12 Feel-good fiction books you can read in an afternoon

Readers, I’ve had a stack of hard-hitting literary fiction sitting on my nightstand—unread—for weeks. My brain is seriously rebelling at the thought of reading any heavy or serious books right now.

I’m in the mood for lighthearted, warm and cozy, bright and frothy reads. And I wholeheartedly believe in letting your mood dictate your reading choices. If I force myself to pick up one of my highly anticipated literary titles right now, I’m sure I won’t enjoy it as much, or give it the attention it deserves.

If, like me, you’re leaning towards the lighter side of your reading tastes lately, today’s list is for you. I’ve rounded up some of my very favorite feel-good books for when you need extra bookish delight in your life.

I love these books because while they feel light and easy, they have serious substance beneath the surface. Their themes leave me thinking long after the final page, and their characters remain memorable. These books are about people who are trying their best, who are loving one another even if they’re screwing it up sometimes, who make mistakes and get back up. And that sounds perfect to me, for right now.

What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

This may be my favorite Liane Moriarty novel. Alice is 29, expecting her first child, and crazy in love with her husband—or at least she thinks she is, but then she bumps her head and wakes up on the gym floor, to find that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who’s in the middle of divorcing the man she apparently hates. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she’s become. She’s about to find out. Interesting, readable, and surprisingly thought-provoking. I inhaled this in one sitting, but found myself mulling it over for weeks after I finished. More info →
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The Life Intended

The Life Intended

Warmhearted and richly told, this story begins in tragedy: in the very first sentence, the reader learns that Kate lost her husband in a tragic accident. But in a plot I wouldn’t dare attempt to describe to you, Kate is able to get a glimpse of what her life becomes because of that loss—and it’s not all sorrow and heartbreak. Harmel uses her strange jumping-off point to explore how suffering shapes our lives in surprising and even hopeful ways. Don't worry: it's not at all depressing, and Harmel's a great storyteller. More info →
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The Lost Husband

The Lost Husband

Center's novels are light and fun, but they run surprisingly deep, and are emotionally wise. Libby is attempting to rebuild her life, and that of her two kids, after her husband died in a car crash two years ago. But she's finally had enough of living with her crazy mother, and moves out to the Texas hill country to try out a new life on her crazy Aunt Jean's goat farm. This short and easy read has a familiar arc: girl in a mess, girl sees the light, girl finds happiness, yet its themes of family, forgiveness, and redemption make it worth your while. And this story is coming to the big screen this month, in a feature film starring Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb. More info →
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Love Walked In

Love Walked In

De los Santos novels have all the characteristics of good binge reads: good storytelling, likable characters, and beautiful writing. Cornelia is a hopeless romantic, obsessed with the epic love stories portrayed in classic films, but floundering in her own life. Everything changes the day a Cary Grant look-alike walks through the door of the coffee shop she manages. Of course she falls for him, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with his 11-year-old daughter. Cornelia's family provides friendly, witty support as she navigates big transitions and tough decisions. More info →
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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

After her family (or what's left of it) impulsively moves from California to Connecticut, Amy has to get her car cross-country. There's just one problem: because of a tragic accident, Amy doesn't drive. Enter Roger, an old family friend who volunteers to come along for the ride, and who is dealing with his own heartbreak. Before long, the two friends decide to ditch her mom's carefully-orchestrated route in favor of the scenic route, stopping to see familiar haunts, old loves, and plenty of small town America. Matson adds color to this sweet story with emails, receipts, and playlists galore. Be forewarned: this YA novel is sure to inspire wanderlust. More info →
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Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things

This YA novel is a crowd-pleaser; it's one of the books I most often recommend. When a girl-next-door type suddenly finds herself in an elite California prep school, she has to figure out how to navigate this new privileged world while still grieving her mother's death. When she gets an email from an unidentified boy who calls himself "Somebody Nobody" offering to be her spirit guide to her new school, she doesn't want to say yes—but she really needs his help. A sweet and fun teen romance, but also a pitch-perfect portrayal of the grieving process. I couldn't stop myself from cheering for Jessie as she put her life together again. More info →
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The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the Corner

This sweet, bookish novel is perfect for those who dream of owning their own bookstore someday. When Nina's job as a British librarian is cut due to budget deficits, she takes a leap of faith and opens a bookmobile in a tiny Scottish town. The bookmobile and its treasures transforms one townsperson at a time and Nina's life is revitalized as well. Now that's the power of a good book! More info →
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Piecing Me Together

