Happy literature

All happy novels resemble one another, each unhappy novel is unhappy in its own way.

I don’t know. I was just trying something.

Talked to friend/writer/fellow dog owner Mary Anne today about books that leave you happy at the end. Not just satisfied, which is a requirement. Uplifted. But not in a Hallmark Greetings sort of way. This is a tough distinction, and I imagine that everyone’s threshold for Hallmark-ness is different. What makes me happy at the end of a book might not make it for someone else.

Mary Anne and I agreed on one book: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Haven’t read it? Not surprised. I found it by accident—J.K. Rowling had blurbed a reissue and that made me curious. I have been known to ply people with copies of it. That kind of book is what I mean: A book you can give away to friends who read, confident that they will likely enjoy it. Not just appreciate its many literary qualities, you see, but enjoy it.

I’m looking for suggestions, then. Where are the feel-good books? (It goes without saying that I mean well-written feel-good books, doesn’t it?)

I’m also trying to think about what this means for my own writing. If I like to read books that make me think, make me work for my satisfaction, but also make me a little happier for having read them…am I delivering the goods when I’m on the other side? Not all the time. Write the book you want to read; it’s something I have to keep reminding myself. It helps to narrow that down a bit to discover something about yourself like the fact that you are a frigging optimist and happen to like a little happy in your stories. Who knew?

Suggestions please.

By Published On: July 22, 2009Categories: Reading, Writing