan Holiday. The author uses stoicism and its ancient adherents – figures such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Cato – to argue that much of life is beyond our control, but not all of it. If we focus on what we can control and let go of the rest, we have an opportunity to improve.

“When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” by Harold Kushner. This classic, originally published in 1981, predates our best-seller list but does not preclude its popularity. Kushner, a rabbi, addresses the dichotomy of a loving God and human suffering. Kushner dedicated the book to the memory of his son who died at the age of 14 of an incurable disease.

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“It's Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered,” by Lysa TerKeurst. Life does not always turn out as we planned. According to Christian author TerKeurst, sometimes when things happen in life that are beyond our control, we question God’s goodness. TerKeurst explains to readers how to turn their own disappointments in God into “divine appointments.”

"Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor Frankl. The neurologist and psychiatrist chronicles his life in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He argues that one's mindset can affect one's future, and that meaning and purpose can be found in almost any circumstance.

"You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times," by Max Lucado. Lucado, a pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, encourages readers that even though it won’t be painless and won’t be quick, difficult times can be gotten through with the help of God.  

“The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World,” by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. The Dalai Lama and Tutu are both spiritual men who suffered years of exile and hardship. Yet both Nobel Prize-winners were still able to find joy. The pair look back over their lives and answer the question: “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?” 

“Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames,” by Thich Nhat Hanh. In addition to fear and anxiety, many of us are experiencing anger. In a book that was popular after the 9/11 attacks, the Buddhist monk gives advice on transforming the negative emotion we all experience into something positive.

“Crushing,” by T.D. Jakes. Similar to Kushner, Jakes addresses the age-old question, why do the righteous suffer and where is God when they do? Jakes, through sharing examples of his own crushing life experiences, encourages people to have hope and trust in God during difficult times.

“10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works,” By Dan Harris. People are feeling anxious, understandably. Harris knows something about that: The journalist had a televised panic attack in 2004. What helped? Meditation. Harris recounts his own journey through spirituality and self-help that led him to the adoption of the age-old practice.  

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“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Mark Manson. Don’t let the title fool you: The book actually takes an empathetic look at the cold, hard fact that life is not fair for everyone. Manson does not sugarcoat with platitudes but reminds us that, in life, we need to find meaning in all moments, good or bad.

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