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14 life-affirming books to help you fall in love with the world again

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Near Orkhon Waterfall in central Mongolia
Near Orkhon Waterfall in central Mongolia

There’s always room on my bookshelves for life-affirm­ing books that help me fall in love with the world, especially on days when life has lost its lustre.

This selection of uplifting, thoughtful, and cozy books fits this bill perfectly, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of a chaotic world.

Including both fiction and non-fiction, pour yourself a hot drink, get cozy, and feel brighter and better with my pick of the best life-affirming books

Life-affirming books to lift your spirits and warm your heart

So Far, So Good: Final Poems 2014-2018 by Ursula K. Le Guin

Read So Far So Good for… the final poems of Ursula K. Le Guin, collating astute and meaningful ponderings on what it means to live, be human, and reunite with the earth.

“the earth that let her sing her love,/the gift that made the giver/here on the lonely hill above/the valley of the river.”

If you know Ursula K. Le Guin, it’s probably from her iconic science fiction writing. But as this transcendent poetry collection shows, her words created magic in a multitude of forms.

If you love the quietly contemplative nature of Mary Oliver’s writing – and especially if you’re mesmerised by the natural world – I’d wholeheartedly recommend this heart-opening and life-affirming poetry collection.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Read Winter Solstice for… a beautifully heart-warming story of community and kindness in the depths of winter.

Rosamunde Pilcher is one of my favourite authors of life-affirming fiction books, especially here in Winter Solstice.

In this story that’s perfect to read at Christmas, a group of very different people are brought together in Scotland to celebrate the end of one year and start of another.

It’s not without deep tragedy and sorrow, but is ultimately about finding the strength to go on – with loved ones by our side and an awareness of what once brought us joy.

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

Read Becoming Wise for… the same elegant intelligence about what makes us human as Krista Tippett’s award-winning radio show and podcast, On Being.

On Being is one of my favourite podcasts – it’s full to the brim with wisdom, eloquence, and beautiful insights into the art and spirituality of living.

Similarly, Krista Tippett’s hopeful and life-affirming book will remind you of the beauty of life, the kindness of humans, and how our wounds actually bring us meaning, beauty, and wisdom.

Closer to the Ground by Dylan Tomine

Read Closer to the Ground for… a father’s personal story of learning to share his love of nature with his children, directly and palpably in their wild surroundings.

Throughout the four seasons of a year in the Pacific Northwest, Dylan Tomine and his family forage, cook and eat from the woods and sea. This is their story, beautifully penned by Dylan and accompanied by wonderful photos.

It’s a story of a life lived closer to the ground, but also a memoir of a year spent raising children who are kind, good humans who care for the earth and thank nature for its blessings.

All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley

Read All the Beauty in the World for… an uplifting reminder of the comfort of art by someone who knows the treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art better than almost anyone.

In this wonderful new memoir for 2023, former New Yorker staffer Patrick Bringley shares how his life was turned upside down when his older brother was diagnosed with cancer.

He sought solace in the most beautiful place he knew: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He would spend the next decade working there as a museum guard, his days marked by quiet contemplation and marvelling at the beautiful works in his care.

As Patrick shares his story, a healing and intimate portrait of the comforts to be found in art, antiquity, quiet moments, and community emerges from the pages. It’s really quite special.

The Sun, the Sea and the Stars: Ancient Wisdom as a Healing Journey by Iulia Bochis

Read The Sun, the Sea and the Stars for… a timeless story of a traveller’s journey from darkness to light.

In this beautiful and healing book, Iulia Bochis masterfully blends ancient wisdom and striking visual storytelling for a wonderfully life-affirming reading experience about seeking inner peace and growth.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Read A Psalm for the Wild-Built for… feel-good vibes and hope for the future from Becky Chambers, the author at the forefront of the hopepunk genre.

In this hopeful sci-fi world, it’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered together into the wilderness, and faded into myth and urban legend.

But one day, the life of a tea monk is turned upside down by a robot at their door asking a very perplexing question: “What do people need?”

This short read is delightfully life-affirming, wholeheartedly non-judgemental, and gently philosophical.

The Possibility of Life: Searching for Kinship in the Cosmos by Jaime Green

Read The Possibility of Life for… a fascinating examination of how the possibility of life on other planets shapes our understanding of humanity.

In this new non-fiction read for 2023, acclaimed science journalist Jaime Green intertwines cutting-edge astronomy research, philosophical inquiry, and thought-provoking insights on present-day culture.

Immerse yourself in the pages of this mind-opening book and ponder: Are we alone in the cosmos? And what does it mean to be human?

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

Read Anne of Green Gables for… one of the best feel-good classic books of all time, about a character that’s so in love with life that it’s hard not to feel that way too.

Tumble into the pages of this classic book for the beloved story of an orphan finding her place in the world. It’s brimming with the joy of new beginnings, second chances, and pausing to notice the beauty of the world around us.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Read The Travelling Cat Chronicles for…. a heartwarming and life-affirming celebration of how the smallest things can provide the greatest joy.

In this wholesome comfort read, author Hiro Arikawa gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends.

However, the plan turns out to be different than Nana was led to expect. Along the way – and as the seasons and scenery change as they make their way across Japan – they will learn the true meaning of love, courage, and gratitude.

Tree Glee: How and Why Trees Make Us Feel Better by Cheryl Rickman

Read Tree Glee for… an awe-inspiring look at the psychology behind our fascination with trees and how they comfort, restore, and revitalise us.

Trees want the same things as humans, really: to live good, happy, and purposeful lives. As Cheryl Rickman reminds us in this magical book, our lives are also inextricably bound to the services of our leafy friends.

From cleaning the air we breathe to providing timber for the homes we live in – and offering woodland therapy to soothe our spirits – Tree Glee highlights how when we celebrate and care for trees, we also flourish.

How Far You Have Come: Musings on Beauty and Courage by Morgan Harper Nichols

Read How Far You Have Come for… an exquisitely crafted collection of poetry, essays, and Morgan Harper Nichols’ trademark vibrant illustrations that come together to muse on the beauty and courage inside all of us.

How Far You Have Come is a book for anyone who’s ever felt lost and broken – and most of all, a reminder of just how incredible your journey to this point has already been.

As you read this lovely book, you’ll reclaim your moments of brokenness, division, and pain and re-envision them as experiences of reconciliation, unity, and hope.

The Sweetness of a Simple Life: Tips for Healthier, Happier and Kinder Living from a Visionary Natural Scientist by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Read The Sweetness of a Simple Life for… a gently inspiring and life-affirming book of wisdom about healthier, happier, and kinder living.

In this wise and accessible book about living well, natural scientist Diana Beresford-Kroeger nudges us in the direction of the best way to get back to basics: the natural world around us.

Read this wonderful book for a reminder of the sweetness of a simple life, in which the author skilfully blends modern medicine with aboriginal traditions for healing and practical wisdom.

The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown (Edited by Catherine Burns)

Read All These Wonders for… unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown.

In case you haven’t heard of The Moth, this live storytelling phenomenon brings together voices as diverse as an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time to a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s secret army.

In this lovingly curated edition, some of the best performances have been carefully adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy and inspiration of live storytelling.

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