Happy, Uplifting Books to Laugh Away the Doldrums

Happy uplifting books, laughter, funny books, funny reads, joy, comedy, gail carrier, guernsey literary and potato peel pie society, rosie project, agatha christie

As you may know from some of the hints I’ve been giving out, 2015 wasn’t the easiest year for me. There were a lot of dark times, a lot of waiting in the hospital for a loved one, and a lot of times where you don’t even dare to hope for good news anymore, times where all you can do is sit and wait out the darkness of the night.

And wait. And wait. and wait.

Now I can’t tell you what an enormous comfort my Kindle was for me during those long hours of waiting. Reading is a form of escape for me, and even more so when things start to get really, really tough. But then I found I was reading a lot of really beautiful, but really sad books. And it definitely wasn’t the best thing for me particularly in my current state of mind. One day I found I desperately needed some humour and laughter and lightheartedness, a form of escapism that wasn’t just all themes of isolation and winter and loneliness and despair (Southern Reach books, I’m looking at you here).

So I started Googling ‘uplifting, happy books’. And, let’s face it, on the whole there are an awful lot of sad, dark, depressing books out there. After all, every book has to have its dark moments – how else do the protagonists go on a journey where they’re supposed to change and mature and develop if they don’t hit a few obstacles and struggle through a few Valleys of Despair?

 However, I managed to compile a fairly good list of books guaranteed to lift anyone’s mood if they’re feeling sad, depressed or stuck in a rut. Some of them may have well saved my sanity. And if you’ve been undergoing a tough time lately or if you’ve just had a particularly bad day, I highly recommend having an early night in, turning off the TV and all your social media accounts, pulling together a good meal and snuggling on the couch with one of these books. They’re guaranteed to lift your spirits, laugh out loud and generally make you feel more hopeful about the world.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This book was the first thing I bought when I started researching cheerful reads, mainly because it was so hotly recommended on everyone’s list of feel-good, uplifting books – and right from the very first page, I can see exactly why. Written in a light, breezy, epistolary style, this is the heart-warming story of Juliet, a thirty-something-year-old writer who, shortly after the end of WWII, begins a correspondence with a group of people known as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. If there was ever a book that was the equivalent of fresh baked apple pie, hot tea, and a warm comforting hug, this book is it. It will make you laugh, make your heart melt, and make you very hopeful about the world. One of my favourite parts in the book? The parts revolving around a set of valuable and heartwarming letters written by one very famous, notorious author with a particularly unusual but recognisable name.

 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I was a bit doubtful about this book at first, but it was another title that came highly recommended on Goodreads as a feel-good book. Young English orphan Flora Poste is left to make her way in the world with a mere income of a hundred pounds a year. Instead of taking her good friend Mrs Smiling’s advice to train for a job and live in London, Flora decides instead to head to her relatives, the rather Gothic and supposedly curse-ridden Starkadder family at the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm. However, Flora remains undaunted by her relations and you’ll soon find yourself laughing and cheering for her as she cuts through her relations’ doom-and-gloom attitudes with her common sense and good humour and sets about briskly arranging everyone’s lives for the better. Stella Gibbons first wrote the book as a parody of the popular English rural melodrama and you really can’t help but think that if Flora had gone to live at Wuthering Heights, she would have ‘fixed’ everyone there and it would have been an entirely different book.

 

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

This is probably my number one favourite book by L.M. Montgomery, and for good reason. A word of warning – it does start off on a particularly depressing note with the heroine, Valancy Stirling, looking back on her life as an unhappy, spiritless old maid who had always been bullied and mocked by her dominating family. However, when Valancy finds out she has only a year to live, she decides to throw off her mantle of meekness and live – really live – for the first time her life. She stands up to her relatives with great spirit and wit, leaves her mother’s home to care for a sick friend, and sets about finding love and paradise on earth in her long dreamed-about ‘Blue Castle.’

 

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie.

The Man in the Brown Suit is arguable the Queen of Crime’s funniest book! Anne Beddingfield is yet another young penniless orphan left to make her way in the world after the death of her rather absent-minded archeologist father. But like Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm, Anne isn’t about to mourn her losses or settle for a life of drudgery, earning her living as a ‘mother’s help.’ Instead, she sets out for high adventure and ends up on a cruise liner bound for Africa while on the trail of a murderer with only 30 pounds in her pocket. Anne is plucky, optimistic and high-spirited, and readers will end up falling in love with her as she recounts her trials and travails with a humorous wit that will send you into gales of laughter. Note: one of the highlights of the book are undoubtedly the hilarious journal entries of Anne’s fellow shipmate, the seemingly hapless and incorrigible Sir Eustace Peddler.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I’ve already written a brief review of The Rosie Project here so I won’t say much more except 1) this is a charming, heartwarming story of a genetics professor with Aspergers Syndrome who sets out to find the Perfect Wife armed with a strict 16-page questionnaire, only to find out that finding true love just doesn’t work that way, and 2) this book may leave you with a serious craving for lobster salad.

 

Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan (and the rest of the Countess Ashby de la Zouche series)

It was only pure chance that drew me to this book as I was haunting the shelves of my local library, looking for a new read, and I am so, so, so glad fate threw us together. Unnatural Fire is the first in a series of books set in 17th century England, featuring the Countess Ashby de la Zouche and her big-bosomed maidservant Alpiew. Faced with poverty, debt and the threat of jail time, the countess and her maid turn to reporting for a scandal sheet only to end up becoming the funniest, most unlikely pair of detectives as they hunt down a philandering husband, a case that leads to them becoming entangled with murder and alchemy.

 

Unnatural Fire was such a funny, entertaining, page-turning read that I immediately set about obtaining the next three books in the series where the Countess and Alpiew continue their detective work while constantly tumbling into all manner of scraps. The books gave an amazing and accurate feel for late 17th-century England, and the only thing they’ll make you feel sad about is the fact that there are only four books in the series. Fidelis Morgan has confirmed she has four more books planned for the Countess ADLZ and Alpiew, but her publisher cancelled the series (are they insane!?!?!) and all I can say is anytime you publish those books, Ms Morgan, I will certainly be pulling out my wallet.

 

The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger

If you’re a fan of steampunk, Victorian England, werewolves, vampires, tea and rolling-on-your-floor-laugh-out-loud-funny books, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series is for you. Alexia Tarabotti is a feisty, well-mannered Victorian spinster who was born without a soul and thus is able to negate the powers of any werewolf or vampire who comes into contact with her. But when she is rudely attacked by a vampire (to whom she has not even been properly introduced!) and forced to kill said vampire, things are about to get messy for Alexia. And the one thing she can’t abide is mess. And bad tea.

 

Happy Reading!

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