The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
This book is written by a French professor of philosophy and from the ideas to the characters to the ending, it is all very French. Barbery's characters are constantly contemplating the meaning of art, literature, and life while simultaneously exuding a sense of self-pity as the result of (what they imply to be) a long-suffering life. The novel is a double-narrative: a concierge who is a closet autodidact and a pessimistic 12-year-old girl who is determined to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. Eventually their lives intertwine until they realize they are kindred spirits and together, begin to understand life in a new way.
Barbury manages to write about the meaning of life in a way that is subtle yet eye-opening. For me, the book highlights how things can change from bad to good without anything changing much at all and stresses the redemptive potential of true friendships.
If you are looking for a book that might change and challenge the way you look at things, I ask you to let this be it.