Naive. Super. , written by Erlend Loe (1996)
This novel starts with a captivating epigram that is actually a quote from Gary Fisher: Anybody who rides a bike is a friend of mine. The novel focuses on the confusing and disturbing thoughts of a young man (mid-twenties), but in a simple and amusing way. If you feel distressed over sensing a lack of meaning in your own life track, reading this novel will make you feel less alone. It implicitly shows that there aren’t many people who know exactly what they are doing, but it also shows how hard it is to speak about what is bothering you to the ones who don’t share your suffering.
Everything seemed meaningless to me. All of a sudden. My own life, the lives of others, of animals and plants, the whole world. It no longer fitted together. I told my brother. He would never have been able to understand it. He got up and said come on, shit happens, it’ll be fine.
This is a book that you will read in one breath. It focuses of the inner struggles of the protagonist, who is somewhat weird and has his own rituals and ways that help him cope with thoughts (such as hitting a ball againts the wall or making a list of what he has and doesn’t have). The novel has a diary-like form and is written in the first person singular, which gives the impression of an intimate conversation. The book actually depicts a quarter-life crisis of one young individual who doesn’t seem to have it all figured out. The point is – nobody does. Life is what you make of it, and although it can be scary and incomprehensible, we’re all in the same gutter. But, as Oscar Wilde said: some of us are looking at the stars.
Naive.Super. isn’t avaliable for online reading, but you can purchase it.
The Happiness Project, written by Gretchen Rubin (2011)
Maybe you get cold chills when you hear the term self-help literature. Many people have a negative opinion about this genre in popular literature. The truth is, this one isn’t a typical self-help book. It is more of a shared story on how the author managed to turn her life around by simple small steps, intuitively and then in a very focused way. She tried singing in the morning, cleaning her closets, reading Aristotle and having more fun, in general. The philosophy behind this book is quite simple: find out what brings you down, make a decision to stay away from it, and then stick to it. And of course, the path itself will reveal what small things make you happy, and you should focus on doing what brings you joy as often as you can. The book actually helps you put things in perspective, and it shows you how life truly can be beautiful:
I had to answer two crucial questions before I went any further. First, did I believe it was possible to make myself happier? After all, the „set-point“ theory holds that a person’s basic level of happiness doesn’t fluctuate much, except briefly.
My conclusion: yes, it is possible.
It is an amusing book in the sense that it shows happiness as every individual’s project. The quest for it doesn’t have to be exhausting, but fun and fulfilling.
The Happiness Project isn’t avaliable for online reading, but you can purchase it.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
Most of us have probably seen the movie based on this epistolary novel, directed by the author himself. But reading the book will give you a much more intimate experience. It has been categorized as a teenage novel, but here’s why you should take the time to read it, no matter what age you are. It is a story about a young teenager and his first experiences with the world: problems with family conflicts, injustice in the world, the gay community, and first time falling in love. All of this while being an introverted young individual, mostly silent, like a sponge that soaks up everything that’s going on. It is a novel for all ages because some questions never get resolved and leave us empty handed. But, even though life can get a bit overwhelming, messy and complicated – it is precious and made out of incredible moments, which later become beautiful memories:
There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.
You can read the book for free online, here.
The Old Man and the Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway (1951)
This short novel is a classic, it had to be on this list. It was inspired by the author’s visits to Africa and to Cuba. It is a story about an old fisherman, Santiago, and his struggles as a fisherman. Of course, the story is a great allegory about coping with whatever life throws at you. If you’ve always felt like you have a special connection to the sea, then this is the right book for you. It shows us a special relationship between Santiago and the world of the sea, it shows us how a boy’s heart (Manolino’s) can be full of love for his teacher, and how happiness lies in the journey, not in reaching a certain goal. Here’s one inspirational thought from the novel:
“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
You can read it for free online, here.
The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone (1961)
If you are a lover of art history, you will most certainly like this big, biographical novel. It will put you in a good mood and will fuel up your curiosity. It is a story about the life of Michelangelo Buonarotti. You will find out more about his artistic aspirations, his conficts with popes and struggles with family and money issues. But, it will put a smile on your face, because this kind of activism and determination to create is truly inspiring. You will learn a lot about the Medici, the Florentine ruling family during the Italian Renaissance, about Florence itself, and the artistic rivalry between Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. A truly interesting and intriguing novel that will definetly put you in a good mood. The strong sense of identity that Michelangelo had (according to the author, that is) will chase all the clouds away, and you will feel enlightened:
One should not become an artist because he can, but because he must. It is only for those who would be miserable without it.
The book isn’t available for reading online, but you can purchase it.
These five books are very different from each other: we have fiction, self-help, a short novel, an epistolary novel, and a biographical novel, so there is something for everyone. What are some of your „feel good“ books?