March is Optimism Month—the perfect time to reflect on what optimism is and how we can benefit from having a positive attitude. Optimists believe that events in their lives will have positive outcomes and that failures in life are simply temporary experiences.
It may seem quaint to be an optimist, but optimism has been proven to have positive effects on both mental and physical health. A decades-long study suggests that individuals with higher optimism live longer lives and are less affected by the negative effects of certain illnesses. In other words, being an optimist can have a huge effect on your overall quality of life.
It can take time to develop the mental skills and habits of an optimist. Practicing mindfulness, creating a vision board, or writing in a gratitude journal are all practices that can help you look on the bright side of life. For more tips on flexing your optimism muscles, check out these 5 Steps to Being More of an Optimist.
In the meantime, read a book that reminds you of all the good in the world. Whether you’re looking for fiction or nonfiction, these titles are bound to make you feel warm, fuzzy and positively optimistic.
Feel Good Fiction
By the Book – A modern take on the classic Beauty and the Beast, this enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy throws together an aspiring editor and a brooding author. Can this beauty tame her beast and secure her place in publishing, or is this fairy tale doomed from the beginning?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Told through an exchange of letters between strangers, we discover the extraordinary World War II tale of the occupation of a British island and the residents’ creative way of fighting back. Written with warmth and humor, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its forms, and of finding connection in surprising ways.
The House in the Cerulean Sea – In this feel-good fantasy by Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune, a case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth has his life turned upside down by a special assignment. Linus may have always been a company man, but this visit forces him to question everything he thought he knew about the world—and himself.
It's Not All Downhill From Here – When an unexpected loss turns her thriving world upside down, 68-year-old Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness and determination to keep on flourishing, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. All with a little help from her friends, of course.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Narrated by the voice of Music itself, the story follows Frankie Presto, a war orphan born in a burning church, through his extraordinary journey around the world. Raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain and gifted with a talent to change people’s lives—using six mysterious blue strings—Frankie navigates the musical landscape of the 20th century, from the 1950s jazz scene to the Grand Ole Opry to Elvis mania and Woodstock, all the while searching for his childhood love.
A Man Called Ove – In this charming debut from one of Sweden's most successful authors, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. This thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks in January 2023.
The Music of Bees – Three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing—and maybe even a second chance—just when they least expect it. A moving tale of friendship with a fascinating primer on bees.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors – The first in a four-part romance series that riffs on Jane Austen novels through the extended family and friend group of an Indian American family in Northern California, this is a gender-swapped version of Pride and Prejudice. The book has enough of Austen’s story to be recognizable without being a stale copycat; and enough content is modernized and changed that the story still holds up on its own without prior knowledge of Austen.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life. An unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
The Switch – Overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work. She escapes to her grandmother Eileen's house for some long overdue rest. Eileen is about to turn 80 and would like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn't offer many eligible gentlemen. So, they decide to switch homes for two months and discover that love can be found in the most unlikely places.
Feel Good Nonfiction
All Creatures Great and Small – Delve into the magical, unforgettable world of James Herriot, the world's most beloved veterinarian, and his menagerie of heartwarming animal patients in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. A new television series based on this book is airing on PBS and also available on DVD at the library.
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living – Through conversations, stories and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat anxiety, insecurity, anger and discouragement. He explores many facets of everyday life to illustrate how to ride through life's obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.
The Comfort Book – A small book for anyone in search of hope, looking for a path to a more meaningful life, or in need of encouragement. Through short meditations incorporating a diverse array of sources from across history, science, and his own experiences, Haig offers warmth and reassurance, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty and unpredictability of existence.
The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers – Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers's personal, professional and artistic life through decades of work. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations. Levar Burton narrates the audiobook.
Joyful – A groundbreaking look at how small changes to our surroundings can lead us to happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. Renowned designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how the mundane spaces and objects we interact with every day have surprising and powerful effects on our mood.
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up – With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international bestseller will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.
Make Your Own Sunshine – These joyful portraits from Fox News meteorologist, Janice Dean, offer uplifting accounts of everyday heroes from across America and will bring a smile to any reader's face.
The Nature Fix – In this informative and entertaining account, Williams investigates cutting-edge research to uncover the science behind nature's positive effects on the brain. The Nature Fix demonstrates that our connection to nature is much more important to our cognition than we think and that even small amounts of exposure to the living world can improve our creativity and enhance our mood.