Piecing Me Together

In this engaging coming-of-age story, we meet Jade, a 16-year-old African American girl struggling to navigate two worlds—that of her wealthy mostly-white high school, and the poorer neighborhood where she lives with her family. This is a nuanced but easy read about feeling out of place, coming into your own, and the perils of good intentions. I loved this one, and my tween girls did, too! More info →
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I had a difficult time choosing which Jennifer E. Smith novel to choose, because they all feel like comfort reads to me. Alice doesn't believe in luck, at least not the good kind. But when she buys her friend Teddy a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday, she picks the good ones: 31 (Teddy's birthday). 9 (the number of years they've been friends). And for the Powerball number: 13 (the date both her parents died, 13 months apart, making her an orphan). That unlucky number wins him 140 million dollars. Teddy promises her the money won't change anything, but of course it does. A novel of love, family, fate, and Chicago, and one that you could read in the course of one happy afternoon. More info →
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The Garden of Small Beginnings

The Garden of Small Beginnings

This is laugh out loud funny, tender, and written in a fresh voice, which you might not expect given the premise. Lilian's husband died in a car accident in front of their house four years ago and she hasn’t been quite ready to move on. Lili is no longer stuck in her grief, but she is in a rut, and generally okay with it: life with her daughters is enough. But when she's given a special project at work to illustrate a book about vegetables, she's signed up for their six-week garden class, introducing Lili (and the readers!) to a delightful cast of fellow gardeners. An unlikely community forms, and no one is quite the same by the time the class ends. More info →
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Ayesha At Last

Ayesha At Last

"Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single, Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there's an even greater truth: To his Indian mother, his own inclinations were of secondary importance." How's this for a twist? In this utterly delightful P&P-inspired retelling, set in contemporary Toronto, Darcy becomes Khalid, a devout Muslim man whose mother is trying to marry him off. I loved the supporting cast featuring good friends, a cousin dreaming of a Bollywood-inspired wedding, an embarrassing mother, and a Shakespeare-quoting grandpa. If you're a P&P devotee, this is a delight. If you've never read the original, you can still enjoy this story about love, family, obligation, and romance. More info →
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I Wanna Be Where You Are

I Wanna Be Where You Are

Aspiring ballerina Chloe Pierce dreams of attending a famous dance conservatory, but her protective mom forbids her from applying. When her mom is away on a trip, Chloe creates a secret plan to drive across the country to audition. What she doesn't plan for is her annoying neighbor Eli and his dog Geezer hitching a ride. With an upbeat soundtrack and determination, Chloe and Eli grow closer as they deal with obstacles on the road. The title comes from the famous Jackson 5 song, and Kristina Forest includes a fun playlist at the end of the book. It's the perfect thing to read on a sunny afternoon. If that's not enough to get you to pick it up, the blurbs from Nic Stone and Nina Lacour should help. More info →
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Do you have any feel-good fiction titles to add to this list? I’d love to hear your recommendations, or what genre you’ve been drawn to lately. Please tell us in the comments.

PS: These 11 fresh, bright books are better in the spring, and past summer reading guides are a great place to find fun escapist novels! And I hope my own feel-good NON-fiction book finds many readers right when they need a comfort read.

P.P.S. You may enjoy this post about comfort watching. The comments section is GOLD.

12 Feel-good fiction books you can read in an afternoon


Leave A Comment
  1. Terry says:

    I find the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society super comforting—I’ve reread it an embarrassing number of times. Its focus on the importance of fellowship and books seems especially relevant in these scary times. I’ve found it difficult to focus on new reading and so I’ve been rereading up a storm—just finished a reread of Rebecca and am starting a reread of The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my all-time favorites!). Stay safe and healthy! Happy reading!

    • Moriyah says:

      Oh my gosh! We are reading twins! I re-read all of these books during the last few weeks! I second the recommendation for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I find it incredibly comforting as well and have also both read and listened to it an embarrassing number of times. The themes of friendship and love of literature feel very relevant now. For anyone new to it, I especially adore the audio version. It is incredibly well done, and all the different voices help you quickly get to know and distinguish between the many characters.

    • Angela says:

      I absolutely love this book and find myself recommending it to everyone and even buying copies to give as birthdays presents. A WONDERFUL feel good book! The characters will stay with you forever!! ❤️

    • Karen says:

      I love the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too! But, I’ve been afraid to re-read it. I’ve been feeling like all this pandemic stuff and the isolating and the stay at home orders feel too much like Nazi Germany. And I’ve actually been consciously deciding against books I love because they’re historical fiction, WWII books….and it feels so scary right now.

    • Parag says:

      I agree. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is wonderfully comforting. Even though the setting, WW II, is not dark the light of simplicity, friendship, and love emerges far stronger in this book.
      I may be in the minority here but I enjoyed the movie just as much.

  2. Adrienne says:

    Hi Anne! Thanks for this list. I’m slogging my way through “Cutting for Stone,” which is good, but just a tad heavy reading right now.

