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Top 5 books to read while grieving

Writer Jill Hopper, who tragically lost her boyfriend Arif while in her twenties, gives us her top five books to read while grieving. 
Books, especially, can play an important part in helping us get over loss. Image credit: Everton Villa / Unspalsh

The difficult process of grieving is something we all, unfortunately, have to go through.

Many of us will find comfort in small things that allow us to tune out and let time heal. Books, especially, can play an important part in helping us get over loss.

Here, writer Jill Hopper, who lost her boyfriend Arif while in her twenties and has penned a book about the joy and anguish of a young relationship cut short, gives us her top five books to read while grieving.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

Musician Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe fell in love in 1960s New York, their lives and art intertwining. Twenty years later, Mapplethorpe died of HIV/Aids; Just Kids is Smith’s entrancing meditation on what their relationship meant to her.


The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s account of the aftermath of her husband’s sudden, unexpected death captures perfectly the distorted thought patterns that can make you feel like your mind has been hijacked in the early months of bereavement.


Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

As a young woman, Vera Brittain suffered three devastating losses in the First World War: her close friend, her fiancé and her brother. Her autobiography is a profound examination of how human beings carry on even in the face of unthinkable tragedy.


The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard

When Richard Beard was 11, his nine-year-old brother Nicky drowned on a family trip to Cornwall, a tragedy no one ever spoke about. Four decades later, Beard breaks through the silence to piece together a picture of what happened that day. A starkly moving, mosaic-like book. 


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald’s struggles to tame a wild goshawk while mourning the sudden death of her father provide a powerful metaphor for the uncontrollable nature of grief.

The Mahogany Pod by Jill Hopper is out now (£14.99, Saraband)