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Reading As Self-Care: Snuggle Up with One Of These 10 Uplifting Novels

by and  | February 17
Sitting in bed with book, cozy socks and dog

I don’t know about you guys, but the past few weeks have been a doozy over at Get Lit HQ and I think it’s safe to say that we could use a break from reality. So if you, like us, are looking for a few novels that will a. keep you captivated enough to not check Twitter, and b. make you feel a little bit better, read on for Get Lit’s top picks.

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated with a new introduction and more recommendations to reflect the current social distancing era.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

by Christina Lauren

Heather’s Pick

Me? Miss an opportunity to recommend my all-time favorite Christina Lauren rom-com? I think not. It’ll come as no surprise that romance novels are my go-to comfort reads, since I recommend them all the time. When life gets overwhelming, I find solace in stories that promise a happy ending, and especially familiar ones. That’s why I can quote whole scenes from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. It’s also why I own both the print AND audio editions of Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, in which two besties swear their feelings for each other are platonic right on through a series of disastrous dates with other people, until it finally hits them like a ton of bricks: They’re in love. With each other. Oops! By turns hilarious and swoony, this book can always be counted on to give me the warm fuzzies.

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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Kelsey’s Pick #1

Thank God this is a convo in print because I'll be honest with you I still don't know how to pronounce my man Ove's name. Some people are saying "OOO-vuh," others swear it's "ooo-vay," and still others claim "ah-vey." It's beyond me. The point is that A Man Called Ove is a GD delight, and the exact type of book you want to get wrapped up in during a time like this. The premise sounds sad (cranky old man trying to kill himself) but it's actually funny, charming, enjoyable to read, and extremely hopeful.

One of my favorites: "Parvaneh gives him a dismissive wave. “Oh, don’t concern yourself about that. Ove is quite clearly UTTERLY LOUSY at dying!” Ove looks quite offended by that."

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Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird

by AJ Pearce

Sienna’s Pick

Emmy is volunteering as a telephone operator for the London fire department during WWII, when she sees an advertisement for what she thinks is a job as a war correspondent for a high-profile newspaper, her dream job. But through a series of miscommunications, it turns out the job is actually that of a typist for the advice columnist Henrietta Bird. Mrs. Bird is no Dear Abby. Letters containing any Unpleasantness must be thrown away unanswered. But when Emmy reads letters from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or mothers who are terrified about having to evacuate their children, she can’t resist answering some of them— even though she places herself in her job at risk. The novel takes place during the height of the Blitz, where bombs are decimating the City every night, yet Emmy is able to remain the epitome of Keep Calm and Carry On with the support of her best friend, Bunty.

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We Are Called to Rise

We Are Called to Rise

by Laura McBride

Kelsey's Pick #2

Sick of me talking about Laura McBride? TOO BAD. Whenever I'm burnt out or just flat-out exhausted by the news cycle, this is the book I cuddle up to. Just read this quote, and you'll understand why:

“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

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The Ingredients of You and Me

The Ingredients of You and Me

by Nina Bocci

Molly’s Pick

Like the first two books in Nina Bocci’s Hopeless Romantics series (On the Corner of Love and Hate and Meet Me on Love Lane), The Ingredients of You and Me takes place in the vibrant, energetic (and, sadly, fictional) small town of Hope Lake, PA. This time the focus is on Parker Adams. After selling her popular New York City bakery, Parker—successful, caring and a bit of a firecracker—decides to visit her best friend Charlotte in Hope Lake and feels invigorated by the town and community. The only complication is being so close to her former flame, the lovable Nick Arthur, who has recently moved on to a new relationship. Knowing Nina Bocci’s work, this is a sweet, funny, romantic story.

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Mornings with Rosemary

Mornings with Rosemary

by Libby Page

Holly’s Pick

For a refreshing, feel-good novel, try reading Mornings with Rosemary by Libby Page. This story tells of an unexpected friendship between an anxious young reporter and an eighty-six-year-old lifelong swimmer. Twenty-something Kate Matthews is assigned to write a piece on the local pool’s closing. This expectedly drab assignment soon transforms into a portrait of one singular woman: Rosemary. The two begin to open up to each other and embark on a nourishing, transformative relationship.

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

by Robin Sloan

Kelsey's Pick #3

Ugh, I love this book. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again this weekend. If you care about books or words or bookstores or stories and want to be reminded that those things are important and have power, this is the book you need to read right now.

"After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

You'll get it once you read it. Get going.

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Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell

Kelsey's Pick #4

There is one author that never lets me down when I need a pick-me-up: Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor & Park is particularly life-giving, but really anything Rainbow Rowell has put on paper is 1000% worth your time. The woman just doles out feels nonstop feels but it's so WELL DONE that you don't feel even the slightest bit silly for getting totally swept up by it.

“There was something about the music on that tape. It felt different. Like, it set her lungs and her stomach on edge. There was something exciting about it, and something nervous. It made Eleanor feel like everything, like the world, wasn't what she'd thought it was. And that was a good thing. That was the greatest thing.”

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Media Tie-In Edition)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Media Tie-In Edition)

by Jenny Han

Emily’s Pick

You may have seen the movie, but if you thought about stopping there without reading the book, you’re missing out! The movie may have the adorable Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, but it doesn’t have uplifting, optimistic prose that tugs at your heart strings like this: “It’s fun to think of the what-if. Scary, but fun. It’s like, I thought this door was closed before, but here it is open just the tiniest crack. What if?”

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An Unnecessary Woman

An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine

Kelsey's Pick #5

I know, seems like a weird choice, but hear me out. Even though it's a somewhat...shall we say...somber premise (a woman lives alone translating stockpiles of books into Arabic that no one will ever read), this book falls squarely in the "it all matters" category. Not to mention the "power of literature" category, which is what this is at its heart. Not to mention the writing itself is gorgeous.

“When I read a book, I try my best, not always successfully, to let the wall crumble just a bit, the barricade that separates me from the book. I try to be involved.

I am Raskalnikov. I am K. I am Humbert and Lolita.

I am you.

If you read these pages and think I'm the way I am because I lived through a civil war, you can't feel my pain. If you believe you're not like me because one woman, and only one, Hannah, chose to be my friend, then you're unable to empathize.”

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Photo Credit // istock / Mkovalevskaya

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Kelsey is the Assistant Director of Marketing at Scribner Books, meaning she spends a percentage of every week coming up with Instagram posts for book hashtags on @scribnerbooks. She has been an avid reader ever since she got in trouble for reading Nancy Drew books under her desk during grade school. She is also a freelance writer whose work can be found in the likes of Refinery 29, TIME, Business Insider, Fast Company, Brit + Co, and more.