The 8 best happy books our editors always turn to for joy

I was destined to major in English. Sure, I also pinned French to my diploma, but if there’s one field of study I identify with most, it’s that of the literal, always-reading literature enthusiast. Perhaps it’s that sense of possibility I’ve always felt when stepping into a library, or the palpable warmth found on the shelves of my favorite bookstores. Whatever it is, having your head in one of my happy books is the best place to be.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by countless people who share my love of reading (and also its physical expression – the smell of a new book, anyone?). I’ve met my best friends at book clubs, bonded with strangers over our mutual appreciation of the classics, and I’m more inspired by my family’s Camille Styles recommendations every day. Seriously, we have a Slack channel dedicated to Recos and start every editorial team meeting by reflecting on what we’ve read. We’re so obsessed.

To let you be initiated into literary goodness, we’ve pooled our Goodreads and grouped together the books we reach for and the books we read (and read again) whenever we need a mood boost. While the list includes those that you wouldn’t immediately label as “happy books,” they do inspire us all to love deeper, laugh harder, and live more fully each day. When I think about it, isn’t that happiness?

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

8 Happy Books That Stimulate Personal Growth

Big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Same author of eat, pray, love and The signature of all things wrote her first non-fiction book on creative living. You can get a physical copy, but I recommend getting an audiobook for this one. I have listened to this book so many times over the past few years and have always reached out to it whenever I need additional words of encouragement or wisdom. — Nihel, social media manager

gift from the sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg

While this isn’t a book that will make you laugh or smile with witty, clever phrases, it will is A beautiful work that is filled with resonant revelations about what it means to live an authentic and true life as a woman. If you read A room for yourself in college and immediately felt the need to move forward with strength and independence, consider this a softer manifesto—but a manifesto nonetheless.

Lindberg’s writing will inspire you to not only make space for yourself each day, but to obsessively write down half of the book’s sentences and post the affirmations all over your home. I speak from personal experience.

My favorite line (and perhaps the book’s most famous quote): “The sea does not reward those who are too fearful, too greedy, or too impatient. Digging for treasure shows not only impatience and greed, but also lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience teaches the sea. patience and trust. One should lie empty, open, random like a beach – and wait for a gift from the sea.” — Isabelle, Editor-in-Chief

You are the mountain by Brianna Wiest

I can’t get enough of Brianna Wiest. I started reading one of her other incredibly popular (and for good reason) books, 101 essays that will change the way you think, and my life was changed forever. Your championship blew me away recently You are the mountain, a book about why we can’t escape our most toxic habits and how we must avoid ourselves to reach our potential. It’s a reference book for life – one you’ll want to start your day with and give to all your closest friends. — Edie, wellness staff

Image by Teal Thomsen

group by Christie Tate

At first glance you might think: hmmm, feel-good summer reading? But trust me when I tell you that this page turner has inspired me and made me hopeful, with enough persistence and a whole lot of hard work, all of us really can live our best life. Even if the paths we land on were sometimes not what we always dreamed of, the beauty lies in the unexpected. — Anne, Contributing Editor

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

That’s why I saw the movie first. (It’s on Netflix – you have to see it!) On a rare occasion, I loved the movie and the book equally. The abstract: A London writer connects with the colorful residents of Guernsey when she learns about the book club they started during German occupation in World War II.

If you love tropes like “Found Family” and “Small Town Hug Makes Big City Fiancé Boring,” then this book is for you. It is told in the form of letters, which I found very creative and engaging. I thought it might take some of the heart and detail out of the story, but it was quite the opposite. It’s a quick read and while some of the storylines are heavy, they’re handled with such delicacy and care. I loved the ending too. — Brittany, head of content marketing

A short guide to a happy life by Anna Quindle

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I keep it by my bed so I can pick it up and read any chapter whenever I need some encouragement. I cry every time I read it but in a good way I want to hug everyone I love and never take them for granted. Bonus: You can read this book from start to finish in about an hour. — Camille, Editor-in-Chief

Picture by Julie Pointer Adams

Anything and everything by Fannie Flagg

Why you recommend it: You’ve probably heard before that her name is linked to the famous film-turned-feel-good film. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. But believe me, Flagg has a lot more good things to come. At the age of 77 she has 11 books under her belt (written between 1981 and 2020). Each book features relatable, lovable, and quirky characters who triumph over many different challenges (which often involve… epos stories and journeys). While you should definitely start your deep dive right away, I’d recommend getting your bearings with my favorites: standing in the rainbow and I still dream of you — Isabelle, Editor-in-Chief

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

If you want to learn about Taoism through witty and brilliant dialogue, look no further than The Tao of Pooh. This beautiful, easy to digest book shares practical life lessons that can help you find your own personal moral code. Think of this less as an introduction to religion and more as a guide to finding happiness, fulfillment and purpose by identifying the things that matter – and leaving the rest. — Brandy, Contributor to Motherhood

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