Good books for bad moods. ‹ Literary Center

Aug 8, 2022 at 11:23 am

It seems like we’re all in a bad mood these days. Eventually the planet burns, democracy crumbles, everyone turns to video (again). Can a book make you feel better? Maybe, maybe not – but it can at least help you bridge the time until you fall asleep. So what to read?

Scared: WG Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

Just take a nice long walk with this weird guy and be blown away by what he says.

Bored: Franz Ross, oreos

Love it or hate it (and you won’t hate it), it’s impossible to get bored reading this novel, which, among other things, actually manages to be funny (and brilliant and unrelentingly weird) about race.

Depressed: Chandler Klang Smith, Heaven is yours

Don’t wallow. Don’t read Jean Rhys. Instead, read a great, absurdist Technicolor novel so damn funny and wacky you can’t help but be blown right out of the doldrums. You know, by dragons.

disengaged: Maria Robison, Why did I ever?

No matter what’s going on, you should be able to bring yourself to read a single short paragraph—and get sucked in, right? And in this case, one thing probably leads to the next. You’ll be hooked before you know it.

Broken heart: Iris Murdoch, The sea, the sea

Think of it as a guide to what not to do, no matter what, no matter how bad you feel.

Envious: Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

A gentle(?) reminder that you have no idea what’s going on inside other people – even the people closest to you.

Lonely: Rabih Alameddine, An unnecessary woman

You can’t really be lonely when you have a book, especially when the book introduces you to a woman like Aaliya Saleh – lonely herself, although she wouldn’t admit it as she too has her books to keep her company. You will do very well together.

Nostalgic: Ling Ma, severance pay

nostalgia seems harmless, right?

Deaf: Raven Leilani, chandelier

Nothing beats an irreverent, voice-actuated, sexy debut novel to liven things up a bit.

Overwhelmed: rachel yoder, night bitch

It won’t help you deal with your crying kid, but it will make you feel less alone while you clean up his poop and wonder what happened to your career/life/friends/art.

Revised: Helen DeWitt, lightning rod

Reading this (hysterical, sordid) satirical workplace novel while you’re on the clock makes it all the sweeter.

Powerless: Miriam Toews, women speak

A novel to remind you of the power you have – and the power you could have.

Restless: NK Yemisin, the fifth season

Good speculative fiction can glue you to your seat, and this novel – the first in a series, so don’t be afraid to devour it – is great.

Plugged: Lucie Brock-Broido, The master’s letters

These poems take you to a magical, surrealistic language land. (Extra good for prose writers who’ve hit a wall.)

Weary: Natasha Brown, Assembly

Aren’t we all? Think of this novel as a twisted form of wish-fulfillment.

frightened: Alissa Nutting, made for love

That’s how you should be too…

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