Blog, Book Reviews, Bookish Life

10 Books for Happiness, Courage, and Inspiration


What does self-love/self-care look for you? Candles, a warm relaxing bath, cooking an elaborate meal, mindfulness, or journaling? For me, it is reading, cuddling with my seven-year-old dog who is – objectively – the cutest Golden Retriever in existence, meditation, facing my faults, and changing for the better. I believe that it is important to love myself before I can love anyone else. There are some books that I re-read when I am either in a reading slump or I want to remind myself that I am doing the best and that happiness is achievable.

1. Furry Logic: A Guide to Life’s Little Challenges by Jane Seabrook- this small picture book features adorable watercolor illustrations of animals with captions of bold and fun logic as well as the routine of everyday life. No matter which page I open, I will find something to make me smile. My favorites are probably a cat with wide-open eyes saying, “Consciousness: that annoying time between naps” and a squirrel with the caption, “It’s been lovely. But I have to scream now”.

2. What Would Cleopatra Do? by Beth Coates and Elizabeth Foley- This book features the life stories and advice on tackling various life issues from fifty women. There are both famous and not-so-famous. I am not a history buff but reading about women and getting advice on things including having it all by Josephine Baker, dealing with gossip by Catherine the Great, finding your style by Frida Kahlo, and defying FOMO by Emily Dickinson, among others.

3. You Are Here by Jenny Lawson- Lawson’s books like Furiously Happy, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and the forthcoming Broken (In The Best Possible Way) are interesting and normalize mental health. You are Here is a coloring book with encouragement and generalizes mental illness by creating a community. When I am struggling, this book helps me calm down.

4. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- This really short epistolary work should be required reading. Adiche mentions fifteen ways to her friend who wants her advice on raising her daughter as a feminist. The advice is not only applicable for raising children but also for everyone who wants to be a feminist or know how to be an ally. Editor’s Note – We understand that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a TERF and are deeply disappointed and pretty pissed about it. However, FBC is not in the habit of censoring suggestions from contributors as neither shame, nor censorship, are tools of compassionate feminism.

5. Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew- This gorgeous book features Andrew’s watercolor painting and realistic insights on life, death, love, relationships, dating, urban living, and traveling, each page is filled with love and support. It’s like talking to your best friend about your life.

6. The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy by Helen Russell- This book describes 33 different concepts of happiness/philosophies/attitudes/life mottos from different countries around the world. You can adopt practical ideas and methods of happiness: homeyness from the US, jolly from the UK, joie de vivre from Canada, wabi-sabi from Japan, xingfu from China, jugaad from India, and so many others.

7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin- It focuses on Gretchen Reuben‘s resolutions, experiments, and findings, over the course of a year. She focuses on goals for each month and works through them. Her happiness project can be different for everyone and can be personalized. I try to remember that, “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.”

8. Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia- This compilation of problems/questions were sent to The Hairpin. The author provided answers to the issues from the perspective of Baba Yaga. The questions and solutions for contemporary are on themes like love, the self, and life. Absolutely enjoyable and the illustrations are gorgeous in black, white, and red. For whimsy and fantastical solutions, I turn to this book.

9. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy- This illustrated book about kindness, love, and friendship makes a wonderful gift. Featuring conversations between a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse, this book is inspiring, no matter which page you open to.

10. Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell- Neil Gaiman makes me happy. However, this book makes me very happy. It is a very short book on the importance of art, creativity, and freedom. I come back to this book for reminding to find the beauty in life.

Special mentions:
1. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman- Backman also makes me happy; this latest novel features interesting characters and how a bank robbery results in a hostage situation at an apartment showing/open house. Like any Backman, there are meditations on love, marriage, divorce, family, relationships, and suicide. I enjoyed it but keep tissues close at hand.

2. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune- Linus Baker, a government caseworker is assigned to an orphanage and assess whether the master, Arthur, should continue to be in charge of a group of magical children including the Antichrist. I enjoyed this book: the way that Linus‘s life unravels, the descriptions of the children, his relationship with Arthur, and themes of prejudice & acceptance.

I hope that you can redefine what self-care and self-love look for you. I hope that these books inspire you, encourage you, give you courage, accept yourself, and provide solutions to life’s challenges, big and small. We got this!

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.

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