Today I want to focus on feel-good books. Books that you read when you’re down, tired, needing a laugh. There are so many great books out there, but there are a few I come back to, time and time again, when I’m sick in bed, feeling out-of-sorts, or tired and just need a laugh.
I have a lot of favorites of these books, actually. I started listing them, and it became bigger, and bigger, and including book series. . . It’s really hard to narrow this category down! I might have to do another 5 sometime. From classics to new books recently adapted into movies (check the bottom of the list!), there are so many good, fun books out there. I’d love to hear your favorites!
(Each title is linked to the book on Amazon, and if you choose to purchase any of them through my affiliate links, I’ll get a few cents to buy more books, at no extra cost to you!)
Without further ado, five of my favorite fun, feel-good books!
by Jane Austen
This has become one of my favorite Austen books. It’s a collection of her works from before she wrote Pride and Prejudice (which she had written by the time she was 19), ranging from a short, silly history of England to unfinished stories, to longer novels. Written from about age 12-18, I love how it shows the progression of her writing.
But more importantly for this post, she was funny. I love reading Emma and Sense and Sensibility when I’m feeling down; they make me laugh. But this is when she was just starting out, working out her own writing style, and already writing about the English gentry in her own unique and humorous way, which was very distinctive for the time. Perfect for reading in bits and pieces, you can pick it up one week, then wait to read the other stories. . . But once you’ve started it, you won’t want to stop.
“Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint!”
“The very first moment I beheld him, my heart was irrevocably gone.”
by P.G. Wodehouse
(Side note: I just found out that when this was printed in America it was renamed ‘Mostly Sally’. I much prefer the original English title, don’t you? I didn’t know that because I listen to the audiobook!)
(Also, I just found a free ebook version, if you want to read a bit before you inevitably want to own it.)
I love Wodehouse. His Jeeves and Wooster series is of course wonderful, but my favorites tend to be other of his novels. None of the books in a series, but the lone novels–The Girl on The Boat is another good one!
But The Adventures of Sally is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the story of a young American girl who goes out on her own to live and work in New York City and her life there, most especially her friends and fiancés. Her money and relationship troubles follow her from poverty to riches when she inherits a fortune, but her few steadfast friends also stick with her through the struggles. Wodehouse creates her relationships, the foibles, fancies, happiness and hardships of her life, with an expert and seemingly effortless comedic hand. I’ve listened to the audiobook version several times, and it continues to be a favorite.
“And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.”
by J.R.R. Tolkien
I have actually recommended to start with this book as an introduction to Tolkien! Is that shocking? I love the Hobbit, and LOTR, but Roverandom has a special place in my heart. The backstory is almost my favorite part! Tolkien actually originally told the story to his son Michael (who was 4), when he lost a little toy dog at the beach, and after hours of looking Tolkien still couldn’t find it for Michael.
So, to console his son, Tolkien created a whole story in which this little dog, Rover, rambled, searching for his owner, the little boy that lost him. An irritable wizard turns Rover, who is a real dog in the story, into a toy. And trying to get the wizard to turn him back into a real dog, Rover goes to the bottom of the sea, to the moon, encounters friends and interesting creatures on both, and goes through dangers and adventures, all in an effort to find his own little boy. When his son loved the story, Tolkien decided to write it all down, and the resulting little book is so sweetly endearing.
“Rover did not know in the least where the moon’s path led to, and at present he was much too frightened and excited to ask, and anyway he was beginning to get used to extraordinary things happening to him.”
by William Goldman
(If you’ve already read this, but need a new book, I would suggest Cary Elwes’s As You Wish. It’s another fun read, if you love the book and/or movie! But more about that another time…)
A classic fairy tale-action-comedy-romance. A little bit of everything, this is really a one of a kind book. The movie is well known, but I’ve found that most people that love the movie have never read the book. But here’s the thing: the movie is excellent because it was adapted from the book by the author himself. . . which means not only is the movie true to the book, the book is even better, with parts that’s couldn’t be cut by the budget (the Zoo of Death!), and the way he weaves in the ‘adaptation’ from the ancient old Florin book–an ‘abridged’ version that has “only the good parts” is a brilliant move (don’t skip the introduction, whatever you do!). And, you get to meet Buttercup’s parents, who weren’t in the movie, but are two of my favorite characters!
If you’re in need of an action-filled, beautiful romance, with funny characters and interesting plot-twists, backstories, and really, the overall novel, this is a perfect book for you. “Only the good parts” means that he skips from swordfight to love story to kidnapping to daring escape, interweaving all of the best bits and pieces from various genres, creating a beautiful combination.
“I am as devoted to adventure now as then, and that’s never going to stop.”
“Terrible things can happen when you’re overtired. I was overtired the night your father proposed.”
by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows
(This was just made into a movie, and I’m so excited! I haven’t seen it yet, but let me know if you have!)
My Aunt just introduced me to this one a couple months ago, and I’ve already listened to the audiobook twice. A novel in letters, set right after WWII, it’s about an author in London who makes friends with some islanders from Guernsey, who had been occupied during the war, and formed a literary society (book club), that had saved them during the occupation, bringing comfort to one another through reading.
There’s a lot to it, and I don’t want to say too much, other than I love it. It shows just how much power people, and books, have. It shows the devastation of the war through the lens of a healing community, and through it all it keeps a (mostly) light tone, as the main characters write to each other about the island, London, and their lives, with some funny stories about the different characters, the occupation, and life returning to normal afterward. And the main characters are all book lovers. They may not have started out that way, they might only like one book, but that one book (and the mention their favorites!), they fervently love.
“Humour is the best way to make the unbearable bearable.”
“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”
What are your favorite feel-good books? When do you like to read them?
Give me your suggestions below!