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Sure, there’s plenty to be learned from the self-help aisle. But sometimes the best wisdom comes from a less obvious source: that page-turner on your nightstand or in your bag. These seven books helped us see the world a little differently and stuck with us long after we read the last page.

RELATED: 6 New Self-Help Books That Aren’t Corny and Lame

life books glass castle
“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This memoir about the author’s childhood in poverty is a testament to the power of resilience and finding the good in even the most difficult situations. (It also made us ease up on our own dysfunctional family.)

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life books persepolis
“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Not only is this graphic memoir a revealing glimpse into life in Iran in the years surrounding the Islamic Revolution, it’s also a beautiful reminder that the search for identity is never meaningless. 

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life books bell jar
“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Yes, it’s on every must-read list ever made, but for good reason: It’s a timeless, honest look at depression. If you didn’t read this semi-autobiographical masterpiece in high school, read it now. 

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life books kill mockingbird
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Where to begin? This classic is so rife with insight that we’ve asked ourselves on more than one occasion, “What would Scout do?” But if we have to boil it down: Always make an effort to understand others, and always stand up for what you believe in. 

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life books bridge
“Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

We’re going way back here, but this book about a two friends, an imaginary world and a sudden tragedy still haunts us as adults. (Maybe because the author was inspired to write it after a similar event in her own life.) Either way, it taught us to value every single day with the people we love. 

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life books neck
“I Feel Bad About My Neck” by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Hey, not every lesson needs to be a downer. And the brilliant Ms. Ephron enlightened us in the most entertaining way possible in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays about getting older. 

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life books Verity
“Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth E. Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein

There are books about the transformative power of friendship, and then there are books about the transformative power of friendship rooted in espionage and intrigue. This thrilling YA historical novel about an English and a Scottish teen who become confidantes during World War II is the latter.

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