    I recently read “The Book Charmer,” by Karen Hawkins. It’s a sweet book about a woman, Grace, who moves to a small town. One of the characters is the Sarah Dove, town librarian, and books “talk” to Sarah, in a sort of mystical version of “What Should I Read Next?”

    I’ve been wanting to re-read “What Alice Forgot” for the 2020 Reading Challenge; this is the perfect time to do so!

    Happy Reading!

    • Denette says:

      I recently listened to “The Book Charmer” and loved it so much that I bought the print book for my home library!

      • Alicia says:

        I couldn’t agree more! I was totally taken away to that small town! I just loved it! It reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels.

    • Patricia Harrison says:

      I too just finished The Book Charmer. I loved this book and definitely think it deserves to be on this list. The magic realism in it made me think of another favourite book Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.
      I would also add Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. I loved this book so much I wanted to move in and live there.

      • Sarah says:

        I just read The Shell Seekers and September. I was wondering if I wanted to read her next two, so thanks for the recommendation.

    • terri knudsen says:

      I agree 100%!!! Not the “typical” book I would choose but I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s been a month since I finished it and still can’t stop thinking about it!

      • Mandy says:

        Reading American Dirt right now – it’s difficult, but oh so good. Probably should be picking up something lighter but can’t seem to put it down.

    • Beth Schmelzer says:

      American Dirt is not a”feel good” book, but I loved it because I know Jeanine Cummins was villified by critics. She is brave and true to her craft, a researcher and brilliant at characterization and setting. I can promote this book all day. Thank you for mentioning American Dirt. Don’t miss The Outside Boy by Cummins!

      • Kate says:

        I loved American Dirt. I could not put it down, really. My brain kept reading through the night with my eyes scanning as fast as I could go. I recommended it to my daughter who felt just the same. Once she started it, she had to call me to let me know of its hold on her as well.

  3. Mari says:

    So many husbands dying in car accidents! I noticed this trend in “women’s fiction” (hate that term!) years ago…what I have learned from years of reading these books is that if you have a husband and like him, for heaven’s sake take way his car keys! If you don’t like him…buy him a new car, rest assured at some point there will be a tragic accident and you will go on a life changing journey! Lol!

    • Nancy says:

      Yes! For some light-hearted reads, there sure are a lot of dead husbands. It’s kind of a take on the Disney jumping off point of killing off the innocents’ mothers. Let the games begin!

      Does this trope play into the ennui that marriage can bring and how we all secretly want to go back to our single days of independence? Sort of looks like it, but I guess I will have to read to see if I can detect more.

      Should I be worried that I am interested in reading these “dead husband” books? Should my husband be?

    • Jennifer says:

      Lol! I’m so glad you said this. I’ve read 4 books in the past few months where the husband (or in one case fiancé) has died in a car accident. I do admit it’s a good set up for character development but it’s kind of hilarious how prevalent it is in fiction these days!

    • Sarah V. says:

      That’s what I noticed, too! It seems like a convenient way to set up the life change in the heroine’s life. Come on, authors, get creative and save a life at the same time!

    • Ruthie says:

      I had the same response: “What IS it with all the husbands dying in car accidents?!” Laughed over your comment / conclusion. 🙂

  4. Anne says:

    For light-hearted reading, my favorites are the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross. The latest will be released next week, and I can’t wait to read it!

    • Margo says:

      I read A Year in Provence many years ago and loved it. I’m not up for a heavy read with everything that’s going on in the world right now. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Kate says:

        Peter Mayles’s books are definitely a comfort to me. My favorite is “Hotel Pastis”. Makes you want to drink a glass of wine in the spring sunshine!

    • Sara Fairchild says:

      A Year in Provence is one of my favorite rereads and is on my nightstand right now. I will check out your others! I am also reading A princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and just finished My fourth Jenny Colgan book The Bookshop on the Shore. All of those send you to another world-

  5. Jen Lehmann says:

    There’s quite a bit of road-tripping on this list! I think we need to live vicariously as much as we need comfort!! Great list; I’ve lived the ones I’ve read, and have added the rest to my TBR.

  6. Leanne says:

    When thinking about “comfort reads” I often turn to my favorite children’s books. Nancy Drew, the Little House series, My Side of the Mountain are all books that take me to a happy place.

    • Beth Schmelzer says:

      If you readers fid comfort in Little House series, I recommend Lida Sue Park’s newest novel for young readers: PRAIRIE LOTUS. As a Korean-American who grew up in New York state, Linda Sue loved the Wiler books, but she noticed something made her uncomfortable. So she wrote her own version researching immigrants who traveled east from San Francisco. The Main Character is a 14-year-old girl who loves to sew and her life on the prairie. HR!!

