Books

7 feel-good books by female authors to devour in one sitting

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
A woman reading in the garden

Escape the stay-at-home summer for an afternoon or two with these uplifting and escapist reads by female authors.

There’s nothing quite like the escapist power of books to transport you to somewhere entirely different. You might be limited to spending the next few months on a small patch of balcony in Clapton, for example; but a gripping novel can spirit you away to a 1920s speakeasy, or the lazy heat of Louisiana summer nights.

Below are seven feel-good books to lift you out from any stay-at-home fug you may be in right now, and they’re all by female authors. 

You may also like

Best things to do online this weekend in lockdown

One 2018 study found books by women are priced 45% lower than those of their male counterparts. Historically, female authors have also struggled to make it onto the school curriculum, despite the rich cast list of contenders (Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou, to name but a few) who deserve to be celebrated.

So, it’s fair to say that female authors are long overdue their moment in the sun, with work that is well worth taking an afternoon or two to revel in.

In addition, female authors can also bring to life certain narratives (e.g. the intricate nuances of female friendship) in a way that really resonates. Here are some suggestions to get you started – grab a cuppa and get stuck in:

Woman reading book on a sofa
Reading: a surefire formula for happiness

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymoon

This smash-hit debut novel is actually extremely dark in parts – tackling themes such as childhood abuse, loneliness and alcoholism – but it’s underscored at all times by a deliciously light dash of humour. Office misfit Eleanor finds an unlikely champion in the form of bumbling IT guy Raymond. Their blossoming friendship – which unfolds against all odds – slowly begins to tease out and heal secrets from Eleanor’s deeply damaged past. A laugh-out-loud and heartwarming tale that entirely lives up to its hype.

Read it here

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

(Translated by Philip Gabriel)

This beautifully observed helping of “pet lit” follows one-time street cat Nana on a mysterious road trip across Japan with his beloved owner Satoru. Satoru is visiting old friends from his childhood in order to find a new guardian for Nana, the reason for which is not immediately clear. Partly written in the voice of the cat (which sounds like it shouldn’t work, but absolutely does), this novel tugs at the heart strings with themes of loyalty, kindness and a deep-rooted bond between cat and owner.

Read it here

You may also like

Get reading: this is how books can impact your mental health

There is no friend as loyal as a book - so said Ernest Hemingway

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Female friendship often gets a backseat in literature but Rebecca Wells’ 1996 New York Times bestseller brings the motif to life in glorious technicolour. A group of fiercely loyal and eccentric women navigate the highs and lows of life in small-town Louisiana, drawing from a lifelong connection that will ring true with anyone who’s experienced the joy of sisterhood. 

There are gorgeous scenes here of cocktails by the river, and rooftop swims by twilight, interweaved with the moving story of a mother and daughter struggling to mend their rift. Fans can move onto Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, which explores similar themes of female friendship in an earlier era.

Read it here

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In many ways, Half of a Yellow Sun is an incredibly sad book. So heart-wrenching, in fact, that some would argue it doesn’t qualify as feel-good material. But, as is the case with many great novels, the love depicted amid the turmoil (love between husband and wives, love between lovers, love between mother and child, and love between sisters) is so bright and relatable, it trumps all else. The Orange Prize-winning book is set during the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-70, and follows the story of twins Olanna and Kainene, whose lives will change forever by the conflict.

Read it here

You may also like

8 feel-good things you can do instead of obsessively scrolling the news

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

This is the first of the Cazalet Chronicles, an epic family saga set in the 1930s and 40s that has won legions of devoted readers around the world. Each chapter tackles the story through a different family member’s perspective, with characters who are instantly familiar (if not always loveable). Scenes from a bygone era are brought to life in exquisite detail: think tennis matches, picnics and trips to the pictures, all played out in the shadow of a looming world war and murmurs of age old -family politics. Like all families, the Cazalets’ ties are complicated, messy and sometimes disturbing: but ultimately, this is a book you’ll come away from feeling toasty warm.

Read it here

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

Set in Hong Kong in the wartime and the 1950s, this evocative book conjures up themes of love, betrayal and high society in a way that can’t fail to captivate. A piano teacher stumbles upon dark family secrets from a decade before, when the privileged world of Hong Kong’s elite was torn apart during the Japanese occupation, leaving relationships deeply exposed. Although sad in parts, The Piano Teacher is also a tale of romance, revival and new beginnings. We challenge you not to romp through it at an Olympian pace.

Read it here

Spirit yourself away to an alternate reality for an afternoon or two

Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley

Journalist Alexandra Heminsley tackles the meditative art of wild swimming in this life-affirming read. Setting out in the choppy grey waves off Brighton pier is no mean feat; and Heminsley paints a vivid picture of the mental barriers that must be overcome in achieving such a daunting physical feat. Above all, though, this is an uplifting ode to the freedom of conquering fear and what happens when you truly stretch your limits. It’s also a rousing tribute to the Great Outdoors. You’ll be reaching for your swimmers in no time for a paddle in your nearest lake/river/beach cove. 

Read it here

Images: Getty, Perfecto Capucine and Mariana Vusiatytska on Unsplash

Sign up to receive the latest Strong workouts, nutritious recipes and expert tips and you'll also get our 14-page Beginner's Guide To Strength Training.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Topics

Share this article

Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

Recommended by Anna Brech

Life

Are you struggling to wake up in the morning?

This could be why you're feeling so foggy headed when you wake up.

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published
Life

Belief, love, work: three pillars of a happy life to rethink under lockdown

Now could be the time to reflect on the things that really matter to you.

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
Food

Fancy a takeaway treat? Nando’s has released the recipe for their famous peri-peri chicken

We know what we’ll be eating this weekend.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
Life

18 things we’re all going to do when coronavirus lockdown is over

Someone asked people on Reddit what they’re going to do when the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and their answers were so beautiful.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

12 successful women share their feel-good bedtime routines

From red wine and vinyl to escapist reading

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published