The start of a new year can be filled with optimism and promise, but for many, January often feels long, cold and dark.
But there’s no need to resign yourself to doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways to bring a little cheer and warmth to the winter months. And one of the best is to curl up to read an uplifting book.
Here are five books written to make you smile whatever the weather, including classics, debut novels, best sellers and hidden gems.
1. Solve for Happy, Mo Gawdat
Mo Gawdat applies his business acumen as a top Google executive to “solve” the issue of happiness from both a scientific and a spiritual perspective in this bestselling self-help book.
Based on his battles to overcome unhappiness and deal with a tragic personal loss, he proposes an equation for lifelong happiness.
By applying an in-depth understanding of how the brain works, Gawdat explains how we can tackle negative perceptions that cloud our thinking and pursue happiness using a step-by-step process.
Solve for Happy encourages you to become more reflective and self-aware. Gawdat also provides practical tips for achieving and maintaining happiness, such as, starting a “positive events journal” and getting rid of distractions so that you can be fully present.
While the subject matter might feel heavy-going at times, the book is written in a friendly and informal style that makes it an easy read you can dip in and out of whenever you need a little happiness boost.
2. The Lost Bookshop, Evie Woods
This is a delightful, heartwarming and easy read that’s perfect for cosying up with on a cold winter’s day. It’s an uplifting and magical novel about the power of books to transform how you view life.
“‘The thing about books,’ she said, ‘is that they help you to imagine a life bigger and better than you could ever dream of.’”
The story is narrated by three characters, Opaline, Martha, and Henry. As we learn about their lives in Dublin and Paris, the action switches between the present day and the 1920s. Woods manages this with such ease and fluidity that even those who often struggle with dual timelines will have no problems following the plot.
When a magical bookshop casts its spell, these three unsuspecting characters are transported to a world of wonder where nothing is as it seems.
This truly joyful adventure offers well-developed characters, an absorbing plot and total escapism. A must-read for all book lovers!
3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
This much-loved 1813 classic is cited by many as an all-time favourite, and it has been adapted into dramatisations for TV, theatre and film.
Feisty and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet is at the heart of the story, which is set in rural England at the turn of the 19th century. It follows the fortunes and misfortunes of the Bennet family, who face destitution if one or all of the five sisters do not marry well.
To Mrs Bennet’s consternation, her daughter Elizabeth turns down several marriage proposals because she refuses to marry for anything but love. Then she meets the proud Mr Darcy who deems her not handsome enough to be his wife, leading her to form an instant disliking of him.
Gradually, he overcomes his pride, and she sets aside her prejudice, allowing them to admit their love for one another and marry.
Even if you’ve read it before, this is the perfect choice to make you smile. There’s often comfort in the familiar and for bookworms, revisiting favourite characters is like welcoming old friends.
4. The Book of Beginnings, Sally Page
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Keeper of Stories, this gem of a novel is about secrets, second chances and finding friendship in unexpected places.
The protagonist is middle-aged Jo Sorsby who agrees to take over her uncle’s shop to escape recent heartbreak.
While transforming the rundown hardware shop into a beautiful stationery store, she encounters and falls in love with a delightful cast of characters.
Page’s masterful storytelling makes the characters leap off the page. You’ll quickly become absorbed in Jo’s world. One to devour in a single fireside sitting.
5. The Art of Positive Thinking, Elizabeth Brown
In this popular self-help book, Elizabeth Brown explains how to eliminate negative thinking and develop mindfulness.
She talks about the benefits of positive thinking and doesn’t shy away from the fact that overcoming negative self-talk takes consistent hard work. There is no magic wand to stop you from overthinking.
However, the book is packed full of helpful tips on how to change negative patterns of thinking over time. And the chapters break the content down into useful sections so that you can tackle one concept at a time.
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