Trend Alert: Popular 'Up-Lit' Books to Improve Your Mood

Posted by Hayley on November 8, 2018


Tired of fictional murderers lurking around every page? Fed up with unwelcome apocalypses, unending wars, and miseries that somehow get worse as the chapters fly by? You're not alone. We love stories, but they can sometimes be dreary things.

Enter "up-lit," a book trend with modest intentions: It wants to make you feel better.

Of course, books have always improved readers' lives, but "up-lit" [uplifting literature] seeks to do this by focusing on empathy and optimism. The characters in this wave of literature are everyday heroes dealing with everyday problems, championing human connection over romance, fulfillment over traditional success.

"These feel-good books tap into mental health and loneliness and anxiety and trauma," editor Sam Eades told The Guardian about the growing trend. "By the end of the book the characters will have formed friendships, and been swept into a community."

Want to check it out for yourself? We rounded up some of the most popular "up-lit" titles Goodreads members have been shelving below. Add the ones that catch your eye to your Want to Read shelf.


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Have you read any "up-lit" books this year? Tell us what you think of the trend in the comments!


Comments Showing 1-47 of 47 (47 new)

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message 1: by Micklemas (new)

Micklemas "The Hundred Year Old Man who climbed out the window and disappeared." Very good book, especially for this list.


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Singleton Eleanor Oliphant was one of the best books I read this year!!


message 3: by Judy (new)

Judy Just started reading "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion today and already I think it fits this category. Also, I've only read 3 of these books (Eleanor Oliphant, A.J. Fikri and A Man called Ove) and I loved them all so I'm adding the rest to my Want to Read list ASAP


message 4: by Jenn (new)

Jenn The Adjective Noun of Quirky McName


message 5: by Sue (new)

Sue Mike Gayle: The Man I Think I Know


message 6: by Leila (new)

Leila Ou Eleanor Oliphant is completely is one of the best novels that changed my life.


message 7: by Nancy (new)

Nancy It's interesting to me that 75% of these have a character's name in the title.

I've read Eleanor Oliphant (it was expertly narrated on the audiobook) and just added most of the rest to my list!


message 8: by Giselle (new)

Giselle Borges Thanks! I just added all of them to my list. I read Eleanor Oliphant this year and it made me cry. Books rarely make me cry.


message 9: by Carla (new)

Carla Recently I've been looking for books just like this. Check out Jonas Jonasson, Catharina Ingelman Sundberg, Kenzi Frost and J.B. Morrison!


message 10: by Bianca (new)

Bianca Bancroft This is right up my alley! Anyone have any other up-lit recs? Possibly with a diverse cast?


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Anze To this list, I would add 'Britt-Marie was Here' and 'My Grandmother Asked me to tell you She is Sorry'. Both by Fredrik Backman and both excellent books. 'Ove' is one of my favorite books ever.


message 12: by Donna (new)

Donna Eleanor Oliphant is really unique, I loved it, but haven't found anything quite like it. I've read 6 of the novels on this list and enjoyed them all except for Ove. Backman loses something in translation for me at least. I love books like this; I hope more books in this sub-genre continue to be published. I greatly value comfort reads. I'd add Anne Youngson's debut novel Meet Me At The Museum to this list.


message 13: by Alison (new)

Alison The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, so sweet and interesting. Up-lit for sure!


message 14: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Edwards Loved the keeper of lost things and Eleanor Oliphant so have added all the rest to my read list 😍


message 15: by Nikki (new)

Nikki I’m so excited to see this list! I added all I haven’t read. This is probably my favorite genre and I’ve never had a name for it!


message 16: by Lina (new)

Lina This trend is disgusting. Half the time, the authors in question don't know what they're writing about and end up doing more harm than good.

I read the Eleanor Oliphant book. It is dangerous in its ignorance of what having mental health issues (any at all, but especially those that Eleanor is supposed to have) is like.

Frankly, I wouldn't call books about mental health issues uplifting, except perhaps to those people who don't have any and are looking for inspiration porn.

If you want to recommend uplifting books, make a list of good books for children that adults can also still enjoy. At least it wouldn't give attention to unoriginal hacks who exploit real people's problems out of greed.


message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Ramirez You have
uplifted my mood already. Great article!
I can't wait to read the books you suggested and more articles from you. Thanks.


message 18: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Ramirez You have
uplifted my mood already. Great article!
I can't wait to read the books you suggested and more articles from you. Thanks.


message 19: by Cendaquenta (new)

Cendaquenta Oh, there's a name for these... huh...
Not my genre, personally. Tried a few, was bored. Enjoyed The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, though.

Jenn wrote: "The Adjective Noun of Quirky McName"

😂

Lina wrote: "This trend is disgusting. Half the time, the authors in question don't know what they're writing about and end up doing more harm than good.

I read the Eleanor Oliphant book. It is dangerous in it..."


👍


message 20: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Lina wrote: "If you want to recommend uplifting books, make a list of good books for children that adults can also still enjoy."

