On his blog this spring, Rod Dreher invited readers to chime in and list books that have rescued them from a downward spiral, as The Divine Comedy did for him. (A review of Dreher's book, How Dante Can Save Your Life, appeared in our June issue.) CT asked Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image Journal and author of such books as Beauty Will Save the World, to run with this theme. Here, Wolfe lists 5 books that can save your life.

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Like Dante’s The Divine Comedy, The Brothers Karamazov has it all: heaven, hell, and the purgatorial world in between. Part murder mystery, part novel of ideas, this sprawling, profoundly Russian novel of passion, betrayal, and the fragility of hope is held together by the young monk Alyosha. His innocence and faith are challenged not only by earthly passions but by his brother Ivan’s powerful nihilism. Alyosha passes through fires of tribulation to a hard-won vision of compassion and grace.

Four Quartets, by T. S. Eliot

Though legendary for being cryptic and obscure, Eliot’s poem has rewarded generations of readers with profound insights into the spiritual life. Written just before and during World War II—and infused with the suffering and grief of those years—Four Quartets raises the ultimate questions about time, suffering, ecstasy, and death. The central theme is the difficulty of holding on to truth; the poem suggests that moral and spiritual disciplines shape our capacity to glimpse meaning, to draw near to the “still point of the turning world.”

Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton

Set in mid-20th-century Perth, Australia, Cloudstreet chronicles the lives of two families forced to inhabit the same home. Sam Pickles, ...

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