    • Corrie says:

      Yes, I often re-read the Mitford series when I need a break from big-city life. If you start with At Home in Mitford, and read all the way through (including some of the books in the related series’) it can take you at least a few weeks/months- depending on reading speed. This series got me through part of a season of grief after my father in law passed away (2 years ago now). For me, Jan Karon’s books are predictable (in a good way), calming, but still interesting enough to keep my attention- even during a time when my brain is not functioning at full capacity.

      In the midst of my ‘grown up reading’, I also frequently pull out my middle grade and YA books, and even re-read favorite picture books from childhood (to myself or aloud to students, nieces, friends- though I haven’t tried this via video conferencing yet).
      Owl at Home (Arnold Lobel), Corduroy (Don Freeman), and the Andrew Peterson Wingfeather Saga spring to mind- today. I’m a mood reader, and I have a pile or two of books in each room- just in case I feel like reading parts of one of them. Currently reading: Book 2 in the Percy Jackson series- Rick Riordan, Josefina Aprende un Leccion (an American Girl book in Spanish) (can you tell I’ve been learning/practicing espanol a lot lately?), The Woman Next Door (Yewande Omotoso), and various others (depending on what I feel like reading at the time).

  7. Christi Jacobsen says:

    Anne, just reading your post gives me comfort, and hope. You continue to find books I will enjoy ‘out there’. This is particularly comforting in a my world. Thank you…

  8. Christina says:

    My absolute favorite feel good read is the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I’ve read it many many many times and love it!
    I also have read several of Susan Wittig Albert’s Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. They are sweet, charming, and fun!

  9. Betsy says:

    Great suggestions for comfort reads! I’m getting ready to dive into The Glass Hotel by ESJM. I preordered it awhile back and have wants to “savor” it sitting in my TBR stack, but I can’t wait anymore. I’ve become a f fan of hers after your strong recommendation of Station 11 on many episodes of WSIRN. Since then , I’ve devoured Lola Quartet also. Can’t wait to see how she weaves this plot Line!

  10. BVaeth says:

    My absolutely favorite feel-good novel is The Story Of Arthur Trulove by Elizabeth Berg. Everyone I know who has read it agrees.

    • Mary Kay says:

      I just started reading that last night! It was a freebie at an Emily Giffin event and has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. But now seems like the right thing to read it!

      • Carolyn says:

        Just finished reading “The Story of Arthur Trulove” and that was what I was going to recommend, too. Just delightful, so warm-hearted, about true friendship and “family.” “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”by Helen Simonson is another book I love.

  11. Hilary says:

    It’s been years but a couple of laugh-out-loud (i don’t think anyone dies) books I loved were both by Kristen Gore “Sammy’s Hill” and “Sammy’s House”. Both take place in DC and follow the life of a 20 something junior employee of a state rep (or senator… I cant’ remember). I just remember that I *loved* these books. They’re light and may be perfect for now.

  12. Ash says:

    I love Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn for a quick, fun read. And the most comfortable quick reads for me are actually from childhood–Harry Potter and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

  13. Anne, I’ve read many of these but will definitely pick up the ones I haven’t. I just finished “The Garden of Small Beginnings” based on your recommendation on the podcast, and it was the perfect read for right now! I’m reading “Love Lettering” by Kate Clayborn right now, and finding it another warm, fun gentle love story. Thanks for the list!

  14. Alyson Shirley says:

    I just read 3 of Camille Pagan’s books… I think one of them had been a kindle first one month, so I picked up two more of her books. They were all so good! Several dealt with heavy topics but they were all redeeming. Really enjoyed her writing during this quarantine time!

  15. Ayesha At Last was good.
    Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf–short and sweet and wonderful. News of the World by Paulette Jiles–esp the audio (Sam Elliott SHOULD be in the lead in the movie–not Tom Hanks). Middle grades book but great for anyone Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
    Although a little longer, two of my favorite “feel goods” are Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson –I especially recommend it in the audio and JoJo Moyes One Plus One.

  16. Beth says:

    Kasie West is one of my go-to authors for comfort reads. Fellow book-lovers might want to start with By Your Side, because it starts with getting locked in a library over a long weekend.

    If you’re looking for a little more of an escape that’s a lot of fun, read Pivot Point and Split Second. It’s X-MEN meets Sky High.

  17. Jennifer Rittall says:

    I read The Authenticity Project a few weeks ago and it is warm and gentle with kind-hearted characters. Thanks for this list because light and fun is all my brain (and heart) can handle right now.

