By Juhi Bansal

I swear by a good book to lift my mood up! Normally, my choice of genre are intense, dark, edge of the seat thrillers or a completely new genre of non-fiction but every now and then I crave a “pick me up”.

The current situation warrants light reads, happy endings and smile bringers.

Keeping that in mind, I have curated a list of 20 reads that brought a smile to my face in the last 5 years and were mostly a one-sitting read.

Book #1 Where Did You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

It’s a story of an eccentric mother and her precocious daughter. A story full of anticipation, sly jokes and smart quips.

Book # 2 What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My favourite Liane Moriarty book. 39 year old Alice wakes up forgetting the last 10 years of her life. She is extremely surprised to see how much she has changed. Everyone I know will identify with it. I did!

Book # 3 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Genre: Historical Fiction

It’s set against the backdrop on the Bolshevik Revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union. Rostov a “person” becomes a persona non grata but over the years grows as a person, friend lover and father.

Book # 4 Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Memoir

Whether you’re working or stay at home, single or married, mom or not a mom- this book will resonate with you. I would like to believe I don’t give in to gender biases but while reading this book I realized that it is so deeply conditioned in our upbringing that we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Book # 5 Exit by Belinda Bauer

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Although written on a foundation of a murder, this is an extremely “feel good” book with a good measure of comic relief thrown in. Each character has been written with extreme care and empathy including the very cute septugenarian Felix who finds himself in the midst of a murder!

Book # 6 Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Genre: Memoir

A light read since you will recognize most names and incidents.  It was an amazing read and I have rediscovered my respect for her and any other woman who’s labeled ambitious and bossy just for calling the shots in her own life.

Book # 7 The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Genre: Suspense

An adorable read! The mystery solvers are a bunch of highly intelligent and “quick on their feet” group and if I am allowed to say so- so cute!

Book # 8 A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Genre: YA Suspense

Two teenagers solve a cold case involving the murder of their senior from high school. A very well written book. You will love the characters.

Book # 9 Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling

Genre: Non-Fiction

If I had to pick one life changing book, this will be it. Read this book not only to look at the world factually (supported by real data) but also to feel positive about where the world is going!

Book # 10 Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey Mcquiston

Genre: Romance

The British Prince and the FSOTUS fall in love and then it’s a rollercoaster from there on. It’s witty, adorable and oh so romantic!

Book # 11 Becoming by Michelle Obama

Genre: Memoir

Technically not a short read but a beautiful one. Try listening to the audiobook if you can. Michelle’s powerful voice makes a lot of difference.

Book # 12 What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Genre: Memoir

Life lessons from Oprah. Need I say more?

Book # 13 Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My favourite Backman. A delightful read. Your heart will break into a million pieces as you read the book but you’ll be left hopeful. Backman is a master at nuances, human nature and unconditional love.

Book # 14 Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Genre: Romance

It’s a “laugh a minute” and “swoon every now and then” book.

Book # 15 Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor will make you laugh, shake your head in disbelief and even shed a tear or two. A very unlikely and quirky protagonist- you will love Eleanor!

Book # 16 Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Genre: Memoir

Shonda Rhimes (one of my favourite creators) decided to say “yes” to everything for a year and tells us how it changed her life.

Book # 17 One Day in December by Josie Silver

Genre: Romance

Not your average boy meet girl romance but one that oozes warmth and hope. A predictable read but a definite “pick me up”. A very festive read.

Book # 18 Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

On my little one’s recommendation. Rereading them has kept both our spirits up.

Book # 19 Battle for Bittora by Anuja Chauhan

Genre: Romance

My favourite Anuja Chauhan! Follows her formula: naive heroine, pensive hero, unresolved history, too much chemistry and the perfect love story! On the backdrop of Lok Sabha elections.

Book # 20 Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Genre: Romance

A bollywood-esque setting with a Karan Johar storyline but from the Singapore Chinese POV. It’s a fun read!

What are some of the books that have brought you the much needed smiles during the current testing times?
Pictures from Google, Goodreads and Amazon.


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