Chicks On Lit discussion

Books that make you HAPPY

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim The other day, someone asked me: Why is so much "good" literature so depressing and have so many dark themes in it? After a LONG talk about the nature of the human being and what we're drawn to and the need for human connection about universal things, I found myself exhausted. As a teacher, I know how important it is to read and discuss all this darkness. But since my daughter was born three and a half years ago, I find myself wanting lighter, happier reads as well. And I think they are JUST as important as the dark stuff. So, as a writer, I'm at work on my second novel and determined to write a FUN book - something that's just fun to read, a little literary, but mostly just something to ENJOY. And as a reader, I am trying to read books right now that make me happy, but that are really well-written and funny and hopeful. So much of the "happy" stuff gets tossed aside as being "fluff" or being "cheesy" and I'm having trouble wading through all that. I'm wondering if people have suggestions for really well-written, good books that are just FUN and make you HAPPY while reading them. Suggestions?

message 2: by Amanda (last edited Mar 03, 2008 05:39PM) (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments Oh my god. Kim, that post is soooo LOADED! I can't imagine there being any such thing--not both fun and happy. I can think of fun stuff--Sthepen Colbert's I Am America. I can think of stuff that makes me hopeful--Chronicles of Narnia, About A Boy (movie not book, as I stated in some other thread). None of these are exactly "happy" though. I'm really going to ponder this, Kim. What do the rest of you think? Intriguing...

message 3: by Kim (new)

Kim I know, right? :-) I think a book like The Book of Joe made me feel this way (but not the hopeful part...hmmm....) See, this is why I'm asking!? :-)

message 4: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Im stumped too. I looked through my list of books and most of them has some depressing factor to them. I will go back to the classics. Emma is just pure fun and a wonderful read.
Modern day lit though...thats a toughy. For some reason anything that is too happy gets put in the fluff or chicklit catagory which isnt fair at all.

message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebeccabird) | 12 comments I adore the story, "The Grass Harp" by Truman Capote,any Nick Hornby book will put a smile on my face, "High Fidelity", "About A Boy". I love any Roddy Doyle book. period. Especially the Barrytown Trilogy with "The Commitments", "The Snapper" and "The Van". Being a teacher, I love so many children's books...anything by Mo Willems can make me laugh...Dr. many. I don't have time to name them today!

message 6: by Peanut (new)

Peanut | 149 comments Harry Potter series is fun although there are a few sad parts. I think that is a part of life though. Happy and sad combined. A good author/book will make use of both.

Most classic books will make use of all those feelings.

message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments I don't disagree with you about Harry Potter. But if we're looking for books that make you happy without being dark, then HP surely gets kicked out of the running.

You know, you are right though, Peanut. Happy and sad combined. Yin and Yang. The universe will always seek balance. :)

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie My favorite laugh out loud hysterical book is THE QUENN AND I, by Sue Townsend. My mom read it and didn't think it was that funny but for me I tell you I looooooooooooooove that book! Give it a try!

message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rebeccabird) | 12 comments My husband and I still get a kick out of Beatrix Potter. Our favorite is Tom Kitten. Holy Lord that is some funny Britishy stuff.

message 10: by Kim (new)

Kim I LOVE Tom Kitten, and Nick Hornby and Harry Potter...alll good and, yes, dark and light for sure make a good story. I'm going to check out the Sue Townsend book -thanks!

message 11: by Julie (new)

Julie Kim be sure to tell me what you think of the Quenn and I, I need to make sure I am not the only one who thinks it is hilarious!

message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim It looks really funny...I just read some reviews on Amazon...are the Adrian Mole books fun?

message 13: by Julie (new)

Julie I haven't read the Adrian Mole books but I just checked out number 10 from the library. The picture looks funny!

message 14: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 3 comments Not true fiction, but books that crack me up are Bill Bryson's travelogues. They are funny, real life adventures of Bill and those "people" he encounters along the road. Can't help but read bits of these to your friend/spouse/partner as you go along they are so funny.

But, otherwise I agree, I am hard pressed to find a heart warming modern story of late. May need to think about it a bit. Could be why I read so much pulp fiction to fill in the literature gaps....

message 15: by Kim (new)

Kim I really love travelogues and I agree with you that there is some fabulous writing and funny stuff out there - I loved, for example, The Sex Lives of Cannibals - that was really good.

message 16: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (andreag) | 74 comments Kim,

All of Jasper Fforde's novels are fun, clever and amazing. The literary references and how he borrows characters from other books is phenomenal.

I also really enjoyed Kiran Desai's Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard. It had a wonderful sense of location. The book takes a sly poke at how people fall for the latest hot trend... in this case a ne'er do well son, who becomes a hermit and accidental holy man.

