A few weeks ago I was on a Zoom happy hour with my girlfriends when one of them declared “I wish I liked your book recommendations but you like serious and heavy stuff and right now I really need something light!” Honestly, I love when I get book recommendations wrong because it gives me the chance to ask “What books do you enjoy?” She rattled off what she had read and loved recently as I listened. What was so funny is that we are reading many of the same books!
The bulk of the audiobooks I read are lighthearted because they are easier to follow while multitasking. I love lighthearted books to break my reading slump or to read after something heavier. However, I probably don’t rave about them as often as I should.
I also recognize that what each person considers light hearted is different. For me, I need the the characters in my lighthearted reads to have some conflict–a personal struggle of some sort–to make the story interesting. I also don’t mind if my lighthearted reads touch on a difficult issue or subject as long as the ending ties up well and the subject is handled with care. Here are the five lighthearted books with substance I would recommend.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuisson
If you like rom coms that also work to imagine a more diverse and inclusive American political landscape, this book will leave you crying in the best possible way. Red, White and Royal Blue is more than just a story about Alex and Henry, sworn enemies from across the pond, it’s a book about hope and imagining a better world.
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
A new release this year, I enjoyed this romance that also weaved in class issues and mental health. It’s part of the recent move to publish books with more inclusive stories, This Time Next Year was a pleasant surprise. I also found I really loved all the subplots in this book, which is rare that all the subplots are engaging and contribute to the story.
The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley
When a book like The Authenticity Project is called “warm and charming” I generally think “sweet and fluffy” and steer clear. But with consistently high reviews I decided to give this book a try and I am glad that I did.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
A book about a girl that suddenly shows up claiming to be an alien is definitely a stretch, but trust me if you just go with it, you will find an enduring and sweet story about chosen family. Where the Forest Meets the Stars definitely surprised me with its unique, heartwarming and thoughtful story.
The Windfall by Diksha Basu
I read this the first summer after leaving my full time congregational job, I was burnt out and my brain was mushy with grief. The Windfall was the perfect book because it was equal parts light-hearted and funny but with some insightful commentary on class striation and striving.
I would love to know what is on your “lighthearted with substance” book list! Drop your favorite in the comments.
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