Matilda by Roald Dahl! :)


message 21: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Jenn wrote: "The Adjective Noun of Quirky McName"

I was like, "That sounds like an interesting title", so I went to look it up, and was puzzled as to why I couldn't find it on Goodreads or Google. It was only after several minutes that I realized why.

*embarassed*


message 22: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Brit Marie was here by Fredrick Backman


message 23: by Hiba (new)

Hiba Azhar Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine and A man called ove are the two books I’v read and they were certainly up lifting 😊😊 can’t wait to read the rest of the books!!


message 24: by Lee (new)

Lee Whispers Through a Megaphone by Rachel Elliott
and
Useful by Debra Oswald


message 25: by Tomalika (new)

Tomalika How to fall in love with a man who lives in a bush by Emmy Abrahamson perfectly fits the Up-lit criteria. It was wonderful.


message 26: by Maja (new)

Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨ I don't really read up-lit books, but this list made me want to give it a go - I think I could use som picking up in this drab november weather


message 27: by Ana (new)

Ana What about “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio?


message 28: by Janice (new)

Janice I love "Up-Lift" novels. It's a guaranteed #Goodread that gives your heart something joyful to look forward to 😊 Great article and thanks for the suggestions.

Btw, "I've Got Your Number" by Sophie Kinsella is great Up-Lit read.


message 29: by Nancy (new)

Nancy De Brucker I also read 'The Cactus' which is a bit similar and I also highly recommend 'The temptation to be happy' by Lorenzo Marone!! this really made me laugh


message 30: by Eule (new)

Eule Luftschloss Uplifting? Eleanor Oliphant?
Deleted what I wrote initially. Agree with Lina, not only because we're friends because that book is very harmful, and even more so with the hype surrounding it. But yeah, mental illnesses are cool and edgy, let's give every character abusive parents so they're tragic on top of it.


The trouble with goats and sheep was fun. I always look to the Hobbit and the Fairyland Series by Catherynne M. Valente for an uplift. Or Discworld. All of them.


message 31: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Bianca wrote: "This is right up my alley! Anyone have any other up-lit recs? Possibly with a diverse cast?"

Does a character with Asperger's count? If so, I highly recommend The Rosie Project. That book was so funny and touching! :)


message 32: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Sweet Potato Queen’s Book of Love, Jill Connor Browne


message 33: by Kitty (new)

Kitty Micklemas wrote: ""The Hundred Year Old Man who climbed out the window and disappeared." Very good book, especially for this list."

My thought, exactly.


message 34: by Indra (new)

Indra This is exactly what I need!


message 35: by Dj (new)

Dj Loved the category. Thanks. Hope you keep it up. Enjoyed the other's comments also. My favourite here is The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.


message 36: by Bianca (new)

Bianca Bancroft Elaine wrote: "Bianca wrote: "This is right up my alley! Anyone have any other up-lit recs? Possibly with a diverse cast?"

Does a character with Asperger's count? If so, I highly recommend The Rosie Project. Tha..."


Of course! Thank you for the rec :)


message 37: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Thee Love Song of Queenie Hennessey is wonderful. It's the sequel to HaroLd and it enriches the first book to a new height!


message 38: by Jen (last edited Nov 12, 2018 06:44AM) (new)

Jen Davis Lance I laughed repeatedly while reading The Portable Veblen.


message 39: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy Minor As one who chooses books for a book club, I am interested in the list of up-lit books. I have read many of the ones listed here. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is one of my favorites along with A Man Called Ove. I truly enjoyed The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and have read it twice. I followed the second reading with Three Things About Elsie. I was glad to see The Storied Life of AJ Fikry and The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr.


message 40: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy Minor Kitty wrote: "Micklemas wrote: ""The Hundred Year Old Man who climbed out the window and disappeared." Very good book, especially for this list."

My thought, exactly."


I really liked The 100-Year-Old Man! I laughed out loud as I read. The situations may be improbable, but they are certainly fun and enjoyable!


message 41: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Mobley I loved A Man Called Ove so much I immediately stared reading his other books. So wonderful.


message 42: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Heartburn by Nora Ephron was the perfect book to read during my divorce. It tackled a serious topic in a funny way and gave me hope that everything would be ok!


message 43: by Krista (new)

Krista The Loop The Loop by Joe Coomer by Joe Coomer could be added to this list I think.


message 44: by Krista (new)

Krista I also think that many of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books could fit this category.

For instance:

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde Allie and Bea

Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde Heaven Adjacent


message 45: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Donna wrote: "Eleanor Oliphant is really unique, I loved it, but haven't found anything quite like it. I've read 6 of the novels on this list and enjoyed them all except for Ove. Backman loses something in trans..."
Try Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland. It's very similar to Eleanor Oliphant but with it's own take on damaged heroines


message 46: by Iain (new)

Iain Dalgleish The Ups and Downs of Norman Drudge by Iain Dalgleish.


message 47: by Kitty (new)

Kitty Iain wrote: "The Ups and Downs of Norman Drudge by Iain Dalgleish."
Thanks. Hadn’t heard about that one.


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