  18. Meredith Hankins says:

    The dead husband thing doesn’t comfort me, but sometimes something that has zero to do with your current situation is helpful to me. Lately, I’ve loved the Discovery of Witches Trilogy. It has been on sale often on kindle recently. It is like twilight for adults who actually want good writing. Very fun, very descriptive and initially set in Oxford, England-which is what got my attention. It’s a fun diversion and transports you someplace else!!!

    • kay mitchell says:

      I have enjoyed Deb Harkness’s style and substance sooo much. I recommend the trilogy plus volume 4 to everyone who loves great language, intrepid characters and history. I have reread at least five times and loved the tv series which is currently available on Amazon prime.
      I am reading light and for enjoyment and escape at this time…old friends like Georgette Heyer, Grace Burrowes, Mary Balogh,Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens…anybody else?

  19. Susan P. says:

    I want to recommend a sweet little novel you might not have heard of—Guide to the Birds of East Africa, by Nicolas Drayson. Stay with me, it’s not a Guide! Mr Malik, an avid birdwatcher, has been secretly in love with Rose, the woman who leads the Tuesday morning bird walk. Then his old high school nemesis arrives and becomes equally enraptured. It ends up being a contest to name the most bird species seen in a week, and the winner will take Rose to the upcoming Ball. One reviewer calls it “a welcome respite from our crazy world”. Isn’t that what we’re looking for?
    Besides the other wonderful suggestions, I add In Her Shoes, by Jennifer Weiner, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, and the whole No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by A. McCall Smith. Such comfort!

  20. Jessica says:

    I loved Evvie Drake Starts Over as well as The Flatshare. Both similar themes, but each so wonderful on their own.

    • Cathy Hildreth says:

      I second “The Flatshare”! It was just a delightful read! It put a smile on my face, and left me feeling happy! The set up is quite cute!! 😉

    • Beth Schmelzer says:

      Try INN SIGNIFICANT by Stephanie Verni. Even tho the husband (and a miscarriage) open the book, it is a tale of a B & B in Oxford, MD and a story of resilience!

  21. Suzanne C says:

    I enjoyed American Royals, by Katharine McGee. It’s ‘alternate’ American history (“What if America had a royal family?”) and while it’s fun and light, it has a surprising amount of heart. The sequel will be coming out on Sept. 1!

  22. What Alice Forgot is my Moriarty favorite too! I’m comfort reading Lauren Denton’s upcoming release, The Summer House, while she’s comfort reading mine 🙂 Next up Oona Out of Order, throwback to SIBA when we could have lots of people in one place…

  23. Kristen says:

    I have read a couple of the books and intend to pick another one to read over the weekend. I am currently enjoying The Art of Inheriting Secrets for its descriptions of a neglected British estate and lively surrounding town. My favorite comfort read is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: humorous, hopeful and nostalgic.

  24. Catherine says:

    I felt like I needed a little humour recently, so I snagged a David Sedaris on OverDrive.
    But first I crossed one off my TBR List. Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman is a pretty short novel; a quirky story about the adult siblings of the Weird family coming together. Each sibling was given a “power” by their grandmother at birth (not a “super” power, but things like never being lost or always forgiving easily). Now their grandmother is on her death bed and would like to rid the siblings of these powers because she thinks the powers are ruining their lives. But all the siblings, who have not been together in years, must appear at her bedside together.
    Born Weird was available from my library on OverDrive. Maybe you can find a copy there too.

    • Carol says:

      Is also wanted something to make me laugh. I am re-reading Bossypants by Tina Fey and listening to David Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed in Flames while I de-clutter my house. On the more serious side, I am reading Hidden Valley Road. I needed the funny ones to lighten the load.

  25. Pamela Reed says:

    I’ve been drawn to longer novels recently – maybe because I can get lost in them? Anyway, I loved Stephen King’s The Institute – it’s dark for sure but somehow matched my current mood. I’ve also enjoyed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and the sequel, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs. They’re kinda like the Deborah Harkness series, only without vampires and time travel. Also a little bit dark but really really engaging.

  26. Kari A Sweeney says:

    I had Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour in my bag for the spring break drive from WI to FL that didn’t happen. Now it’s been sitting on my nightstand. Perhaps it’s time to move it up the TBR list. Plus- it would tick off a book off my unread shelf.

  27. lWendie says:

    I am rereading…after finding a set online…my favorite from the 1960’s. The PENNY PARRISH books by Janet Lambert. West Point, Broadway, NYC in a very different era. As wonderful a read as ever!
    Also can suggest the LUCIA books by EF Benson. A series that is a complete diversion from today’s world.

  28. Henriann Catteau says:

    Thank you for this list. I find myself re-reading so much during this time, taking comfort in reliable plots and characters. My favorite is “The Work of Art” by Mimi Matthews. It’s a closed-door sweet Regency romance, but very lovable characters. All of Ms. Matthews books are lovely, but this is my favorite.

