11 best lighthearted books for fun and happy reading
I’m a firm believer that books can help us feel better. This couldn’t be more true than with the fun and lighthearted books in this post.
To put this together, I’ve thought about the best laugh-out-loud books I’ve ever read, including fun fiction books, lighthearted novels, and simply happy books.
These are the best lighthearted books to read before bed, on difficult days when you need a boost, during the dark days of winter, or just any other time you want to enjoy some easygoing reading.
Take your pick from these happy books to hitchhike across the galaxy, sail along the Thames with good friends (and a dog), or escape from corporate America to Antarctica. Enjoy the journey.
The best funny and lighthearted books to boost your mood
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Read Where’d You Go, Bernadette for… a fun fiction book to get lost in about a quirky main character who flees the anxieties of everyday American life for Antarctica.
This bestselling novel by Maria Semple is one of the best lighthearted books to immerse yourself in while retreating from the world. Read it for oh-so-relatable anxieties, quibbles with the corporate world and big tech, and a desire to get away from it all and redefine who you are.
With easygoing writing and lighthearted fun, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is also one of the best books to help you fall back in love with reading if you haven’t picked up a book in a while.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
Read Three Men in a Boat for… one of the most hilarious classic feel-good books that stands the test of time. It’s a perfect lighthearted book to read before bed or to calm your mind as you travel along the River Thames with the characters.
Originally intended as a series of magazine articles about the scenery and history of the Thames, Jerome’s comic prose overtook to create this comedic gem about a boating holiday with friends. Over on Reddit, one reader shared this:
“[Three Men In A Boat is] 125 years old, but it’s still laugh out loud funny because the things he writes about (procrastination, putting up tents in the rain, refusing to admit you’re lost, manipulative pets and sharing living space with somebody who is learning the banjo) are all still instantly relatable.”
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Read The Rosie Project for… a clever, warm, and delightfully weird love story first published in 2013.
Don Tillman is a brilliant yet completely socially inept professor of genetics who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. So he designs the Wife Project to find his ideal candidate, starting with a sixteen-page survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, and the late arrivers.
Unfortunately, Rosie Jarman drinks, smokes, and arrives late. She should be immediately disqualified as a candidate. And yet, somehow, Don is swept into the whirlwind that is Rosie as they collaborate on her own project to find her biological father.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Read A Walk in the Woods for… Bill Bryson’s feel-good story of hiking some of the most breathtaking terrain in America, from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail.
Pick up a copy to hear about Bill’s time on the trail and the memorable faces – human and otherwise – he meets along the way. In a Reddit thread about the best lighthearted and fun books, one reader shared:
“Bill Bryson! Always Bill Bryson! A Walk in the Woods is fall off the bed funny, but I also love his memoirs about his childhood–The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.“
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Read Good Omens for… a winning combination of the laugh-out-loud humour of Terry Pratchett and the gravity and dark comedy of Neil Gaiman for a wonderfully inventive take on the end of the world.
When browsing Reddit for the best lighthearted and funny books, you’ll keep hearing Terry Pratchett’s name. One reader shared:
“The works of Sir Terry Pratchett are hilarious, insightful, and mostly lighthearted. They’re not sunshine and rainbows, and some can get quite dark, but the overall vibe is laughter all the way down. I started with Small Gods, which is a truly beautiful book, but there are tons of lists online recommending reading orders.”
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Read Red, White & Royal Blue for… a Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Romance and Best Debut that asks one compelling question… What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
Alex Claremont-Diaz is America’s equivalent of a young royal: handsome, charismatic, fiercely intelligent… and son of the president. There’s only one problem: Alex can’t stand the actual prince, Henry, across the pond.
But when a truce is staged by heads of family and state, the plot of this lighthearted romance turns in a new direction.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Read Furiously Happy for… a laugh-out-loud-funny book about crippling depression and anxiety. As Jenny shares, this idea sounds terrible. But terrible ideas are what she does best.
In Furiously Happy, Jenny shares the philosophy that her quite literally saved her life: “You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.”
It’s a book about mental illness, but it’s also one of the best books to read to be happy, celebrating and encouraging something we could all benefit from: embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.
For more like this, Jenny Lawson’s hilarious memoir of her bizarre childhood, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is also excellent.
“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman
Read “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” for… a self-portrait of the iconic physicist that The New Yorker describes as “Funny, brilliant, bawdy… enormously entertaining.”
If you know anything about Richard P. Feynman, it might be that he won the Nobel Prize in physics. But there’s a lot more to the man to know, including outrageous adventures and an eyebrow-raising nature.
I love this review from the Los Angeles Times Book Review: “The book is a litmus paper: anyone who can read it without laughing out loud is bad crazy.”
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Read The Hundred-Year-Old Man for… a laugh-out-loud novel about the incredible (and ridiculous) life of a man who will never be able to live out his last days in a nursing home.
I adored reading this hilarious book when it was first released. Sitting in his room in an old people’s home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for his one-hundredth birthday party to begin. And he can’t think of anything worse.
In his slippers, Allan escapes through the window and sets off on an unlikely journey involving scoundrels, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. Also, a lot of stories about Allan’s earlier remarkable life, involving (Forrest Gump-style) some of the landmark moments of the twentieth century.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for… one of the most hilarious modern classics that’s easy to read and incredibly memorable.
As one of the most popular feel-good books of all time, this beautifully silly classic follows the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, beginning one Thursday lunchtime when the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.
Read a few pages and feel your worries slipping away as you remind yourself that life doesn’t have to be so serious.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Read Legends & Lattes for… a cozy book about an Orc Warrior who opens a coffee shop. Yes, really.
If you’re looking for something quirky and charming, Legends & Lattes is a fun, incredibly lighthearted, and comfy read about following your dreams into new and unfamiliar places. This book is slice-of-life meets modern fantasy, which turns out to be delightful.
Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch’s Heart, writes: “Take a break from epic battles and saving the world. Legends & Lattes is a low-stakes fantasy that delivers exactly what’s advertised: a wholesome, cozy novel that feels like a warm hug. This is my new comfort read.”
For more lighthearted books, why not browse the recommendations in these posts next?
- The best new feel-good books for uplifting reading in 2023
- The best wholesome books for heartwarming reading
- The best feel-good books of all time to brighten your day
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
- I'm also the author of Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps, a book about my time living alone by the mountains.
- If you love books, are feeling a little lost right now, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, join The Sanctuary, my seven-day course to rebalance your life.