No matter how much of an upbeat optimist you are, you're bound to have those days where the glass will look half empty from every angle. Luckily for you, there are plenty of books to read when you want to improve your mood. From humorous essay collections to uplifting novels, the secret to happiness can be found on your bookshelf.
When you're feeling low, it's hard to get yourself out of a funky mood. Sure, you can try pigging out on comfort food, binge-watching old episodes of Parks and Recreation, or even — gasp — exercising to increase your endorphins, but when the tried-and-true methods aren't working, it's time to turn to the place that has all of life's answers: the library.
Tucked away among the classic literature, murder mysteries, and sci-fi adventures, there are the perfectly packaged books that have all the right ingredients to cheer you up, no matter how down in the dumps you may feel. Featuring touching narratives, hilariously stories, and inspirational heroes and heroines, these are the kinds of books that can pull you out of your funk and shine light on even the darkest of times.
Ready to turn your frown upside down? Then check out one of these 11 books you can read when you want to improve your mood.
'It's Absolutely Fine' by Ruby Elliot
Too down to read all those words? Ruby Elliot's illustrated book is just what the doctor ordered, then. An honest but humorous look at mental illness, adulthood, and the ups and downs of everyday life, It's All Absolutely Fine will have readers laughing, crying, and hollering "YAS!" on every page. Though it deals with some pretty heavy subjects — anxiety, depression, body image issues — Elliot's graphic memoir inspires, entertains, and uplifts anyone who spends some time with it.
'Would Everybody Please Stop?: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas' by Jenny Allen
Another relatable book from one of the funniest modern essayists, Jenny Allen's Would Everybody Please Stop? is a laugh-out-loud romp through some of life's most intriguing questions. Covering everything from the struggles of motherhood and womanhood to the contradiction of fat-free half-and-half and the pretension of words like "iteration," this collection is overflowing with humor, sarcasm, and, most importantly, heart. A truly funny read, keep this collection of 35 short essays close by for whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.
3'Rich People Problems' by Kevin Kwan
Get ready to turn your frown upside down, because Kevin Kwan is back with another laugh-out-loud family story, Rich People Problems. When the family matriarch, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, members of the Shang-Young clan are quick to rush to her side, but not because they want to comfort her. It's because they all want a piece of her inheritance, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Cue fights, back-stabbing, sabotage, and plenty of drama, the perfect combination to distract you from whatever is bothering you IRL.
'Rabbit Cake' by Annie Hartnett
A charming debut that will make you forget your worries, Annie Hartnett's Rabbit Cake has the kind of heroine who can't help but make you smile. Smart to a fault, Elvis Babbitt, the queen of facts, knows everything there is to know about the world — everything, that is, except the truth about her own family. Following the drowning-by-sleepwalking death of her mother, she is forced to confront all she doesn't know, finding out along the way that she doesn't know as much as she'd like. A book about grief that manages to be a lot funnier than it is depressing, Rabbit Cake is a sweet and beautiful coming-of-age novel that can help improve any reader's mood
'You Don't Look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales' by Sheila Nevins
When you're feeling down, you want more than a shoulder to cry on. You want a confidante, a companion, a bestie who can say, Girl, I feel you! and mean it. You want You Don't look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales, Sheila Nevins's frank and funny collection about being a woman. Featuring relatable essays about being a woman in the workplace, the ugly (and not so ugly) truth romantic relationships, and modern feminism, this is the kind of book that lets you know a crucial but often forgotten fact of life: shit happens, and that's okay.
'No One Can Pronounce My Name' by Rakesh Satyal
When you feel like an outsider, improving your mood isn't always easy. When you don't feel so alone, it is, which is what makes Rakesh Satyal's No One Can Pronounce My Name the perfect read when you need to boost your mood. A warm and funny novel about a community of Indian Americans living in the suburbs outside of Chicago, it chronicles the blossoming friendship of two immigrants, Harit and Ranjana, whose lives are forever changed by their unexpected relationship. A heartfelt novel about hope, compassion, love, and identity, No One Can Pronounce My Name will leave you with a warm and tingling feeling in your chest.
'We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays' by Samantha Irby
If just looking at the adorable cover of this book isn't enough to improve your mood, the uproarious essays inside certainly will. From blogger Samantha Irby, creator of the Bitches Gotta Eat, comes We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a relatable collection of comical essays about adult problems readers will know all too well IRL. Self-deprecating while remaining heartfelt, this instant bestseller will instantly cheer you up.
'Amanda Wakes Up' by Alisyn Camerota
Sometimes, the best way to improve your mood is by getting out of your own jumbled head and into somebody else's messy life. Alisyn Camerota's Amanda Wakes Up lets you do just that by pulling you head-first into the world of Amanda Gallo, an aspiring TV personality who just landed her dream job as a morning anchor on a prestigious network. Finally feeling like she has control of her professional and personal life, Amanda is riding high — but not for long, because with election season heating up, she is forced to make difficult choices about her dream, her future, and the kind of journalist she really wants to be. An entertaining read starring a heroine you'll want to root for, Amanda Wakes Up is a truly hilarious romp through the news world that will make real-life politics and media relations seem simple.
'Fitness Junkie' by Lucy Sykes
I know what you're thinking: a book about fitness to improve your mood? Yeah right! But Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza's Fitness Junkie isn't a workout guide, it's a hilarious fictitious deep-dive into the very real, very bizarre health and wellness industry. Janey Sweet is the successful CEO of a wedding dress company, but when the media starts to share embarrassing pictures of her eating, Janey's weight becomes all anyone can talk about. To protect her image, and her company, Janey tries everything to lose weight, from expensive and exclusive workouts to outrageous fad diets and all the insane but inspired-by-real-life fitness trends in between. A biting but ultimately inspiring look at our body-image obsessed culture, Fitness Junkie will leave readers feeling beautiful at every size.
'This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare' by Gabourey Sidibe
Summer is the perfect time to read celebrity memoirs, especially if you're in need of a mood booster. Filled with juicy Hollywood drama, gossip, and behind-the-scenes stories about the stars, they can serve as fun distractions from real life. But Gabourey Sidibe's memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, does so much more than that: it also inspires, uplifts, and and resonates with readers still fighting to make their own dreams come true. Honest, humorous, and heartfelt, it tracks Sidibe's stunning and unconventional rise to the top and serves as an empowering example of the incredible levels of success women, especially black women, are capable of achieving.
'Not Quite a Genius' by Nate Dern
Open up any page of Nate Dern absurd collection of essays, stories, and sketches, and you're almost guaranteed to find something that will make you smile. Not Quite a Genius invites readers into the mind of Funny or Die senior writer and former Upright Citizens Brigade Theater artistic director, where the world is the kind of place where Walt Whitman teaches spin class and old toothbrushes have strong opinions about their owner's diet. A light and comical book that doesn't require deep thinking to enjoy, Not Quite a Genius will give you the belly laugh you need to forget your troubles and find your happy place.