Another year of pandemic life is almost in the books – and once again we needed reassuring readings to get through it. Some of these titles are funny; others made us cry happy tears. All were tonics in a difficult, uncertain time. Here are 13 of the best feel-good readings of the year.
“good eggs“, by Rebecca Hardiman
An 83-year-old woman’s fireworks display can’t stop shoplifting, so her son hires a caretaker to monitor her – and gets more than he expected. Such is the premise of Hardiman’s debut novel, which centers on three generations of a noisy Irish family where a lot is happening. There is joy, dysfunction and ultimately heartfelt chances.
“Eight perfect hours, ”By Lia Louis
Depending on your reading speed, “Eight Perfect Hours” may also describe the time you spend on this novel. It’s about Noelle getting stuck on the road in a snowstorm with no food, drink or phone charger – but wait, who’s the handsome man knocking on her window? Not that you think it sounds like the start of a horror story, it’s a gripping rom-com about two strangers and the power of fate.
“Piglet: The unexpected story of a deaf, blind, pink puppy and his family, ”By Melissa Shapiro and Mim Eichler Rivas
Piglet is a superstar on social media. But before that, he was a two-pound deaf, blind puppy without a home. Shapiro, a veterinarian, welcomed him and fell in love. This sweet story describes Piglet’s transformation from a traumatized, anxious puppy to a confident, lively pink dog and his adventures with his new family.
“Road Trip“, by Beth O’Leary
Addie and her sister – a lovely couple – are on a road trip to a wedding when a car crashes into the back of theirs. It is occupied by Addie’s ex, Dylan, who is on her way to the same place and will soon be sitting in the sisters’ back seat, on the trip. The next 300 miles are fun, awkward, frustrating and utterly charming. O’Leary’s latest is an entertaining and quirky room-com.
“When sharks attack with kindness, ”By Andrés J. Colmenares
Nantucket is the reader’s paradise, says the local bookstore
Colmenares describes his popular Instagram comics as “a great visual hug that tickles you at the same time,” and this hardcover collection delivers the same. It’s about sharks – seemingly predators, but in Colmenares’ world cute creatures that only strike with kindness and positivity. Prepare to smile a lot, as wide as the friendly finned fish.
“The comfort book“, by Matt Haig
Do you ever wish your future self could come in and assure you that everything will be okay? Haig’s book is exactly that kind of tonic. For years he wrote notes for himself, which he intended to read in dark times; “The Comfort Book” is a collection of these short meditations. It is a validating and hopeful gift.
“Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen: A novel about Victorian cooking and friendship“, by Annabel Abbs
Step directly into a Victorian kitchen in Abbs’ new novel, which is based on the life of Eliza Acton, one of the first modern cookbook authors. In this retelling, Eliza – who wants to be a poet – is convinced to learn to cook instead. She discovers that she loves it, and she and her assistant develop a unique partnership as they evolve as people and chefs.
“Little Pieces of Hope: Happy-Making Things in a Difficult World“, by Todd Doughty
The day the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, Doughty made a list of the things that made him happy: the music that opens “All Things Considered,” a juicy burger, yellow tulips. This happy book contains lists, essays, playlists and quotes that revolve back to the central idea: finding the good in even the darkest of circumstances. Keep it on your bedside table and read a few pages each day.
“Lennis and Margot’s hundred years“, by Marianne Cronin
Lenni, an terminally ill 17-year-old, meets Margot, who is 83 and struggling with her own near end. After realizing that their ages sum up to 100, the two set out to create 100 paintings that represent their combined century of life. While, yes, there is a deadly disease at the center of the novel, it is a beautiful, tender ode to friendship, love, and our chosen legacy.
“Party Crasher“, by Sophie Kinsella
After Effie’s parents get divorced, her father returns with a significantly younger woman who picks up money. Then Effie’s childhood home, Greenoaks, is put up for sale. She sneaks into the “house-cooling” farewell party to retrieve her beloved Russian dolls, and while hiding under tables and looking through doors, she makes a kaleidoscope of discoveries. It’s a lovely read, full of Kinsella’s distinctive warmth and charm.
“Stop following your passion, ”By Terri Trespicio (forthcoming December 21)
Finally, here it is: Permission to drop everything. Trespicio helps us reevaluate what society has taught us we need, such as passion and plans and a bucket list. It is quite liberating to realize that there is more than one way of living a life that matters and that you can do it without leaving your comfort zone.
“Carla and the Christmas cornbread“by Carla Hall
This children’s book by Hall is almost as comforting as digging into one of the chef’s famous dishes. It draws on an event from her youth: On Christmas Eve, Little Carla eats a sugar cookie meant for Santa and then gets her grandmother to correct the wrong thing. Expect a cozy holiday reading and a craving for homemade cornbread.
“Bliss: Beaches“, by Randall Kaplan
If you are starving on the beach, Kaplan’s beautiful collection will help fill some of that void. Expect stunning coastal views of California, Hawaii, French Polynesia and many other places. Flipping through it is almost as good as meditating on a real beach – and who knows? Maybe you will soon.
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