Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Books That Make Me Happy

Books that are happy-making, for me, are not necessarily books that are light or fluffy. They're not one genre or another, but there are just some books that make me feel full of goodness, and I don't think happy-making books get enough credit. I always fawn over novels that rip my guts out because I love books that make me feeeeel something, but happy books can also provide a significant rush of feels, so I'm giving them their due. 

The Butterfly Mosque: An American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson is one of my recent reads. You may recognize her name from the Ms. Marvel comics (she's one of the creators), but she's also written extensively about the Middle East and modern Islam in outlets like the New York Times and Atlantic Monthly. This book about her conversion to Islam and her time living in Egypt where she met and married her husband is full of philosophy and her thoughts on religion, but it's also a great story about living abroad, assimilating into a new culture, and the struggles that come with. This book made me cry about every 20 pages with some humbling observation or other. That's no small feat, and it left me really appreciating the opportunity to read it. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is another book I never got 'round to reviewing. I read this one for my #15in30 project back in April. It sat on my e-reader forever, and when I finally picked it up I was swept away by the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state. He decides to leave his reservation school in favor of an all-white high school and the fallout is both personal and deeply emotional. Despite that, Junior has such a great heart, and it's one of those stories you want to stand up and cheer for at the end. 

Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid by J. Maarten Troost is not only in the running for longest title ever, it's one in a long line of Troost's books that I've loved. He's a world traveler with a hell of a sense of humor, and I relished getting to experience the beauty and hardships of China through his eyes. I swear, he did everything, and a lot of it wasn't pretty, but I felt like this was such an honest look at a complicated country.

Hello Kitty: Delicious! by Jacob ChabotIan McGinty, and Jorge Monlongo is a set of wordless illustrated stories, and it's so dang cute. If you're looking for a seriously fast read that will transport you back to childhood and delight you with its artwork, this is the book!

What books have made you happy lately? 



19 comments:

  1. My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes by Fredrik Backman had this effect on me. It did also make me cry but mostly it made me smile. Heidi and A Little Princess on the kid lit side...I was trying really hard to come up with some that I'd read recently that had this effect on me and I'm having trouble. Maybe I've been reading too darkly!

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    1. Ahhh, The Little Princess is so good. I just read it for the first time a few years ago, and it was a delight! I'll have to investigate My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes! Great title.

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  2. I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian too!

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    1. I just wanted to stand up and cheer at the end!

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  3. The Signature of All Things made me very happy. I love this post. :)

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    1. Awww, thanks!!! And I really want to read The Signature of All Things!

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  4. I need to read the Sherman Alexie! I've heard him speak at events and he is so damn funny but I've not read him.

    I recently loved The Royal We and it made me happy. Also, The Improbability of Love. Loved it because it had wit, intelligence and everything wrapped up as it should but not too neatly.

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    1. The Alexie is so good, and I resisted it so long because I really didn't think it was my thing. I'm so glad you reminded me of The Royal We!!!! Totally want to read that one!

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  5. Furiously Happy! It's a hilarious look at a subject that's usually not hilarious at all. Lawson is a godsend.

    Also The Penguin Lessons. I thought it was just delightful.

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    1. I put her first book on my swap wishlist since I haven't read ANYTHING of hers! I really need to suck it up and renew my library card (to the not-great library close by). Oooh! No idea about The Penguin Lessons so off to look it up.

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  6. I absolutely loved the Alexie. My son, who was a teenager when he read it, thought it had too many swear words. I always thought that was hilarious - bit of role reversal, there.

    Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans made me laugh. It's a blend of humorous and serious (set during WWII), not so much laugh-out-loud, side-hurting stuff as wit. That was a few months ago and I'm sitll thinking about it. Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders is a children's book (continuing the characters from Edith Nesbit's Five Children and It) that's also both light-hearted and moving and just flat beautiful. Even the heartbreaking parts are handled well, with gravity but hope. And, although it's sad when you realize how much of what Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked hard to change has not continued to progress and even, at times, been rolled back . . . Notorious RBG is a wonderful bio of a strong, intelligent woman who has spent her entire career working for equality -- and not just for women because she believes equality goes both ways. I know you'll love it. Definitely seek that one. It also shows just how far a woman can go when she has the support of her partner.

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    1. That's so funny that the kiddo objected to the cursing. Ha!

      I'm thrilled with your recs and I'm adding Notorious RBG to my wishlist this very minute!

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  7. I'm really looking forward to The Butterfly Mosque one day! I'm hoping to get it on audio.

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    1. I think you might love it! I hope so!

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  8. The latest book that made me utterly happy was Rainbow Rowell's newest, Carry On. It had sad parts and made me feel things -- because, yeah, not only fluffy books can make you feel happy. Oh, and Salman Rushdie's new book made me really happy too. I sure like him as a writer. Just, like, the experience of reading his words (Rainbow Rowell's too) is happy-making.

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    1. I had my little paws on another Rainbow Rowell (Attachments) this week, but I was trying to control my spending. Blah. Will definitely be reading more. I haven't had as much luck with Rushdie, though. I always feel like I should like this books more, but it's been a while since I tried, so maybe I would!

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  9. I should definitely put some of these on my reading list. There are a few books that always make me happy when I re-read them, or merely thinking about re-reading them! Maybe reading one of my favourites will get me my reading mojo back :(

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  10. I really like Diary of a Part-Time Indian too. It made me laugh out loud the whole time and that's always a good thing.

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  11. A book that made me happy this year was Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. It is the first fiction book I've read where someone had a chronic illness. It moved me so much and it made me happy that I could relate to a character so much.

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