Books to cheer a person up!

Earlier this week, a member of the twitterati posted a shout out to her fellow book clubbers asking for recommendations for books that could distract and cheer a person up.

It was surprisingly difficult at first – instantly the most miserable books we’ve ever read jumped to mind (ahem). Or ones that are personally perfect but more tricky to explain (especially in 140 characters) – such as Anne Frank’s Diary or His Dark Materials.

They lift me up when I’ve lost my way but aren’t exactly works that make you laugh aloud!
We had a right giggle about how miserable our tastes were as a collective before the wheels in our heads started turning and we were able to offer a few (hopefully) viable suggestions.
Course, once I’d started thinking down this vein, I couldn’t stop. So, I’ve had a think about some of my favourite go-to-when-I’m-down-in-the-dumps books, listed in no particular order below. As always, please feel free to tweet or leave a comment below with some of your choices, questions or comments.
Pride and Prejudice/Bridget Jones’ Diary 
(Jane Austen and Helen Fielding respectively)

Introduced to me by my mum, P & P holds a special place in my heart. It’s my go-to book whatever mood I happen to be in! The language used is beautiful, the characters are engaging and the romance is at once obvious and lovely. Every line weaves a story around readers that at once captivates and transports. A must read!

BJD is – as everyone and their uncle knows – a modern homage to the Austen classic. Casting my generations Mr Darcy into the films series was an absolutely inspired stoke of genius! I have to admit, I tend to watch this one rather than read it, but if you haven’t tried this lovely book yet, I’d highly recommend it!

The Daisy Dalrymple Series (Carola Dunn)

Leeds Book Club discovered this series not long after we started the book club. Each of the original three members would pick up a book when and where we could and share them, reading I think 8 in the space of a few weeks.
Set in the flapper era of the 1920’s, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple is a journalist and amateur detective – solving crimes in a discrete and often hilarious way. She is young, energetic, enthusiastic and determined. The sort of character that you’d love to meet and befriend.
The mysteries are not the *most* elaborate, but the books are well written and feature frequent nods to those masters of the genera such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

I’ve just realised that I haven’t read this book IN TIME!
Clearly, I must remedy this!
A mad, strange, oddly poignant and hilarious look at the end of the human race; this book (based on a radio show) is one of those romps that just has you racing to finish so that you can start it all over again!
The first book in a trilogy of five, all (except the somewhat sobering final book) are uplifting with just the right degree of odd.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurl. And you’ll never look at your towel the same way again.

And remember, Don’t Panic!

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Actually the reason I’m living in Yorkshire. OK, maybe not the *only* one…
Magic, mystery, friendship and family. This book is all good things in one perfect little package.
While I can’t be sure, I think that I remember my parents reading this to me in my very youngest years.
Certainly it’s a book I can’t ever remember not having within reach.
I do know that this was one of those books that I reached for over and over again during my formative years, especially when I felt my world crashing down on me.
Simple, gracious and deeply moving, perfect for any age.

Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling)

I’ve already written about this series before – I guess everyone knows how much I love both the books and the films. Ever since first picking up the books, I’ve had regular re-reads of the full set. In fact, I happen to know that the SP has just completed her full set re-read too!
A classic tale of good versus evil, hope despite the odds, redemption, betrayal and everything in between – Harry goes through the gauntlet of emotions, taking the reader with him. The world always cheers me up!

James Herriot/Gerald Durrell

Slightly cheating here – two in one and all, but I discovered these two authors around the same time.
Though the styles and content are totally different; both sets revolve around the restorative powers of the natural world; the grace that exists all around us, right under our noses.

Featuring exaggerated characters and situations, these books put the real world into a blissful relief, reminding us over and over again that we have to live our lives in harmony with the world around us to achieve the same within ourselves.
Also, gigglicious to the extreme – particularly the Corfu trilogy.

Roald Dahl

Yes, Yes, I know. I may have mentioned this once or twice in the past.

Suffice to say; I enjoy both his children’s books and his far darker adult novels in equal measure.

For cheering up; I’d personally turn to his poetry for a giggle and a whole new perspective on the world.
Agatha Christie

The Queen of Crime.

With over 66 detective novels and 14 short story anthologies, Christie manages to keep even the most grumpy reader intrigued.
And with so many different detectives, you’re bound to find a personal favourite.
I return to the elusive Harley Quinn, over and over again when I’m in a bad head space. The idea that the past can allow for more than mere reflection is one that keeps me going no matter how bad the scenario.
The Green Gables Series (Lucy M Montgomery)

A book about new beginnings, finding family and making friends, the series does not shy away from the harsher realities of life but manages to remind us to put a positive spin where we can, focusing on hope, rather than despair.

The red haired orphan (with an exceptionally pretty nose)bounded onto the Prince Edwards Island in 1908 and into the hearts of generations of readers all around the world every since.
It’s a joy to read and re-discover every few years.

Fancy giving the series a try, find the first book on Project Gutenberg.

Join Me (Danny Wallace)

The very witty tale of an accidental cult leader and his Karma Army.
This book charts the (apparently) totally unplanned creation of a movement for social good; from it’s inception.
While I don’t totally believe that the whole movement happened entirely by accident; Wallace writes well and seems to be an eminently likable chap. I very much enjoyed the read and look forward to reading Random Acts of Kindness – the follow up.

Special Mention:
What Katy Did…(Susan Coolidge)

I can almost see t’Elf rolling her eyes – she’s heard me go on about these books for so many years.

For personal reasons Katy and the Carr family are heroes of mine. I love the three Katy books so very very much – they helped me through some of the darkest days of my life.

If you’d like to read it, the books are on Project Gutenberg.

(Did you really think I’d be able to leave him out!)



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