What You Can Read in Troubling Times

No doubt about it, these are troubling times. Tired of the pandemic, tired of politics and hate and war? Even novels include troubles that can be painful to read when you feel like the plane of life is going down. Never fear, here are things you can read in troubling times. Things that will soothe your soul.


Remember studying poetry in school? Unless you already loved words, you probably didn’t enjoy the poetry you had to analyze. That’s worse than unfortunate, because there is great beauty and peace and inspiration in some of those poems.

“If,” by Rudyard Kipling

“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

Smart” by Shel Silverstein

What poetry do you find inspiring or uplifting?

Read Picture books

There are so many great picture books. If you have children, you probably have a favorite or two. If you don’t have children, don’t be ashamed. They can be meaningful reads. 

The cover of the worrysaurus shows a comical, worrying, dinosaur-like creature sitting on a rock, the perfect read for troubling times

On a hot and sunny morning under lovely clear blue skies, a little Worrysaurus was opening his eyes.

The Worrysaurus
written by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Chris Chatterton

The cover of the Day I swapped my dad for two goldfish shows an illustration of a young boy showing off his goldfish to a disapproving mother, a romp that you can read in troubling times.

One day my mom went out and left me at home with just my little sister and my dad.

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
written by Neil Gaiman , illustrated by Dave McKean

The cover of Commander Toad in Space is an illustration of a green rocket with a one person bubble holding, who else, Commander Frog.

There is one ship, 

one mighty ship,

long and free,

that goes across the skies.

Commander Toad in Space written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bruce Degen

This is a delightful play on Star Wars. A little more advance than a regular picture book and a whole lot of fun for a Star Wars fan to read. 

Do you read picture books? Which one is your favorite?

Read Middle Grade Books

As with picture books there are so many great middle grade books, I couldn’t possibly list them all, but here are a couple to get you started.

Illustrated cover of Matilda is a colorful illustration of a young girl sitting on a crate reading and thinking about a book with lots of books on the floor around her.

Matilda’s brother Michael was a perfectly normal boy, but the sister, as I said, was something to make your eyes pop.

Matilda by Roald Dahl 

The cover of a wrinkle in time has the title and author name against a starry night sky with illustrations of the Mrs Ws along one side, children floating thru space above it, and the children approaching a tall building with a very large door.

It was a dark and stormy night.

In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quit, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Meg and her brother travel through time and space to save their father but Meg can save him only if she digs deep enough inside. I’ve written about this book before as the movie that wasn’t. Except now it has been a movie.

Ease Your Worry Lines

Find the type of reading that helps you, calms you, makes you smile. It’s what you can read in troubling times. Reading those books won’t take away your worries, won’t ease other people’s suffering, but it will put your head in a better place. And when your head is in a better place, you’ll be think more clearly, be the calm sea for someone else.

 What are your go-to reads for the days when the world is too heavy?

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