Happiness can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s family or finding family in a clan of friends. For others, it’s working in tandem with nature and animals under the open sky. And yet for others, it’s embracing passion for a person, cause, or hobby. Wherever you find your bliss, these books are sure to clear the way to a happier state of mind.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
This New York Times bestseller is an illustrated fable but perfect for philosophical-minded adults who enjoyed The Alchemist and The Giving Tree. A comforting read centered on friendship, kindness, and finding meaning in life.
Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
For rom-com fans aching to vicariously go on a euro trip from the safety of home, the heroine of this novel, dazedly phoning-in on life for the past seven years as a corporate fundraiser, takes a sabbatical and travels to the last three places where she was happy — Ireland, France, and Italy — in hopes of reconnecting with her sense of joy and perhaps a few of the men from her past along the way.
The Big Door Prize by M. O. Walsh
In this Southern small-town tale, members of a Louisiana community revisit the possibility of following their long-abandoned dreams and pursuing what makes them truly happy when a mysterious machine appears in the local grocery store. It looks like a photo booth but spits out each user’s life’s calling on a slip of blue paper.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
One of the strongest debuts made by a new author in many years, this feel-good novel is charming and comedic while also harboring a heartbreaking mystery at its core. Socially awkward Eleanor, 29, leads a solitary existence as an office worker until the new IT guy homes in on her as a potential friend, disrupting and wonderfully transforming her carefully cultivated life.
The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks
Far from Hawaii and yet similar in its pride of place, northwestern England is the setting of this refreshingly unsentimental yet poetic memoir of rural life. It reminds us that city luxuries cannot rival the contentment found in rootedness to the land and, even more so, the deep sense of family for those who have stewarded that land for generations.
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard
A full belly may be the very definition of happiness and this cookbook, filled with comfort food recipes tailored to be quick and easy, even includes one-pot meals and dinners that can be prepped the night before, making it ideal for busy people. Cardamom apple fritters, spinach and artichoke mac and cheese, lobster tacos, Moroccan salmon, and fresh corn and zucchini lasagna are just a few of the delectable offerings.
Given the upheaval of 2020, many are finding it hard to feel centered. When we’re already overwhelmed, even the smallest of modern life’s hiccups can throw off the best of us. The author of this book, a former Vedic monk turned popular podcaster, offers a practical approach to bringing more calm into daily habits.
Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler
The author of The Secrets of Happy Families and host of PBS’ Sacred Journeys shares insights from 225 interviews he conducted with people across the U.S. about their life stories. Reassuring and encouraging in tone, this book gently guides readers in navigating tough times and remaining buoyant through life’s ups and downs.
Lauren Yamasaki is the Adult Fiction Librarian at the Hawaii State Library.