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 of 10 uplifting books 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
A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.
The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon. The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.
The Enchanted April was a best-seller in both England and the United States, where it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and set off a craze for tourism to Portofino. More recently, the novel has been the inspiration for a major film and a Broadway play. This is one of the most popular books on 10 Uplifting Books list.
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. One of the light books on 10 uplifting books list, an easy read for everyone.
The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain
One of my all-time favourite on the 10 uplifting books list. Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. 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?
The Red Notebook has already been sold in twelve different languages. French TV is making a film of The President’s Hat and the movie rights of The Red Notebook have been sold to UGC.
Antoine Laurain was born in Paris. He is the author of five novels, including The President’s Hat. After reading this, his books will become an unchanging name on your 10 uplifting books list.
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
An excellent choice if you want to travel to Italy on 10 uplifting books list. The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.
Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams. This gem on the 10 uplifting books list will take you to warm places.
Just Kids – Patti Smith
If you love nonfiction choose this one among 10 uplifting books. 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. A must on my 10 uplifting books list.
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody Series) – Elizabeth Peters
This is high on my 10 uplifting books list. Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters’ most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men’s pants and no-nonsense attitude!
In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress – Evelyn Barton-Forbes – and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn’t need women to help him solve mysteries — at least that’s what he thinks!
I love this series and have a reading project to read all the books in the series. One of my very favourite on 10 uplifting books list as well as cosy mysteries.
Possession: A Romance – A. S. Byatt
A literary fiction gem among 10 uplifting books. Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “a gifted observer, able to discern the exact details that bring whole worlds into being” and “a storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for a thousand and one nights,” A. S. Byatt writes some of the most engaging and skilful novels of our time. Time magazine calls her “a novelist of dazzling inventiveness.”
Possession, for which Byatt won England’s prestigious Booker Prize, was praised by critics on both sides of the Atlantic when it was first published in 1990. “On academic rivalry and obsession, Byatt is delicious. On the nature of possession—the lover by the beloved, the biographer by his subject—she is profound,” said The Sunday Times (London). The New Yorker dubbed it “more fun to read than The Name of the Rose…
Its prankish verve [and] monstrous richness of detail [make for] a one-woman variety show of literary styles and types.” The novel traces a pair of young academics—Roland Michell and Maud Bailey—as they uncover a clandestine love affair between two long-dead Victorian poets. Interwoven in a mesmerizing pastiche are love letters and fairytales, extracts from biographies and scholarly accounts, creating a sensuous and utterly delightful novel of ideas and passions.
With an Introduction by the author that describes the novel’s origins and its twenty-year gestation, this Modern Library edition is a handsome keepsake for fans of Possession—new and old alike. Easily the only book on my 10 uplifting books list that I recommend to everyone.
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
A good contemporary fiction among 10 uplifting books. From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel
With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.”
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humour, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose. A new favourite on my 10 uplifting books list and it is set in a hotel!
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories – Luis Sepulveda
Number 1 on my 10 uplifting books list. 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.
This is one of my all time favourite books and in my opinion, it deserves to be in everyones 10 uplifting books list. It is a gem.
Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner
In the novel that won her the Booker Prize and established her international reputation, Anita Brookner finds a new vocabulary for framing the eternal question “Why love?” It tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a psudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to resore her to her senses.
But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love’s casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure. Beautifully observed, witheringly funny, Hotel du Lac is Brookner at her most stylish and potently subversive.
‘A classic. A book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now’ Spectator
I’ve read this book years ago but I still remember how it made me feel. It should be on your 10 uplifting books list as well.
Check out my other lists about books!
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!