An interesting article on the benefits of reading. The author says War and Peace is his favorite book, it transformed his life, helped him deal with his problems.
I also have a book (or rather a literary heroine) that helped me cope, when I desperately needed it. I was much younger then, a recent divorcee with two small children and no job. Life was hard, and I was close to despair. And the one who helped me deal with all the endless problems in that rough stretch of my life was Angelique from the eponymous series of books by Anne Golon.
You might snicker at my choice of life-saving reading material, but I've never been drawn to sophisticated literary masterpieces. Angelique attracted me by her tenacity and love for life. Every time I wanted to cry, every time a job interview went south or I felt drowning in loneliness, I thought: Angelique didn't give up. Whatever happened, she persevered. She brought her children safely through poverty and danger. I can do it too.
There is no comparison between Leo Tolstoy's philosophical classic and a trashy series about a sexy adventuress by a French writer, but both helped at least one person during the dark periods in their life. Any book is good, folks.