5 uplifting reads

5-books-200pixAs we near the end of 2016 I can already hear the collective rubbing of hands from across the world as people prepare to say goodbye to what, quite frankly, has been a terribly distressing year.

So many cultural icons have died (David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen et al), the gulf between the super-rich and the rest of us has got ever wider, migrants and refugees are drowning in ever-greater numbers as they cross the Mediterranean, the war in Syria has got worse, post-truth politics has gripped the west and I dare not mention Brexit or the fact that Donald Trump has been elected as the next President of the United States.

So, in these rather dark and troubling times it’s refreshing to be able to escape into a good book. While my literary tastes are relatively dark, every now and then I read a novel that could best be described as happy or uplifting.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite novels that put the human race in a positive light and show the redemptive power of kindness, generosity of spirit, tolerance and benevolence. The books have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s name — click the title to see my full review:

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

‘Lost & Found’ by Brooke Davis (2015)
A rather delightful story about a young girl who loses her mother in a department store and then goes on a long cross-country adventure with two elderly people to find her. It’s quirky but big-hearted, and the way it explores the twin themes of loneliness and grief without being schmaltzy or sentimental makes it a fun and rewarding read.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

‘Plainsong’ by Kent Haruf (1999)
This is a beautiful, sincere story about a wide cast of characters leading complicated, messy lives. By examining the ties that bind people and communities together, it shows that our lives are made all the richer by putting others before ourselves. My favourite read in 2014; nothing’s really surpassed it since.

Miss Garnet's Angel

‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’ by Salley Vickers (2005)
Set largely in Venice with a lonely spinster at its heart, this is an inspirational story about second chances and living life to the full when you’ve always lived life in the shadows. Art, religion and grief combine to show that emotions — and our ability to express and experience them — are what makes us truly human.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ by Winifred Watson (1938)
An enchanting mid-century take on Cinderella, this book is another one about second chances and the fact that you are never too old, too poor or from the wrong class to pursue them.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion (2013)
This unconventional story about an unconventional man looking for love is a charming read about being yourself and never giving up on your dreams. It’s often laugh out loud funny, too.

Have you read any of these books? Or can you recommend other happy and uplifting reads?

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32 thoughts on “5 uplifting reads

  1. An uplifting book? Now there’s a thought. 🙂 I’ve got a copy of the omnibus edition of ‘The Darling Buds in May’ to fall back on when I need a light-hearted read—I may read it soon.

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    • Oh, do read Miss Garnet’s Angel. It’s such a gorgeous tale. Mind you, I’m a tad obsessed with Venice having visited it 4 times so that may partly explain why I love this book so much.

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  2. I’m so glad to see Plainsong on this list—it’s one of my favourite books ever, too! Eventide and Benediction are also good, but Plainsong is the best—those farming brothers have to be two of the most gentle souls ever.
    Two other favourite books of all time (not including the classics) are Ann Patchett’s ‘Bel Canto’ and Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘The Remains of the Day’. Unsurpassable. I don’t know that they’re uplifting, but they change you.
    Thanks for this wonderful list.

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  3. Oh I loved The Rosie Project… really made me laugh. Have the sequel but almost scared to read incase not as good. PLainsong catching my eye…Miss Pettigrew often sighs at me from the TBR so I really should get round to her asap 😉

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  4. I’ve read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day after reading Jacqui’s review. Glad it’s on the list, what a delightful reading time.
    I’ll add others on the TBR for moments when I want an easy & uplifting read.

    I also suggest Toni Jordan’s books and for you, Rendezvous in Venice by Philippe Beaussant, if you haven’t read them yet. (billets on my blog and reviews at Lisa’s and Jacqui’s)

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  5. I’ve read Miss Pettigrew – that is such a sweet and funny book. I recommend Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Low Life. It’s about a rat who lives in a second hand bookshop and learns to read. Having worked in a few bookshops with mouse problems (fortunately not rats) it is a book close to my heart!

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  6. I love this post! I read ‘I’ll Give You the Stars’ this year and I loved it. I don’t normally read YA, but I found it so uplifting and true to how I remember being a teenager that it’s made me much more receptive to that genre.

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    • I’m not familiar with ‘I’ll Give you the Stars’ but am always happy to hear new recommendations for uplfiting books. I don’t tend to read YA unless a particular title has been recommended to me or I’ve read a lot of good reviews. I think the last YA I read was ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart, which I really enjoyed. And you can’t go past ‘Wonder’ by R. J. Palacio, which I should have included in this list.

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  7. Miss Pettigrew and there are other Persphones that are equally comforting and uplifting, too; I like a nice Dorothy Whipple. If I need comfort reading, I often go to Georgette Heyer or the old children’s classics, I have to say. So it’s nice to see a more modern list, too!

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  8. Pingback: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson | Book Around The Corner

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