  29. Shawn Hayden says:

    I loved The Garden of Small Beginnings! Right now I am reading a lovely, light hearted read, The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas.

    • Ellen Cole says:

      Love Rosamunde Pilcher! Have always love The Shell Seekers, but read Coming Home last year and it became my new favorite. Also love Winter Solstice…I have been re-reading that in December.

  30. Thank you for this list of feel good books. I have read The Garden of Small Beginnings and loved it, loved it, loved it. In fact, I have read her other two books also and were not disappointed. Such a bright, funny writer and I look forward to more from Abbi Waxman. Several others on your list have me interested. I am reading Marjan Kamali’s The Stationery Shop and I am very much enjoying it. Thanks, Anne. You are doing great.

  31. Natalia says:

    Woot! I’m so excited that I have at least four of your recommendations on my shelves, ready to read. Half of the others I have read and loved; the last few are going on my TBR list. Thanks Anne!

  32. Andrea G. says:

    I’m currently re-reading Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro – a long-time favourite that now seemed like a good time to come back to.

  33. Essie says:

    Yes! Totally agree What Alice Forgot is a perfect comfort read – funny, bittersweet, and definitely stays with you. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller is my go-to comfort read: city girl escapes to a quirky small town, forges friendships, and bakes lots of pies. Gives you alllll the Gilmore Girls feels!

  34. Nanci says:

    Anything by Sarah Addison Allen,Susan Wiggs,Lucinda Riley if you like long,Jenny Colgan, Louise Miller, Susanna Kearsley for a start. I like to read all the books by authors I enjoy. Being retired with no family here, I have lots of time to read!!!!!!!

  35. Kayla Stierwalt says:

    I just read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and loved it. Eleanor makes an inspiring character with strength and resilience.

    Several of your books have a theme of resilience too, and that seems to be my comforting theme. I like to be reminded that people make it through difficult circumstances.

  36. BonniEve says:

    Elin Hilderbrand books. They mostly take place in the summer on Nantucket. Loved The Perfect Couple the most. Easy to read, cute, suspenseful and smart.

  37. Tasha says:

    Thank you for this! I keep all these deep or suspenseful audios coming in from the library and all I want right now is light and sweet. I am going to go request most of these today! ❤️

  38. GLEN says:


  39. Heather says:

    Wow a lot of husbands dying in car accidents- one of my worst fears. No thanks! Usually I love your lists though, and can’t wait for the next one.🙂

  40. Jara C. says:

    I love RaeAnne Thayne books, Jasmine Guillory books, “The Overdue Life of Amy Byler,” and “Red, White, and Royal Blue” for lighthearted reads! RaeAnne Thayne books especially are so warm that I almost always have a literal smile on my face when I finish them.

  41. Dale Power says:

    I have love all of Maria de los Santos books- especially The Precious One.
    Also loved Jojo Moyes Giver of Stars, Things You Save in a Fire, The Island of Sea Women, This Is How It Always Is, Lift by Kelly Corrigan, Carnegie’s Maid.
    I especially loved My Dear Hamilton – best book from last year and America’s First Daughter – both riveting reads. Also The Last Days of Night – about Edison and Westinghouse.
    Paris in Love, One Thousand White Women, House of Thieves – fun read preposterous but fun. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt.
    Loved The Uncommon Reader – hilarious
    We Were Liars, My Name is Resolute, The Lake House, These Is My Words, Glitter and Glue, Falling Together, The Night Circus

  42. Melissa Scott says:

    Jan Karon’s Mitford series is a go-to for me when I need comfort and solace. I call them my “gentle reads.” Last week I started At Home in Mitford…again! Everyone stay home, stay safe and stay healthy!

  43. Alicia says:

    I love this list! Just what I needed!! Thank you!

    I adore all of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels! Set in cozy small towns in North Carolina with some magical realism mixed in! Can’t go wrong!

  44. Leigh says:

    First, Anne, thank you for this list. I find I need lighter fair because concentrating on something heavy or wordy or intense is really hard for me now. Several of your picks are favorites of mine already, especially Love Walked In. That book is one of my top five favorite books of all time; I recommend it frequently. Also enjoyed The Garden of Small Beginnings and The Lost Husband. I am a widow, tho not by car accident, but neither of those books triggered anything in me. In fact, stories of widows who move forward into their new normal are inspiring to me.

    My recommendations for fun, comforting, lighter reads:

    The Saturday Night Supper Club
    Bunch at the Bittersweet Cafe
    The Solid Grounds Coffee Company
    All the above by Carla Laureano.

