There’s nothing like losing yourself in a good book, and while we all have our favorite genres, reading a book with an upbeat, positive story line can help us get away, at least mentally, from some of the world’s stressors right now. Kicking back and relaxing with fun, heartfelt tales that make us laugh (or cry!) can provide a welcome respite, as well as easing anxiety and stress. And reading isn’t just a way to pass the time, it’s also good for brain function, helps with relaxation and can promote more restful sleep. 

If you’re looking for a mood-lifter and an escape from the daily grind, these feel-good books are a great addition to any reading list:

The Rules of Magic

By Alice Hoffman

Anyone who is a fan of the book and subsequent movie, Practical Magic, is bound to be bewitched by Hoffman’s prequel, The Rules of Magic. Taking us back to the early years of the Owens family, whose history with witchcraft dates back to the 1600’s, this is the story of young sisters Franny and Jet Owens. Their mother, Susanna, tries to keep her children safe by denying their legacy, but the two girls cannot avoid their future or their fate. A truly “magical” tale full of love and hope, this book will leave you smiling through your tears.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

Those of us who love animals know that they are capable of thoughts and emotions. In The Art of Racing in the Rain, author Garth Stein shows us just how much we can learn from our furry friends. The story is told through the eyes of Enzo, a dog with the heart of a philosopher and the soul of a dreamer, who belongs to a young family. As they struggle through incredible loss, Enzo’s loyalty and devotion serves as a true guiding light. The book was recently adapted into a movie, and was released by 20th Century Fox in 2019.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman

This New York Times bestseller tells the story of Eleanor Oliphant, an eccentric woman whose carefully ordered life is upended when she meets Raymond, her office’s IT guy. When she and Raymond help an elderly man, the three form a friendship and bond that leads Eleanor to seek healing for her own damaged heart. Funny, quirky and entertaining, with equal parts laugh out loud and cry out loud moments.

The Giver of Stars

By Jojo Moyes

Bestselling author Jojo Moyes knocks it out of the park again with her 2019 novel, The Giver of Stars. A fictionalized accounting of true events, Moyes takes us on a journey with the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, a group of women who delivered books to rural areas in the 1930’s and 40’s. The main character, Alice Wright, gets married and moves to America to escape her life in England, only to find that Kentucky isn’t what she thought it would be. When she is offered the opportunity to join Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library, she jumps at it, sending her on an adventure that brings challenges, but also friendship and love.

The Wangs vs. The World

By Jade Chang

In Jade Chang’s hilarious debut novel, we meet the once-wealthy Wang family, as the father, Charles, decides to move everyone across the country when they fall on hard times. Leaving behind Bel-Air and all the trappings of money, they make their way to their eldest daughter’s home in Upstate New York in the hopes of a new beginning. As they travel across the country, they discover that despite losing it all, they might still have everything that matters.

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About Jody Ellis

Jody Ellis is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, health, travel, fashion and social justice. She is currently part of a fellowship with Community Change, a non-profit focused on writing about social policies that impact low-income families. Her work has appeared in publications such as LennyLetter, Huffington Post, BBC Future Planet, Civil Eats and Eater.

View all posts by Jody Ellis

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