recommend positive books
March 30, 2010 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Too broad, but oh well-- Please recommend clean, uplifting, life-affirming, feel-good books, nearly any genre.

Can be fantasy, western, autobiography, young adult, drama, action etc. About the only thing I don't like are plays and short stories
Would like to avoid books with lots of swearing and/or sex.

Some books I've read that fit my criteria:

Endurance--Shackelton's incredible Voyage by Lansing
Les Miserables by Hugo
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
The Power of One by Courtnay
The Bronze Bow by Speare
Magnificent Obsession by Douglas
All Creatures Great and Small (and its sequels) by Herriot
The Outsiders by Hinton
Dances with Wolves by Blake

If you've read any of those, you'll note that while not many of them are all happy and sunshine, they are ultimately life-affirming and positive, IMO.
Thank you!
posted by luvmywife to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Wodehouse is my go-to author for light upliftery. I suggest Leave it To Psmith.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:08 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just recommended this book in another thread but I think it really fits the bill here too: The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Life-affirming and uplifting without being cheesy or saccharine.
posted by amethysts at 8:12 AM on March 30, 2010

All of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and most anything else by Alexander McCall Smith.
posted by jquinby at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

"The Last Coin", or "The Elfin Ship" and its sequels by James Blaylock
"Three Men in a Boat" and "Three Men on the Bummel" by Jerome K. Jerome.
"Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington
"Blessings in Disguise", Alec Guinness' autobiography
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2010

Bill Bryson is probably a good bet. Try A Walk in the Woods; while it might be a bit more funny than uplifting, I'd say it's both. It certainly is funny.
posted by tss at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2010

nb: might be some swearing, but I didn't think there was an excess...
posted by tss at 8:18 AM on March 30, 2010

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
posted by hattifattener at 8:19 AM on March 30, 2010

I found A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel to be utterly charming. Quite light.

I remember that when I read it I thought that Three Cups of Tea was also good.
posted by mireille at 8:21 AM on March 30, 2010

The Chosen, Chaim Potok.
posted by norm at 8:34 AM on March 30, 2010

Anything by David James Duncan, but particularly The River Why.
posted by vytae at 8:37 AM on March 30, 2010

Holes by Louis Sachar.
posted by creepygirl at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2010

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
posted by sallybrown at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2010

The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery.

Tisha -- an autobiography in the style of Christy.

Seconding Greg Nog's suggestion for Wodehouse -- I personally prefer Summer Moonshine.

For something by a modern writer, So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger.
posted by paisley sheep at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2010

Travels With Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck.
posted by Sam Ryan at 9:29 AM on March 30, 2010

Anything by LM Montgomery

Anything by Booth Tarkington (I particularly like Seventeen)

Thirding PG Wodehouse (especially the Jeeves stories and novels)

Seconding Alexander McCall Smith, especially Ladies No 1 Detective Agency books

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

posted by Go Banana at 9:51 AM on March 30, 2010

The Immense Journey, by Loren Eiseley;
Somerset Maugham's books I love because they are well-written and eventually uplifting,especially, "The Merry Go-Round." It does have some sex, but not graphic;
yes, PG Wodehouse;
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:02 AM on March 30, 2010

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Passage by Connie Willis (Warning for extreme tear-jerkiness ... but I think it is life-affirming.)
The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams (Ditto.)
posted by bettafish at 10:03 AM on March 30, 2010

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson.
posted by valkyryn at 10:12 AM on March 30, 2010

Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, by Joseph Jaworski.
posted by laurajo at 10:47 AM on March 30, 2010

eureka street by robert wilson; bit of swearing; funny and uplifting in spite of realism
posted by bloodandglitter at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2010

If you like "Endurance", then "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson ought to do the trick, though you'll sweat a bit.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2010

It's a YA novel, but I see you have The Outsiders on there, so... Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and its sequel are both lovely.

And Illusions by Richard Bach has been an influential book in my life.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2010

The Starbridge series by Susan Howatch tends to be my literary comfort food, though the ecclesiastical setting may not be your cup of tea. The first six books are the best, there are sequels but the quality seems to decline with each new volume.
posted by rjs at 12:17 PM on March 30, 2010

And when I'm up for something lighter there's always The hitchiker's guide to the galaxy.
posted by rjs at 12:20 PM on March 30, 2010

I would say just about anything by Terry Pratchett, but especially the Discworld novels. Depending on the target audience, there may be some slightly less appealing characters(Death, with hood and scythe is a recurring character, although not a creepy one). In my experience, it's almost impossible to read his stuff and not have a smile on your face at the end.
posted by specialnobodie at 12:30 PM on March 30, 2010

Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow.

J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country.
posted by stuck on an island at 1:50 PM on March 30, 2010

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (it's been a few years since I read it, so I can't remember how much sex is in it).
posted by kattyann at 7:51 PM on March 30, 2010

Surviving terrible conditions is always good for a lucky-to-be-alive uplift. Two good ones I can recommend:

We die alone

Into thin air

look at all the' customers also bought' in these pages too.
posted by lalochezia at 8:15 PM on March 30, 2010

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
posted by thorny at 8:23 PM on March 30, 2010

Both are somewhat obscure titles and fairly light reading:
"Trustee From the Toolroom" by Nevil Shute
"A Guide to the Birds of East Africa" by Nicholas Drayson
posted by of strange foe at 9:20 AM on March 31, 2010

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