    Ellie Dwyer’s Great Escape and Ellie Dwyer’s Big Mistake by Diane Winger. These books had me Googling Aliner campers and RV parks. And that says something since my idea of camping out is staying in a hotel.

    The Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross. I read the first ten of these when recovering from surgery many years ago. Miss Julia is a hoot.

    Donna Ball’s Ladybug Farm series. Love these books so much. The three main characters really feel like friends to the reader.

    For longer reads that require a bit more attention to keep characters straight, Jeff High’s Watervalley series.

    Someone mentioned the City Bakers Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. I’ll add the add sequel, The Late Bloomer’s Club.

    For laugh out loud funny and a bit of snarkiness, Laurie Gelman’s Class Mom and it’s sequel, You’ve Been Volunteered.

    Finally, agree with others who listed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Flatshare and The Mitford series.

  45. Molly says:

    I just finished How To Find Love In a Bookshop by Veronica Henry and it was just the light hearted book I needed! Could definitely read in a day!

  46. Roxanne Klump says:

    I’m a widow also but really enjoyed the Garden of Small Beginnings. It’s all about moving forward when you are ready. Loving Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy. Also, The Lager Queen of Minnesota is a delightful read.
    Thank you for all you do and loving your Book Tour interviews.

  47. Abi says:

    Thank you for the insightful recommendations! I think feel-good books are important now more than ever as we endure the stresses that come with quarantine. I haven’t read any of the books on your list, but The Life Intended looks interesting. I compiled a list of my own feel-good, hopeful books for others to read to get through this time of isolation at http://www.themamabookbear.com/5-books-to-read-during-a-quarantine. I hope you enjoy it! Stay safe and stay sane!

  48. Wendee Rosborough says:

    I will always write back: how one letter changed two lives by Caitlin A and Martin Ganda was a good feel good true story.

    The Memory of Us by Camille di Maio remains a favorite love story

    Yes on Mitford series and Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society!
    Thanks for the many great suggestions. This is my favorite type of book all the time anyway so I’m excited to try the ones I have not already enjoyed.

  49. Wendee Rosborough says:

    If you want a laugh out loud funny book, ignore the fact that it’s for kids and trust me! Every adult I’ve recommended this to agrees it was worth the leap of faith.
    Sal and Gabi break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez!! It was light and funny and there is a sequel coming out this summer.

    The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flynn was uplifting and motivating.

    My not so perfect life by Sophie Kinsella was great. Kind of Devil Wears Prada feel.

    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

    Stacy McAnulty books

    The remarkable journey of Coyote Sunrise

    Firoozeh Dumas books like Funny in Farsi

    The Penderwicks

    Three Times Lucky series

    The list could continue but these are all great ones

  50. Janet says:

    Ok so someone at work gave me What Alice Forgot to read at the same time I download The Garden of Small Beginings (as per your recent recommendation) to listen to in my 2 hour commute home. Sisters, dead people, kids… I enjoyed both but it was quite a challenge to keep the characters in their original stories. it has happened before that I noted similarities in two books I was reading but this was like fraternal twins. And who doesn’t love twins!? Thanks again!

  51. Sharon says:

    Just read Finding Tom Hanks, so light, just a quick, happy read. Reminds me of the Gilmore Girls, which I am watching with my preteens through this crazy time.

    Also read the Authenticity Project for virtual book club and our next read is Evvie Drake Starts Over.

  52. Marion says:

    It’s a good idea to promote some feel good fiction to read while we are stuck at home. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago recommending 5 books to read during this pandemic. 1) My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich 2) The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 3) Home is the Sailor by Jorge Amado 4) A Time to Dance by Padma Venktraman & 5) The Little Country by Charles de Lint. All good books to take your mind off of what’s going on in our world. https://marion-hill.com/marions-favorites-5-uplifting-novels-to-keep-your-mind-away-from-covid-19/

  53. Carrie Padgett says:

    I loved What Alice Forgot too! And another “dead husband,” book that is really sweet is The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson.

  54. Gina says:

    These books sound fabulous. I have What Alice Forgot and Tell Me Things already on my Kindle. Thanks for such a great list. But… did anyone else notice a large number of husband’s die at the start of these books….is that just coincidence? Or is it something deeper…(lol)

  55. Carolyn Miller says:

    The Mitford Series by Jan Karon is super comforting! I would put these in fiction, probably christian fiction, but don’t want to put a label on them. Just good stories about Father Tim, an Espiscopalian priest and the flock he tends to in a small North Carolina town. They do have religion in them, but not in the in your face type way; just a good story about a slice of life, and the misunderstandings that people have.

  56. Dkl says:

    A little-known indie series called The G&B Detective Agency (The Case of the Missing Tucker is the first book) is a great read if you enjoy light mystery and pitch-perfect Midwest regional fiction. Written by a retired police officer, the voice here is strong and fun.

