Start The New Year Off In A Positive Mood With These 10 Feel-Good Novels
Last year I somehow plummeted down an endless hole of gut-wrenching novels, those whose authors seemed to be dead set on making me feel heartbroken and uncomfortable. At one point, 300 pages into a novel, I was so emotionally stressed I threw the book across the room, aimed my beady little blood shot eyes at my fiancé and wailed “Why do they want to make people feel this way?! People don’t want to feel this way!!!!” I admit, my reaction was a bit….Dawson Cry Face excessive. But I was upset. I was good on feeling stressed, anxious, sad, and negative – 2020 was already delivering a perfectly designed hell-coaster of those emotions.
Sidenote: It was sort of my fault. I have this thing where I don’t like to read the back of books or learn anything about the story before diving into it. I head to a bestselling book list or throw a theme into Google like “Holiday Novels” read maybe one sentence of the description and let the author take me away. To somewhere horrible. Repeatedly.
Surprise me she said. It will be great she said….
If you’re an empath like me, you too might be done taking chances on your reads, at least for now. You know darn well that 2021 can easily deliver another crap year if it wanted to, but you also know that you have some control over your emotions, at least the emotions a book makes you feel. Time to find a pleasant… No. An uplifting, warm your heart, leave you with a smile on your face kind of novel.
Here are ten:
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
A WASHINGTON POST “FEEL-GOOD BOOK GUARANTEED TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS”
A New York Times bestseller | Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction | A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!
“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
A People Book of the Week, Book of the Month Club selection, and Best of Fall in Good Housekeeping, PopSugar, The Washington Post, New York Post, Shondaland, CNN, and more!
“[A] quirky, big-hearted novel…Wry, wise, and often laugh-out-loud funny, it’s a wholly original story that delivers pure pleasure.” —People
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
“Literary sunshine.”–New York Times
Brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) also a page turner that held me captive until it was finished. This is Emma Straub’s absolute best and the world will love it. I love it. –Ann Patchett
A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.
When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince is a classic tale of equal appeal to children and adults. On one level it is the story of an airman’s discovery, in the desert, of a small boy from another planet – the Little Prince of the title – and his stories of intergalactic travel, while on the other hand it is a thought-provoking allegory of the human condition.
First published in 1943, the year before the author’s death in action, this translation contains Saint-Exupery’s delightful illustrations.
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
“A warm, charming tale about the rewards of revealing oneself, warts and all.”
The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love
Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes—in a plain, green journal—the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves—and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café.
The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters—including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends—is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward—and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.
The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for—and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making. Source: Publisher
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Recounts the adventures of Buttercup, a beautiful woman and Westley the man she loves. Includes revenge, true love, monsters, miracles, pirates and great escapes in the fairytale kingdom of Florin.
Yes Man by Danny Wallace
Recently single, Danny Wallace was falling into loneliness and isolation. When a stranger on a bus advises, “Say yes more,” Wallace vows to say yes to every offer, invitation, challenge, and chance.
In Yes Man, Wallace recounts his months-long commitment to complete openness with profound insight and humbling honesty. Saying yes takes Wallace into a new plane of existence: a place where money comes as easily as it goes, nodding a lot can lead to a long weekend overseas with new friends, and romance isn’t as complicated as it seems. Yes eventually leads to the biggest question of all: “Do you, Danny Wallace, take this woman . . .”
Yes Man is inspiring proof that a little willingness can take anyone to the most wonderful of places.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
A “cheerfully engaging” (Kirkus Reviews) novel for anyone who’s ever asked herself, “How did I get here?”
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over—she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…