Some people need to find happiness where they are, while others need to break free and leave what they have behind to find it. There are many definitions of happiness, and of happy endings. Some people would define happiness as a roller coaster of adventure and romance—others as a content stroll through life with the people they care about.
This is a list of 100 books that deal, somehow, with happiness. There’s a huge amount of variation on this list. The non-fiction books about happiness are more straightforward—many of them are self-help books that deal directly with happiness, helping to organize a life around a positive center, while others are memoirs that reflect on mental health and how to make your way towards a successful ending.
The fiction books about happiness vary more wildly. This isn’t a collection of happy books, but of books about happiness, and many of the books there, recommendations from both me and crowdsourced from friends and fellow Rioters, deal with rough topics of mental health, the lack of acceptance, and looking for happiness in all the wrong places. But all of them deal with happiness—whether that means contentment, a journey, satisfaction, or adventure.
Non-Fiction Books About Happiness
- The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. “In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.”
- The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. “Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.”
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō. “With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.”
- Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondō. “Kondo presents an in-depth, illustrated manual on how to declutter and organize specific items throughout the house, from kitchen and bathroom items to work-related papers and hobby collections.”
- 14,000 Things to be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer. “Flannel sheets. Strawberry ice cream…It’s the little things that make life worth living, and they can be found by the dozens in this obsessive, quirky, and utterly captivating compendium with over 950,000 copies in print.”
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. “In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success.”
- A Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets by James Bowen. “The moving, uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship between a man on the streets and the ginger cat who adopts him and helps him heal his life.”
- Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rimes. “In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word.”
- Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham. “Heather Harpham’s first precious moments of happiness with her newborn are shattered when she learns her daughter has a rare blood condition that places her at high risk for brain damage or death.”
- The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search For the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner. “Weiner, admitted grump and self-help book aficionado, undertook a year’s research to travel the globe, looking for the “unheralded happy places.” The result is this book, equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and philosophical, a journey into both the definition of and the destination for true contentment.”
- Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. “Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways—and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?”
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris. “After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.”
- The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky. “Drawing on her own groundbreaking research with thousands of men and women, research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has pioneered a detailed yet easy-to-follow plan to increase happiness in our day-to-day lives-in the short term and over the long term.”
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. “Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.”
- Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen. “Sarah Andersen’s hugely popular, world-famous Sarah’s Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.”
- You’re the Shit: A Totally Inappropriate Self-Affirming Adult Coloring Book by Jen Meyers. “Coloring is relaxing, easy, and fun. But do you know what’s even better? A sassy coloring book that boosts your self-esteem while you color.”
- Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. “These essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong.”
- The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu. “Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.”
- The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler. “Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.”
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. “Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. “Based on the extraordinary final lecture by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, given after he discovered he had pancreatic cancer, this moving book goes beyond the now-famous lecture to inspire readers to live each day with purpose and joy.”
- The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer: 10 Easy Tips for a Happier, Healthier Life by Bertil Marklund. “Swedish doctor Bertil Marklund covers broad ground in this short book, providing a comprehensive guide to lifestyle choices, many of which are inspired by Nordic ideals.”
- The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. “Based on the award-winning 10-million-plus-hit blog 1000awesomethings.com, The Book of Awesome is a high five for humanity and a big celebration of life’s little moments.
- The Art of Asking: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. “Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. The Art of Asking will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.”
- Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. “Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs…With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work.”
- Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter. “In one thrilling photograph after another, Dancers Among Us presents professional dancers from across the country—leaping, spinning, lifting, kicking, while in the midst of daily living.”
- Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. “Ever since Brandon began interviewing people on the streets of NY, the dialogue he’s had with them has increasingly become as in-depth, intriguing and moving as the photos themselves. Humans of New York: Stories presents a whole new group of humans, complete with stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candour.”
- Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit. “With Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable.”
- The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown ed. by Catherine Burns. “From storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages.”
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler. “In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious.”
- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. “Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to.”
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. “With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss—and walk away laughing.”
- 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy by Moorea Seal. “Drawing on happiness research and her own personal philosophy, Moorea Seal creates an inspiring tool for list lovers everywhere to discover the keys to their own unique happiness and bring more joy and balance into their lives.”