One of my all time favorite authors is Robertson Davies. Several of his books are small wonders of crisp prose, small town life, humor, and a Canadian version of magical realism. That's happy reading...


message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim Thank you, Andrea! The Eyre Affair looks wonderful - I just added it to my to-read list. And Robertson Davies too :-) I love books with a small town flare - it's why I've always loved Richard Russo.

message 18: by Holli (new)

Holli I thought this topic was another good one....what books make you happy? I love my feel good everything always works out perfectly Danielle Steel novels for that......

message 19: by Mandee (last edited May 06, 2009 12:00AM) (new)

Mandee (amandalinajanel) | 69 comments This might seem weird, but well written children's books almost always make me happy.... and hopeful, too...

They're usually fun/pretty/etc, and have a good message.

so I guess I'm with Teri on this one... :)

message 20: by Angie (new)

Angie Ah mandee I DO agree. Things like "Oh the Places You'll Go" and the Ramona books....Little House on the Prairie books, even the Velveteen Rabbit. Make me happy. And lately when I read to my 5 yr old - we take turns reading and we use different voices for eahc page. It is hysterical. That makes me happy. :) So does the Bible, and my 5 Good Minutes book. On and The Quiet Center is one I read and reread and it makes me happy.

Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) | 369 comments I do agree..some of my favorite books from my childhood really make me happy!

message 22: by Nadia (new)

Nadia A (bagambo) One book that always makes me happy is A Confederacy of Dunces - mainly because it makes me laugh out loud at the absurd nature of Ignatius and his philosophical scribblings. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series always make me happy. They are a wonderful escape into a beautiful foreign country, filled with interesting characters and loads of red bush tea. These books always leave me smiling. However, some books that are a bit dark in nature,like anything by Jean Rhys or In Cold Blood by Capote, leave me in a happy daze - not due to the subject matter, but due to the brilliance of the writing and the ways in which these authors were capable of creating such fantastic and refreshing works. Brilliant writing always makes me happy.

message 23: by Pam (new)

Pam (pamelaprev) | 18 comments The dialogue in Pat Conroy's books always makes me laugh out loud. It's so spot-on and real.

message 24: by Rachelle (new)

Rachelle James Lee Burke novels make me happy, the way he describes his locations, I feel like i'm sitting beside his characters. I love those little details, being able to create such a place in my head. I'm easily pleased, lol.

message 25: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments Good topic!
Doesn't it almost go hand in hand that you have to have a few bumps in the road to appreciate the smooth asphalt when you come to it??
I think if you have a happy or feel good fiction, you do get that fluff feel to it because we all know that real life is not like that. It is what you take away from a bad situation that makes you cheer for the down and out characters in books. I was going to say that if it is all feel good that is more like a fairytale but if you look at fairy tales you see that they are not all good but they did learn something along the way and hopefully so does the reader. :)

Anne of Green Gables is a great one for seeing the bumps and then appreciating the good that comes out of it. Rebecca of SunnyBrook farm too.

message 26: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Along KrisT's line--"A Little Princess." For fun, there's always the Stephanie Plum books from Janet Evanovich.

message 27: by Mich (new)

Mich | 150 comments Jenn Lancasters books are total hoots... Bright Lights,Big Ass is a riot...

message 28: by Suze (new)

Suze (suzed) | 68 comments It's so hard for me to pick a few books that make me happy because any truly well written book gives me pleasure. I agree, there are some really depressing books but I simply don't read them (thank you Amazon, for your 'search inside this book' feature)....unless my book club chooses one. (it happens now and then)

Nelson DeMille's sarcastic wit makes me laugh out loud, every time, and so does Lisa Scottoline. 'Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass LookBig' by Jen Lancaster was very funny.

That said, I love reading so much that the simple act of doing it makes me happy. If it happens to be a terrific book, I'm even happier!

message 29: by Annabell (last edited May 06, 2009 01:51PM) (new)

Annabell (writingfien) | 19 comments I love both dark and happy. All depends on my mood. I also love writing both. I think people are attacrted to both because darkness and light exist in human beings.

Meg Cabot writes great chick lit that is fun and happy. Size 12 Is Not Fat, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either and Big Boned are really fun books and will make you laugh a ton.

message 30: by Cyndi (new)

Cyndi (chill77) Mich wrote: "Jenn Lancasters books are total hoots... Bright Lights,Big Ass is a riot... "
I agree, Mich! Hers always make me laugh out loud!

message 31: by Cyndi (new)

Cyndi (chill77) Another series that makes me laugh is the Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot. I just can't believe some of the stuff this lady says.

message 32: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I have to agree with many others that when I'm in a funk I reach for J/YA. I always loved Judy Bloom (Super Fudge? c'mon) and Paula Danziger (The Cat Ate My Gymsuit). I also have to say that Shakespeare makes me happy, even the tragedies, because there's always comic relief in there someplace, too.

message 33: by ReneeB (new)

ReneeB Janet Evanovich books make me happy. Stephanie Plum makes me laugh out loud.

message 34: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8 comments I have to say that I turn to David Sedaris when I need a good laugh. He is one of the only authors that I catch myself laughing out loud to when I read his books. And he's fantastic in person if you ever get a chance to catch a reading of his.

message 35: by Kate (new)

Kate | 96 comments I agree with Heather about Sedaris.

