8 Feel Good Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Open for joy.

By Isabelle Eyman

I was destined to be an English major. Sure, I tacked French onto my diploma as well, but if there’s one area of study I identify with most, it’s that of the bookish, always-reading literature enthusiast. Perhaps it’s that sense of possibility I’ve always felt when I enter a library, or the palpable warmth found on the shelves of my favorite bookstores. Whatever it is, having my head in one of my happy books is the best place to be.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by countless folks who share my love of reading (and its physical representation, too—new book smell, anyone?). I’ve met my best friends at book clubs, bonded with strangers over our mutual appreciation for the classics, and I grow more inspired each day by the recommendations shared by my Camille Styles fam. Seriously—we have a Slack channel dedicated to recos and start every editorial team meeting reflecting on what we’ve been reading. We’re that obsessed.

To let you in on the literary goodness, we pooled our Goodreads and rounded up the books we reach for and read (and re-read) whenever we’re in need of a mood boost. While the list includes those you wouldn’t immediately label “happy books,” they all inspire us to love deeper, laugh harder, and live fuller each day. Now that I think of it, isn’t that happiness?

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Iskra Lawrence reading_happy books

8 Happy Books to Inspire Personal Growth

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The same author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things wrote her first non-fiction book about creative living. You can get a physical copy, but I recommend getting an audiobook for this one. I’ve listened to this book so many times over the last couple of years, reaching for it whenever I need extra words of encouragement or wisdom. — Nihel, Social Media Manager

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg

While this isn’t a book that’ll make you laugh out loud or smile at quippy, clever sentences, it is a beautiful work that’s filled with resonant epiphanies about what it means, as a woman, to live a life that’s authentic and true to you. If you read A Room of One’s Own in college and immediately felt the need to push forward with strength and independence, consider this a softer manifesto—but a manifesto nonetheless.

Lindberg’s writing will inspire you not only to create space for yourself each day but to obsessively write out half of the book’s sentences and post the affirmations all around your house. I’m speaking from personal experience.

My favorite line (and perhaps the book’s most famous quote): “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” — Isabelle, Managing Editor

The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest

I can’t get enough of Brianna Wiest. I began reading one of her other incredibly popular (and for good reason) books, 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, and my life was forever changed. Her mastery recently blew me away in The Mountain Is You, a book about why we can’t escape our most toxic habits and how we must step out of our own way to reach our potential. It’s a reference book for life—one you’ll want to start your day with and give to all your closest friends. — Edie, Wellness Contributor

Diana Ryu bookshelf_happy books
Image by Teal Thomsen

Group by Christie Tate

Upon first glance, you might be thinking: hmmm, a summer feel-good read? But trust me when I tell you that this page-turner had me inspired and hopeful that with enough tenacity and a whole lot of hard work, all of us really can live our best lives. While sometimes, the paths we end up on may not have been what we had always dreamt of, there’s beauty to be found in the unexpected. — Anne, Contributing Editor

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

For this one, I saw the movie first. (It’s on Netflix—you must watch!) In a rare case, I loved the film and the book equally. The synopsis: A London writer bonds with the colorful residents of Guernsey as she learns about the book club they formed during the WWII German occupation.

If you love tropes like “found family” and “small-town-hunk-makes-big-city-fiancé seem like a bore,” then this book is for you. It’s told by way of letters, which I found thoroughly creative and engaging. I thought it might take away some of the heart and detail of the story, but it was quite the opposite. It’s a quick read and while some of the plot lines are heavy, they’re handled with such delicacy and care. I loved the ending, too. — Brittany, Content Marketing Director

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I keep it by my bed so I can pick it up and read a random chapter whenever I need something uplifting. I cry every time I read it, but in a good way that makes me want to hug everyone I love and never take them for granted. Bonus: You can read this book from start to finish in about an hour. — Camille, Editor-in-Chief

Olivia Joffrey bookshelf_happy books
Image by Julie Pointer Adams

Anything and everything by Fannie Flagg

Why you recommend it: You’ve likely heard her name attached to the famous, made-into-another-feel-good-movie, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. But trust me: Flagg has plenty more goodness to come. At age 77, she has 11 books under her belt (written between 1981 and 2020). Each book features relatable, lovable, and quirky characters who find themselves triumphing against many diverse challenges (that often involve epic stories and journeys). While you should definitely commence your deep-dive immediately, I’d recommend easing your way in with my favorites: Standing in the Rainbow and I Still Dream About You. — Isabelle, Managing Editor

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff 

If you want to know about Taoism through witty and brilliant dialogue, look no further than The Tao of Pooh. This beautiful, digestible book shares practical life lessons that can help lead you to your own personal moral code. Think of this less as an intro to religion and more of a guide to finding happiness, fulfillment, and purpose through identifying the things that matter—and leaving the rest. — Brandy, Motherhood Contributor