- The Tao Te Ching, the Art of Happiness by Lao Tzu. “Written most probably in the sixth century B.C. by Lao Tsu, this esoteric but infinitely practical book has been translated into English more frequently than any other work except the Bible.”
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. “Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.”
Fiction Books About Happiness
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. “Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.”
- Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. “Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.”
- 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. “Davidia Jones, a nerdy child of poverty, is abused by her alcoholic mother and despicable father and is the subject of merciless taunting at her high school. But it’s the “Molly Ringwald Ending” that guides this fragile 15-year-old when she bolts town with a lesbian trucker named Mama Jane and lands a gig as a ’40s-style chanteuse in L.A.”
- Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. Coming out in September, this is a feminist retelling of Snow White, that ultimately tells the story of two young women who must figure out who they are and take ownership of who and what they wish to be.
- When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. “To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable.” This magical realist romance between Miel, who grows roses from her wrist, to Sam, who hangs moons all over town, is a breathtaking coming-of-age.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. “This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.”
- The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. “Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, Scrooge is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warm-hearted, and caring human being in this Christmas classic.”
- The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho. “How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of whom we are? That is the central question of international bestselling author Paulo Coelho’s profound new work, The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well—or hardly at all.”
44. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. “Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids.”
45–51. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, especially Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, deals with metaphoric depictions of depression and fear. Throughout the series, but in particular, its ending, “All was well,” has lessons to teach about what happiness is, and what it isn’t.
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. “With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.”
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. “When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets…Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?”
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. “Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of…Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre.”
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman. “Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different.”
- The Sandman Volume 6: Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman. Fables and Reflections is the sixth collection of issue in the DC Comics series, The Sandman, revolving around Dream and the other Endless. This volume brings together a couple standalone tales that pull from folk and fairy tale.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel. “The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.”
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. “Jane Eyre takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.”
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. “The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years.”
60–62. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. While the focus on the series tends to be on the action exploits of Katniss Everdeen forced into a violent horror show, the series also deals with trauma and what it means to reach a place of calm, and who you reach it with.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. “Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.”
- Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. “The summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees.”
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. “Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harboring an ill-defined longing to break free.”
- 1984 by George Orwell. “Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…”
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. “Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.”
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. In this one-day YA romance, Natasha and Daniel meet, connect, and argue out the role of fate and facts in their lives that seem ruled by forces way out of their control.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. “Everyone’s favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over.”
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. “Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure.”
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. “The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.”
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. “It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.”
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. “Virginia Woolf details Clarissa Dalloway’s preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess, exploring the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman’s life.”
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. “Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common.”
- Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. “Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset.”
76–77. Binti and Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. “Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.”
- No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay. “Both fresh and wise, Kay’s poetry allows readers to join in on her journey of discovering herself and the world around her. It’s an honest and powerful collection.”
- The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent, from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city, to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.”
- The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. “A couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.”
- Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. “Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere…else. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.”
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect.”
- Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami. “The plot centers on the narrator’s brief but intense obsession with pinball, his life as a freelance translator, and his later efforts to reunite with the old pinball machine that he used to play.”
- Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss. Coming out in September, Krauss’s newest intertwines the stories of two Jews returning to Israel, seeking an ephemeral something that they haven’t been able to find elsewhere.
- Matilda by Roald Dahl. “Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back.”
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. “After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen.”
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. “Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children—Wendy, John, and Michael—who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks.”
- The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. “On the very morning Willie Upton slinks home to Templeton, New York (after a calamitous affair with her archeology professor), the 50-foot-long body of a monster floats from the depths of the town’s lake.”
- A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. “In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.”
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. “When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds…”
- Middlemarch by George Eliot. “Eliot creates and portrays a whole community—tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry—in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader’s sympathy and imagination.”
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. “milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.”
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. “In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.”
- The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by F.T. Lukens. “Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job—entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time—but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by…mermaids?”
- See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. “11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer…From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.”
- When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. “Williams’s mother was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.”
- Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book by Jomny Sun. “The illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to observe Earth, where he meets all sorts of creatures with all sorts of perspectives on life, love, and happiness, while learning to feel a little better about himself—based on the enormously popular Twitter account.”
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. “Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.”
- Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. “Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly.”
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. “Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow.”
What are your favorite books about happiness? Find even more of our must-read book recommendations here.