The Year of Magical Thinking
Author: Joan Didion
Guaranteed to improve: Your ability to handle loss (like when you someday lose your virginity, for example).
Joan Didion chronicles the year after her husband's death in The Year of Magical Thinking. There is humor and hope among the despair that you would imagine accompanies the book; more powerfully, though, there is also clear-eyed analysis and research that she ably introduces in the midst of describing the absurdity of her pain.
One memorable moment is Didion's confession that she could not give away her husband's shoes, as she couldn't shake the feeling that he would need them when he returned. It might feel strange to include this alongside A Grief Observed, as it might appear that they work toward the same purpose, but the two books in tandem illustrate that grief and pain can stir myriad, valid responses. Perhaps, even, the two texts grow in importance when paired.