  57. Daniela says:

    My No 1 feel good book is „winter solstice“ by R. Pilcher.

    Others are :
    – a man called Ove
    – only Mr. Darcy will do (a p&p retelling) , a bit cheesy but I love it.
    – One day by David Nichols

  58. Susan says:

    Thanks for the list — some old favorites, and some good-sounding new ones! The list seems to be heavily loaded with books women find comfort in, and I can add a couple of my own favorites: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
    I have a question, prompted by a discussion with my librarian son.
    What do men consider “comfort books”?

  59. Carol says:

    Thanks for the list, Anne! I have Ayesha At Last on my TBR shelf for my Reading Challenge (book that starts with an A) so hope to start that one soon. I originally heard about it from your SRG last year.

  60. Tiffany says:

    When I read the synopsis for “Piecing Me Together” it sounded exactly like another YA novel entitled “The Hate U Give.”

  61. Ellen Jennings says:

    I didn’t see one of my favorite feel-good books on this list: A Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles. Restored my faith in humanity, plus it had great characters.

  62. Janna says:

    The Lost Husband was definitely a winner for me in the uplifting category. An “easy”, yet thought-provoking, read- as promised! Thanks, Anne!

  63. Katie says:

    I have had What Alice Forgot for months, but this list finally got me to pick it up and read it. And it was one of my favorite books I’ve read in months!! It was easy to read but very thought provoking. Looking forward to reading Ayesha At Last soon as well!

  64. Torie says:

    I knew coming to your blog would help me find a new-to-me comfort read. 🙂 Although before I even read this post, today I pulled Love Walked In off my bookshelf. I remember the first time I read it, I hugged it when I finished. I also love the sequels, Belong to Me and I’ll Be Your Blue Sky.

    I have always enjoyed Katherine Center’s books. Everyone is Beautiful and The Bright Side of Disaster are great comfort-mama reads for me.

    I just finished Evvie Drake Starts Over and I loved it.
    Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells just makes you feel good.
    The Flatshare was super cute.
    The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, I enjoyed more than The Garden of Small Beginnings.
    Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mystery novels are intriguing but also charming.
    Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.
    Harry Potter!
    To All the Boys I’ve Loved series by Jenny Han.

    Comfort reads are my jam 🙂

  65. Rachel says:

    I loved What Alice Forgot! It was the first Liane Moriarty book I read and it made me want to read all her other ones. I haven’t read any of these other books but I think I will be adding some to my list.

  66. Dana Ward says:

    I’ve read the two latest entries into Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series this month. I’ve also reread Winter Solstice. An all time favorite for relaxing reading is R. Pilcher’s book of short stories, the Blue Bedroom. Perfect to read one or two of these stories before bed.

  67. Lisa S. Toner says:

    Lighter books I have loved: “The Lion Is In” by Delia Ephron; “Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk” by Kathleen Rooney; “Republic of Dirt” by Susan Juby, and the sequel “Republic of Dirt: A Return to Woefield Farm”. Perhaps not quite so light: “The Improbability of Love” by Hannah Rothschild.

  68. Tamara Preble says:

    The Lido (Libby Page)
    Virgil Wander (Leif Enger)
    Summer Hours at the Robbers Library
    (Sue Halpern)
    How Not To Die Alone (Richard Roper)
    The Accidental Beauty Queen (Teri Wilson)
    Sting Ray Afternoons, And Nights in White Castle (both memoirs by Steve Rushin).

  69. Tojo Basu says:

    I feel Rusty runs away by Ruskin Bond is a great feel good novel , though it’s a children’s book but still it’s one of my favourites.

  70. Marta says:

    I have read quite a few of these titles and enjoyed them, but I guess I am a slow reader but it took me one to two weeks to read these books, not just an afternoon!

  71. Ann says:

    I realize this was an older post, but thanks!!!

    Some great options.

    I get the Alice book mixed up w/Still Alice, which was totally different/dementia related. Will try this one.

    Also, I just read The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith & really liked it. I am not a YA person, but her books keep popping up, so I think I will give Windfall a try.

    FYI. The ads on here are nuts!! I try “x-ing” them off, but that takes me to the sites.

  72. Sandra Mosolgo says:

    The Ladies in Black-Madeleine St. John
    Enchanted April-Elizabeth con Artrim
    Audiobooks read by Rick Bragg

  73. Barbara Kochick says:

    Calling Invisible Women
    Step Ball Change
    Eat Cake
    Julie and Romeo
    Julie and Romeo Get Lucky
    All by Jeannie Ray (Ann Pattchet’s mom). They are all short, funny and light hearted.

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