As the first week back to work after the holiday season ticks by, I'm struck: the next big holiday weekend isn't until Memorial Day. In May. Until then, it's just gray. The weather, the sky... my mood. The holiday season is the happiest, brightest time of year. Christmas is full of light, bright shiny ribbons, and the excitement of picking out the perfect gifts for the people you love. New Year's Eve is full of promise and reflection: looking back on the ups and downs of the year, and looking forward to the new year and all it can hold for you. The possibilities are endless.
Until, of course, January gets going in full swing. With snow falling this week, and the Christmas trees limp and dreary on the sidewalk, winter seems like it may just never end. One of the best ways to keep your mood up (short of buying one of those sun lamps to trick your brain into thinking it's actual sun) is getting lost in a great book.
Whether you spend a long Sunday morning in bed catching up on all of the great books you've been meaning to read, or listening to an audiobook on your commute to work, here are 13 titles sure to lift your mood from its post-holiday season gloom.
To Make You Laugh
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is killing it everyday between her show The Mindy Project, being hilarious on Twitter, and being a fashion inspiration to us all on Instagram. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is as funny as you would hope, while still making you feel like you're getting to her as a "real" person. It's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face despite the bleak weather around you!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The holidays are great because you get to go home and reunite with your friends and family. Once that's over though, what better way to conjure up that familiar childhood feeling than reading a childhood classic? Harry Potter is the perfect book to do just that, and winter offers the most time to delve back into the home we all not so secretly wish we could go home to: Hogwarts.
To Make You Smile
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
"No man is an island, every book is a world." So reads the sign of bookseller A.J. Fikry's book store, Island Books. A.J. is a grumpy, lonely man after the death of his wife, and his life is turned upside down by the appearance of a baby left in his store one night. A quick read perfect for curling up with on a winter night, the story of A.J. and Maya is heartwarming and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
To Keep You Inspired
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Reading Cheryl Strayed's writing is like talking to an old friend. The friend you can go to with any problem and they seem to know just the thing to say, even if they can't solve all the problems. In Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed gives advice on any and all subjects, many of which were originally published on The Rumpus. "Dear Sugar" is the perfect source of inspiration and insight to all of the questions you didn't know you had, and push you to keep all the resolutions you've made.
To Make You Thankful For Your Own Quirky Family
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Recently made into a film, Jonathan Tropper's hysterical novel This is Where I Leave You, will not only have you laughing the whole way through the book, but will make you extra thankful for your own family, quirks and all. Coming off the holiday season, you might be ready for some peace and quiet, but Judd Foxman and his clan of misfits might make you look forward to the next one.
To Make You Forget All About the Cold Weather
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Sure, the cold might be bothering you, but A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki will make you completely forget about it. The story is so intricately written, and the characters are so real, you'll lose entire days reading about them. Nao is a time being in Japan writing the story of her anarchist, feminist, Buddhist priest great grandmother, Old Jiko. Ruth is the writer who finds Nao's story. You can be the reader who become completely drawn in to this Man Booker Award-winning book.
To Make You Want to Get Up and Go
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is great no matter what he's talking about, but his memoir on running and writing is something that will get even the laziest of us out of bed and onto the road. Endorphins are the best way to beat the winter blues!
To Help You Catch the Travel Bug
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Billy Bryson does it with A Walk in the Woods, Cheryl Strayed did it with Wild, both are guaranteed to give you the itch to just get away. Reading about travelling and hiking will be just the inspiration you need to start planning that trip you've always wanted to take yourself.
To Remind You That Happy Endings are Possible
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
When I think of books that are just all around good stories, and are guaranteed to lift a mood, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the first one to come to mind. It's a love story, not just in the romantic sense, but a love story with books and reading, and one that is sure to have you turning the pages as fast as the snow is likely to fall.
To Let You Know You're Not Alone
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones has proved herself to be timeless. She is the original struggling single woman, trying to make her way in the world with her friends. Plus, it's a fun spin on Pride and Prejudice. Sit back with a glass of wine and let Bridget's antics make you laugh away the winter gloom. Who needs boys when you have Bridget?
To Remind Yourself That Anything is Possible
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Allan Karlsson turns 100 years old, and decides it's about time to start over. This uplifting story will make you want to make the most of the long winter. Make plans, make changes, improve yourself in even the smallest way. There is a little bit of Allan in all of us.
To Make Anyone an Animal Person
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Is there anything happier than a cat making other people happy? People with books? No, there isn't, and there's nothing better to lighten a mood than a book about a happy cat.
To Make Yourself Happier All Year Long
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin made a promise to herself to improve her life and her own personal happiness over the course of the year, and The Happiness Project chronicles that effort. The title alone let's on how inspiring it is, but actually reading it will lift you mood and having reaching for a pen to make some plans of your own!