Good Housekeeping published a list today of 60 Books That Will Make You Happier and I found it a kind of strange list, full of books like Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and the ever-annoying Eat, Pray, Love. But that got me thinking about the books I've read that made me happy. Not necessarily happy I'd read them--almost any book does that--but a book that made me laugh or gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I read a lot of noir and horror; sometimes I need a warm, fuzzy feeling from my fiction. Here's a list I made:
1. Michael Malone's Handling Sin
. This is a road trip book about a man chasing down his rascal of a father and discovering he has half-siblings. His full-of-life best friend comes along and it's all set in the south. And gets it totally right. Malone also writes wonderful mysteries.
2. Eudora Welty, The Ponder Heart
. This is a novella and it's also very southern. Seems Uncle Daniel POnder, a confirmed bachelor, has married a young woman who spends all her time reading magazines and making "the kind of fudge anybody can make." This is a lovely take on small towns and families and will make you smile.
3. Cyde Edgerton, Walking Across Egypt
. The first book of Clyde's I read was The Floatplane Notebooks,
which is a family saga told from multiple points of view, including that of the kudzu vine wrpping the house. This is a quick read, a book about an independent old lady and her dog and a young boy in need of love.
4. Sharyn McCrumb, St. Dale
. I am a huge fan of McCrumb's Appalachian Ballad es with their dual timelines. This stand-alone book is not a mystery at all, but an ensemble piece about a tour group visiting NASCAR sites as a summer vacation. It comes across like one of those multi-plot movies the late, great Garry Marshall used to make--New Year's Day
or Valentine's Day
, or a summer version of Love, Actually
5. Joe Keeena, Blue Heaven
(not to be confused with the 1990 Steve Martin movie My Blue Heaven). This is a rollicking novel about two dead broke best friends in New York who decide to marry for the wedding presents and other loot and the hijinks that ensue. There's a running bit about a character who fancies herself a designer coming up with the wedding dress that's hilarious.
6. Rita Mae Brown, Bingo
. Again, a character-heavy novel set in the south. My grandmother lived with me when I was a child and the old ladies in this book remind me so much of her, especially in a scene where two woomen get so competitive in a game of bingo that they start attacking each other with their dab-a-dot markers. (They're apparently called Do-A-Dots these days, but if you ever went to a bingo hall with your grandparents, you know what I mean.) there are sequels! I love this book but hate Brown's super-sweet cozy mysteries.
7. Beverly Cleary, Beezus and Ramona.
Actually, I loved all the books that Beverly Cleary
wrote. She was the first "author" I followed. I remember going to the library to get her books. she's 101 years old!!! I loved the books because I had a little sister I loved and we had neighbors and the book seemed like the even-better version of my own childhood.
8. Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game
. I love, love, love this book. It's a puzzle about a wealthy man who intends to leave his fortune to whoever can solve a puzzle. It involves multiple characters in various families and it's a wonderful story about friendship and families and expectations and dreams. Raskin wrote other, similar books (The Disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel) but this one is her best.