As we are all trying to cope with the coronavirus social distancing, I thought it would be nice to share the 10 uplifting books I like. These books helped me get through some sad times. Some of them are light reading; some of them are timeless classics. But all of them are amazing books!
I tried to create a list that will appeal to everyone, so it is definitely a mixed bag. They’ll take you all around the world from Egypt to Russia and Italy to France. So enjoy and stay safe!
10 Uplifting Books to Read While Social Distancing
The Enchanted April – Elizabeth Von Arnim
Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, cowed and neglected by their husbands, make a daring plan: they will have a holiday. Leaving a drab and rainy London one April and arriving on the shores of the Mediterranean, they discover a flower-filled paradise of beauty, warmth and so leisure. Joined by the beautiful Lady Caroline and domineering Mrs Fisher, also in flight from the burdens of their daily lives, the four women proceed to transform themselves and their prospects.
The Awakening of Miss Prim – Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbours, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.
Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn’t suspect that she might find love – nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky, would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery and fireside debate. The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy and the search for happiness.
The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain
Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street and feels impelled to return it to its owner. The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
In spring 1962 American actress Dee Moray’s boat motors into an Italian bay and the life of hotelier Pasquale Tursi. Dee – fleeing a film set, claiming to be dying and desperately awaiting her lover – throws herself on Pasquale’s generous mercy. Fifty years later Pasquale lands in Hollywood, sporting a fedora and seeking a long-forgotten actress. Why he’s come, what happened to Dee in Italy and, so later, LA, are questions that Beautiful Ruins answers in the most surprising and wonderfully entertaining manner.
Just Kids – Patti Smith
In 1967, a chance meeting between two young people led to a romance and a lifelong friendship that would carry each to international success never dreamed of. The backdrop is Brooklyn, Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, Scribner’s Bookstore, Coney Island, Warhol’s Factory and the whole city resplendent. Among their friends, literary lights, musicians and artists such as Harry Smith, Bobby Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, Sandy Daley, Sam Shepherd, William Burroughs, etc.
It was a heightened time politically and culturally; the art and music worlds exploding and colliding. In the midst of all this two kids made a pact to always care for one another. Scrappy, romantic, committed to making art, they prodded and so provided each other with faith and confidence during the hungry years–the days of cous-cous and lettuce soup.
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody Series) – Elizabeth Peters
The first Amelia Peabody adventure, in which she comes into her inheritance and decides to see the world. Rescuing Evelyn Barton-Forbes on her way, so she arrives in Egypt where they meet Radcliffe Emerson, an archaeologist who doesn’t need help from women – or so he thinks.
Possession: A Romance – A. S. Byatt
Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and so their quest becomes a battle against time.
WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.
Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, so he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.
Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories – Luis Sepulveda
In a remote river town deep in the Ecuadoran jungle, Antonio José Bolívar seeks refuge in amorous novels. But tourists and so opportunists are making inroads into the area, and the balance of nature is making a dangerous shift. Translated by Peter Bush.
Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner
Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville, and so her chance to escape from a life of humiliating loneliness is renewed.
‘A classic. A book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now’ Spectator
If you think these 10 uplifting books are not enough and want more recommendations, check out my Reading Projects. I’m sure you’ll find many books for your taste. Also, visit my Instagram profile as well and join the conversation: @elifthereader. Happy reading!