Also, the book that recently made me laugh out loud like crazy was actually a memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, THE CACTUS EATERS by Dan White. He decides to go into long-distance hiking with his girlfriend without knowing much about it--and so it's one misadventure after another.

How about re-reading some children's classics? My favorite is HARRIET THE SPY. Re-reading it as an adult was a blast.

Aimee Bender's short stories are always great for a sideways laugh and an "ah ha!" weirdness factor.

TIPPING THE VELVET by Sarah Waters is a romp of a novel--a faux Victorian. A great read and often hilarious.

EGALIA'S DAUGHTERS: A SATIRE OF THE SEXES is a blast to read. It's very funny yet makes great comments about gender roles. It's about a world in which men and women's roles are reversed (just social roles, not biological ones). Men are called "Manwoms" because they are derivative of women, who are called "Woms." It's hard to wrap your mind around talking about it, but it really works on the page.

message 36: by Brandie (new)

Brandie (brandiemichelle) I agree with everyone that said Jen Lancaster books. She is a riot and I love reading her stuff. Other books that make me happy are by Emily Giffin and Nicholas Sparks. Never read anything by them that I don't really enjoy!

message 37: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird make me happy. I think GWTW because of the love story that I believe will turn out happily for Scarlett and her determination inspires me. And TKAM because of how Scout views things differently at the end. They both leave me in tears, but not tears of sorrow, tears of hope.

message 38: by Nadia (new)

Nadia A (bagambo) I like chick lit books too - they make me happy. The Shopaholic series or Emily Giffin books or Jane Green books always leave me feeling better.

message 39: by Annabell (new)

Annabell (writingfien) | 19 comments The Stephanie Plum series is great, too. They're funny books. Stephanie's grandmother will have you crackin' up like crazy!! Also "Murder Gets a Life" and "Murder Boogies with Elvis" by Anne George. Those ladies are a trip to read!

message 40: by Frances (last edited May 07, 2009 10:57AM) (new)

Frances | 3 comments um...I like this... books that make me happy

"I like myself" a childrens book I adore!
"Nappy Hair" ...another childrens book I adore!
"Wideacre Series"...I was anxious to get home to read what happens next!!!!
The Ursula Blanchard series by Fiona Buckley was highly entertaining, and anything by Lauri Notaro (I think I spelled her name wrong), but anyway she is hilarious!

Elizabeth (Alaska) I laughed out loud reading 84, Charing Cross Road, which is non-fiction, but I don't see any reason why the humor within couldn't be written as fiction. Helene Hanff was a funny woman, but also a generous woman who made me feel good. The melodramatic style of The Shadow of the Wind made me happy to be reading. I cannot say enough times that the book is fun to read. That said, however, I would hesitate to make a steady diet of books that make me happy. Into every life a little rain must fall (says she who lives in a rain forest).

message 42: by Nadia (new)

Nadia A (bagambo) Hiya Elizabeth from Alaska! I have heard great things about 84, Charing Cross Road and have always been interested in reading it. I have also heard that there is another book that continues from that one. Have you read that one? Is that one any good too? I think that they sell a book that contains both, like an omnibus.

message 43: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Elizabeth, That is the word I was looking for to describe Shadow of the Wind--melodramatic. Just finished it and it was well worth the read. A little different style than I normally pick; but great book!

message 44: by Ashley (new)

Ashley  (angelashly) | 9 comments When I want to laugh I read the Stephanie Plum books.

Jen Lancaster is good for laughs too.
Plus the Jessica Darling series was pretty good. It is from Megan McCafferty.

I liked the Harry Potter books too.

message 45: by Pam (new)

Pam (pamelaprev) | 18 comments Elizabeth... my neighbor just finished Shadow of the Wind and was raving about it the other day. I'm definitely going to add it to my TBR list. It sounds worthwhile. Thanks!

Elizabeth (Alaska) Nadia wrote: "Hiya Elizabeth from Alaska! I have heard great things about 84, Charing Cross Road and have always been interested in reading it. I have also heard that there is another book that continues from th..."

No, I didn't know there is another. I learned of this one because of a challenge in another club that wanted an "epistolary" novel, or one written in letters. It's just a short little thing and I've been told there is a movie. (As for epistolary novels, I have just received Guernsey, which will be devoured soon.)

message 47: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hi everyone, I just joined this group moments ago, and feel compelled to recommend "Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader" by Anne Fadiman as a fun and happy read, especially for all of you bookworms! It's a series of autobiographical short "stories" about a woman and her love of books and everything to do with words. Give it a try!

message 48: by Robin (new)

Robin | 5 comments I know Kate's commented on here and I want to say her book For The May Queen makes me happy beucause it's very very funny and heartwarming and surprsing. Good for a smile and a laugh.

Water For Elephants is another one that is good. Yes it is sad but its also funny and lifiting.

message 49: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Robin, Glad to hear that about For the May Queen; it is on my list of books to read!

message 50: by Holli (new)

Holli I absolutely loved For The May Queen!!

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