It’s Grace today, here in the midst of midterms and a bit of chaos. As a whole, I’m an optimist, but I’m guilty of letting little things pile up when I’m having a rough go. Although I have a lot of blessings, the beginning of October hasn’t been the easiest. The skies have been gray, the work has been hard, and some things have just frankly not gone my way. So I wanted to put together a happy list of books that always pick me up when I’m a little down. I hope these can put a smile on your face if you’re in the same slump I am!
I wrote another post like this in April 2017 when I was also dying a little bit, but here are some updated picks and reminders.
Novel: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills | Goodreads
Release Date: December 5, 2017
A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.
Emma Mills is a go-to author because she writes feel-good books. These aren’t to be confused with fluffy books in which characters act against human instinct in order to further the plot. Her characters are real, flawed, and wonderful people who just happen to get themselves into tough situations. Furthermore, the heroes are all KIND. Something about the blend of humor, romance, and wholesome voice just sticks with me, and reminds me of the type of person I’d like to be. Plus, they’re entertaining and phenomenal reads! Her books feel so full.
Novel: You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein | Goodreads
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER! YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT hilariously, and candidly, explores the journey of the twenty-first century woman.
As both a tomboy and a late bloomer, comedian Jessi Klein grew up feeling more like an outsider than a participant in the rites of modern femininity.
In YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT, Klein offers – through an incisive collection of real-life stories – a relentlessly funny yet poignant take on a variety of topics she has experienced along her strange journey to womanhood and beyond. These include her “transformation from Pippi Longstocking-esque tomboy to are-you-a-lesbian-or-what tom man,” attempting to find watchable porn, and identifying the difference between being called “ma’am” and “miss” (“Miss” sounds like you weigh ninety-nine pounds).
Raw, relatable, and consistently hilarious, YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT is a one-of-a-kind book by a singular and irresistible comic voice.
I’m terrible at seeking out laughter for myself. I don’t know what strains of humor I find funny unless I hear them — just under the vague umbrella of “clever” — and normally just rely on others to tell me which stand up comics I’ll like. I picked up Jessi Klein’s book on a whim, despite having not-so-great luck with comedians’ books, and found myself head over heels. I wasn’t expecting the powerful mix of hilarity and truth. She knows when to dig deeper, to acknowledge dark subjects, while still keeping an upbeat and thoroughly enjoyable tone. Huge fan of the range of topics and the grace in which she handles them. I recommended this book to pretty much every person I knew last year.
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.
Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.
I actually read Saving Francesca this year and wrote about it in my mid year favorites post this summer. I put it off for a while because I knew that a Marchetta book would possibly wreck me. Jellicoe Road is one of my favorites. There are lines in it that speak to the plain loneliness of certain situations and also to the enduring spirit of Francesca in the face of a lot of hardships. It’s coming-of-age at its finest and most resilient. And it’s a lovely read, truly.
“Why do I feel as if something’s missing in my life without them and they don’t feel the same about me? That doesn’t make them bad, does it?”
Novel: Letters from Rapunzel by Sarah Lewis Holmes | Goodreads
Release Date: March 1, 2007
Once upon a time, there was a girl. Let’s call her Rapunzel. A modern-day version. Abandoned. Alone. Waiting for her hair to grow and dreaming of a way to escape from her tower. She was trapped, you see. Not in the conventional fairy-tale way–this was the dreaded after-school Homework Club. A desolate place, where no gum could be chewed, and where Rapunzel sat day after day, cursing the evil spell that had been cast over her father. The doctors called it something else, but a true heroine can smell an evil spell a mile away. So when a mysterious letter addressed to P.O. Box #5667 falls into her hands, she knows she’s found the pea under her mattress. But since when is finding happily ever after as simple as Just Writing Back?
Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest, Sara Lewis Holmes’s enchanting debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Told through letters, with a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust, Rapunzel’s quest for a happy ending gives every reader something to believe in.
I am obviously a huge fan of kids’ books. I believe in their enduring helpfulness, even as an (almost) adult. They have a way of boiling things down and not overthinking, and also, they can hit you at exactly the right time. I read this book when I was in 4th grade and still filching it from my class’s library — before finally buying my own copy. I’ve lost the dust jacket and certain pages are warped from having read it in the bathtub growing up. It’s a book with memories. It’s imaginative and sweet without being cloying.
It somehow nails particular struggles that you feel when you’re young, and the ways you find comfort in other things. (And I find a lot of comfort in it whenever I’m feeling down and need to be centered again.) If you’re having a tough time, read a book you loved as a kid.
raw and heart-wrenching poetry, often sparse enough to be unaffected and not corny (but still vivid)
laugh-until-you-cry funny with some real truths about rough times
sobering: reminds us what we’re here for, and how to live meaningful lives (even when it feels like you don’t have your shit together!)
a fun and giddy daydream of a read, but with a grounded main character who keeps her cool in a way that’s enormously refreshing for a ‘beach read’
What books do y’all go to when you’re in a funk?