Some days, you just can’t seem to shake your bad mood. Whether it’s the weather, or a string of things that keep going wrong, life can just get you down. So how do you break out of an emotional rain cloud? Books, naturally.
What better place to turn to lift your spirits, than the pages of your favorite novel? From your favorite childhood read, to a tried and true classic, to the guilty pleasure series that never fails to put a smile on your face, there are some books that you can’t read without feeling happy. There’s a reason some of your paperbacks are so well-worn, and there’s a reason you keep that one special book in your purse at all times: reading your favorite book is a surefire way to beat the blues.
I don’t organize my bookshelf alphabetically; I have a specific system. Most shelves are organized by topic (childhood books on one shelf, young adult books on another, classics all together, etc.). But the top shelf is special. That’s where I keep the Most Important Books to me; the ones that always make me feel happy when I read them. So I asked a group of women — what's your Top Shelf book that always puts you in a good mood?
1. The Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
The books that I always return to over and over again are actually a YA set with four different books by Megan Whalen Turner. Even though it's a YA series, I love the characters. I love Eugenedies. I love her characters. I find myself re-reading the books if I'm between books or if I just need something comforting. Even though there are some tragic events, I know that the characters will persevere. I love how people and issues are shown as complex, even though it's a YA novel. People aren't always what they seem, and Eugenedies is just an amazing character.
— Tanya, 43
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Deeply thoughtful and relentlessly funny. A perfect combo.
— Chelsey, 26
3. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I love the characters, so rereading the book you just feel like you are hanging out with friends. Plus, it's really funny, but also a lot of action.
— Maddie, 23
4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I've always been obsessed with London and the one-day storytelling embodies the fast-paced nature of the city that I love to immerse myself in.
— Amelia, 21
5. Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
Oh, The Places You'll Go By Dr. Seuss has always been an uplifting book for me. I have much of it memorized! When I do a soundcheck (I'm a musician), I often recite parts of the book and see the room light up. In kindergarten, our teacher read us the book. This is perhaps the most vivid memory I have of that first year in school. That year was one of great change. Our mother left our father and brought us to a new state to start a new life. Then, in high school, I gave the big graduation speech (not based on my grades which were't great, but the speech which was voted on blindly.) In that speech, I opened with a quote from the book.
— Rachel, 33
6. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
Reading in general puts me in a good mood, it's why I love to read! But I will always go to Jane Austen (specifically Pride and Prejudice) if I'm desperate for a feel good story. Lizzy Bennet is my spirit animal.
— Kelsey, 24
7. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A book that always makes me happy is Le Petit Prince. Even though it's written like a children’s book, it always hits me right in the adulthood. It explores human nature and relationships in a really honest and pure way. Plus it has really gorgeous illustration to boot!
— Hannah, 21
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The book I always read when I'm trying to get out of a funk is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The prose is just so fun and Adams so clearly wrote it with an anything goes attitude which always makes me smile. Second runner up would probably be the Harry Potter series. I consider Hitchhiker's Guide and HP to be my "comfort books" (versus comfort food) that I can return to at any time to lift my spirits.
— Rachel, 22
9. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Being able to live vicariously thru Harry Crewe as she transforms from awkward misfit to become Harimad-sol (lady warrior) and savior of the Damarians in their battle against their historic enemy the Northerners and along the way wins the respect , love and hand of Corlath the Damar king. I reread this at least every five years since I was 12 and it just gets better with age. What girl/woman reading this doesn't secretly see herself as Harry?
— Kirsten, 52
10. The Phantom Tolbooth by Norton Juster
It always motivates me and makes me realize I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to procrastinating. Plus now that I'm older I can appreciate all of the witty puns.
11. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
I love this book now and have loved it since I was 7 years old and first read it. It reminds me to value imagination and creativity. Also it's really silly.
— Adina, 21
12. The Shining by Stephen King
I love reading/listening to The Shining by Stephen King. It might seem like a weird book that puts me in a good mood, but I'm a horror fanatic and this story is one of my favorites. SK's details to setting and character development are awesome, in my opinion, and I love reading to distract myself when I'm feeling blue.
— Vanesa, 24
13. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I know the ending is sad and Jay is pretty delusional, but it just warms my heart every time. Being delusional isn't a bad thing.
— Amanda, 35
14. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
I've definitely aged out of the young adult genre, but this story of a teen girl who kidnaps an elderly woman with the help of a senior citizen book club in order to reunite her with a long lost love, still makes me smile. What's better than an illicit road trip full of old people on a quest for true love (or all the passages my 15-year-old self highlighted that evidently meant something special to me in my teenage years)?
— Jamie, 23
15. Me and Earl And The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
I loved it because it was hilarious and super creative! I also love the way he dealt with the cancer... it wasn't cheesy or melodramatic. It brought back memories of the time my brother's best friends came to visit him and all they did was be teenagers and mess around. It was exactly what he needed.
— Krista, 22
16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo lived his dreams and found adventure. As he says, "Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea."
— Willa, 50