Sometimes all I want to read is a feel-good book. No sad endings, no overly complicated plots, just pure and uplifting joy.
Scroll through the list, choose your next feel-good book, and feel better on the other side…
(Also, why not complement these with the best feel-good books of all time to balance newcomers with old favourites?)
The most uplifting feel-good books of 2023
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
In this lighthearted cozy read, you’ll meet Emily Wilde: the foremost expert on the study of faeries, a genius scholar, and a meticulous researcher. She’s incredibly talented, but would rather be with her books or her dog, Shadow, than other people.
So when Wendell Bambleby, her dashing and handsome academic rival, arrives in town and steps on her turf, she has a problem. What’s really his story, and how can she focus on her work to uncover the most elusive of faeries?
What You Are Looking For Is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama
Read What You Are Looking For Is in the Library for… a charming story about how the perfect book recommendation can change your life.
What are you looking for? That’s the question asked by Tokyo’s most insightful and enigmatic librarian, Sayuri Komachi, who somehow manages to sense what brings each visitor to her library. What’s more, she can recommend exactly the book they need to read next.
Just translated to English in 2023, What You Are Looking For Is in the Library is a feel-good book about books for anyone who’s ever felt lost, directionless, or in need of a hug. (It’s also got one of the best book covers of 2023.)
We Should Not Be Friends: The Story of a Friendship by Will Schwalbe
Read We Should Not Be Friends for… a warm and funny memoir that follows the course of an improbable and life-changing friendship over forty years.
I adored Will Schwalbe’s 2013 celebration of the comfort of reading, The End of Your Life Book Club. Now in 2023, Will has shared a rare and joyful view of male friendship, starting with the first time he met Maxey as a junior in college.
While Will was nerdy and creative, Maxey was physically imposing, loud, and a star wrestler who was determined to become a Navy SEAL. But thanks to a little-known secret society at Yale, the two forged a bond that transcended their differences and would remain throughout each others’ lives.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
Read The Wishing Game for… a wildly imaginative and cozy book that weaves a moving story of the families we choose and the power of stories. Although the book has its darkness, it’s ultimately hopeful and heartwarming.
Behind this gorgeous cover, you’ll find one of my favourite books of 2023. The Wishing Game is the story of Lucy Hart, a lifelong bibliophile who survived her lonely childhood by finding solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson.
Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, Lucy can share her love of reading with her students, who she’d give anything to help. When she gets a chance to win the only copy of her favourite author’s new book, it seems like her life – and the life of one of her students in particular – might be about to change.
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
Read The Bodyguard for… nineties rom-com vibes in a story about a badass bodyguard who looks more like a kindergarten teacher.
In this fun feel-good romance book for 2023, Jack Stapleton’s a household name… one with a middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker. He doesn’t want his family to find out about this, nor the bodyguard he knows he has to hire.
Hannah Brooks, Executive Protection Agent, agrees to pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend while protecting him, despite her better judgement. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And that’s a problem.
The Book of (More) Delights: Essays by Ross Gay
Read The Book of (More) Delights for… a lovely collection of essays that will warm your heart and shoo any worries from your mind.
Ross Gay is known for his wonderfully uplifting non-fiction, and this new collection of feel-good essays is a much-needed reminder to open our eyes to delight in unsettling times.
From his mother’s freshly-baked cookies to hummingbirds carousing in the beebalm and the shared bounty from a neighbour’s fig tree, this is Ross Gay’s sequel to his hugely popular Book of Delights, whisking readers away to a place of hope that’s free of worries and full of ordinary delights.
Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
Read Bookshops & Bonedust for… the cozy fantasy book you didn’t know you needed, following the success of Travis Baldree’s hugely popular Legends & Lattes.
In Legends & Lattes, we met Viv, a battle-weary orc (yes, an orc) who was hanging up her sword for a fresh start: opening the first coffee shop in the city of Thune.
In this equally cozy prequel, Travis Baldree takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and secondhand books as Viv recuperates in the sleepy beach town of Murk after being wounded. Like Legends and Lattes, it’s a hilarious, wholesome, and uplifting celebration of the small moments that make life worthwhile.
Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-reum
Read Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop for… a Korean bestseller about fresh starts, the power of books, and the magic of opening your heart.
In this cozy slice-of-life book, you’ll meet Yeongju, a woman who’s burnt out, fed up, and figuring out what’s next after leaving her high-flying career and demanding marriage in Seoul to pursue an old dream: opening a bookshop.
As she fills the bookshelves, hires a barista, and works out how to make ends meet, Yeongju builds a space for lost souls to rest, heal, and turn a new page. Along the way, she rediscovers what she’s been missing in her own life: joy, purpose, and love.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Read Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers for… a lighthearted and fun mystery for 2023 about a charming tea shop owner turned detective.
This is the heartwarming story of Vera Wong, a lady of a certain age who owns a dark and dingy tea shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Faced with very few customers and a lot of free time, she turns her attention to other hobbies, like following her son’s social media.
Then one morning, Vera discovers a body in the tea shop. She has little faith in the police and has plenty of experience in figuring things out. Helping herself to a little bit of evidence before the police arrive, Vera gets to work on her investigation.
The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand
Read The Five-Star Weekend for… a sunshine-filled spa weekend in a book for anyone who needs a break.
I don’t read that many beach reads, but Elin Hilderbrand is my go-to guilty pleasure author – and The Five-Star Weekend is absolutely my favourite vacation read of 2023.
It’s the story of Hollis Shaw, who seems to have a picture-perfect life: she’s the creator of a popular food blog and married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. However, when Hollis’s life falls apart, things aren’t looking so perfect anymore.
When Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”, she decides to host her own to get her life back on track, bringing together four friends from different stages in her life. It’s a spa weekend in a book, really.
The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David Von Drehle
Read The Book of Charlie for… a life-affirming collection of wisdom in one of the best feel-good non-fiction books of 2023.
How can we live a long and happy life? This new book by veteran Washington journalist David Von Drehle offers an excellent answer, based on the remarkable life of the author’s centenarian neighbour.
Born before radio, Charlie lived long enough to use a smartphone, following his sense of adventure through the Jazz Age, Depression-era gangster disputes, and even the Amazon as a guest of Peru’s president.
The Book of Charlie is a fascinating story of resilience, curiosity, and adaptability, but also an invaluable guide to creating our own meaningful lives.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
Read In the Lives of Puppets for… T.J. Klune’s heartwarming new fantasy adventure about a family assembled from spare parts in the heart of a peculiar forest.
You might have read T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, one of the most heartwarming and wholesome books of the last few years.
For more of his trademark feel-good writing, keep an eye out for In the Lives of Puppets. It’s one of my anticipated books for 2023, bringing together the best vibes of Becky Chambers, Douglas Adams, and Wall-E.
Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
Read Georgie, All Along for… a whimsical love story about friendship and new beginnings for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away.
For one of the most delightfully fun feel-good reads of 2023, pick up Georgie, All Along: the story of longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy, who’s made a career out of putting others before herself.
When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie realises that she needs to put her own wants and needs first for once. Little does she know how much is about to change.
Happy Place by Emily Henry
As one of the best new romance books for 2023, Happy Place is the perfect easygoing, lighthearted romance to read this year.
This is Emily Henry’s latest book about a seemingly perfect couple who broke up months ago but pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends.
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