Sometimes, you need a little break from the heavy stuff. Whether it’s a hardcore fantasy featuring warring factions or a hard-hitting contemporary about the state of society, we get it. We’re obsessed with them, too. But we also love a little lightheartedness, for when what you really need is a smile, a laugh, or that particular feeling of butterflies that only the cutest of love stories can give you. From hilarious hijinks like The Disasters, to sweet, heartwarming goodness like This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, this list has a book to fulfill every one of your happy needs.
Here are our recommendations for when you want to put a smile on your face!
11 Happy Books
TO PICK YOU UP ON YOUR DARKEST DAYS
1. The Disasters by M.K. England
Hilarity, hijinks, and a ragtag group of misfits—sold yet? This one cracked us up, and is perfect for when you need a little lightness in your day.
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy.
Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
Full of high-stakes action, subversive humor, and underdogs becoming heroes, this YA sci-fi adventure is perfect for fans of Illuminae, Heart of Iron, or the cult classic TV show Firefly and is also a page-turning thrill ride that anyone—not just space nerds—can enjoy.
- Buy The Disasters now
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- Blast off on a New Adventure With This First Look at The Disasters
2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
One of the sweetest rom coms known to man, To All The Boys is the sugary sweet fix you need. Plus, did you hear that Netflix is adapting the sequel???
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
3. Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack
In case you couldn’t tell, we’re a sucker for witty banter—and this one has plenty. If irreverent comedy is your thing, hit up Your Own Worst Enemy when you need to take things a little less seriously.
Stacey Wynn was the clear front-runner for Lincoln High student council president. But then French-Canadian transfer student Julia Romero entered the race…and put the moves on Stacey’s best friend/campaign adviser, Brian.
Stacey also didn’t count on Tony Guo, resident stoner, whose sole focus is on removing the school’s ban of his favorite chocolate milk, becoming the voice of the little guy, thanks to a freshman political “mastermind” with a blue Mohawk.
Three candidates, three platforms, and a whirlwind of social media, gaffes, high school drama, and protests make for a ridiculously hilarious political circus that just may hold some poignant truth somewhere in the mix.
4. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
What would a feel-good roundup be without our girl Willowdean? You already know how we feel about this high-heeled revolutionary, and if you haven’t watched the *epic* Netflix adaptation yet… well, what are you waiting for??
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.
With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does.
Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
- Buy Dumplin’ now
- Add Dumplin’ to your Goodreads shelf
- Everything you need to know about the Dumplin’ movie
5. What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Can you say dream team? We adore the goofy, awkward, and all together lovable Ben and Arthur, as well as their amazing love story.
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them… ?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?
What if it’s us?
- Buy What If It’s Us now
- Add What If It’s Us to your Goodreads shelf
- All the secrets and hidden references you missed in What If It’s Us
6. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
All hail the king of sarcasm! We can’t wait for you to meet Norris Kaplan, and we hope you love him as much as we do.
Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas.
Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.
Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris…like loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris, or Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. Not to mention Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who might, in fact, be a real love interest in the making.
But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart.
- Buy The Field Guide to the North American Teenager now
- Add The Field Guide to the North American Teenager to your Goodreads shelf
7. This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender
The intersectional love is here and it is oh-so-beautiful. Y’all already know how much we love this one, and we’re taking any opportunity we can to tell you!
A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
- Buy This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story now
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- Bookstagram loves This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story almost as much as we do
8. The Resolutions by Mia Garcia
Sweet friendships? Check. Heartwarming, emotional journeys? Check. This may be a bit more of a serious one, we’ll admit, but the journey these friends take will be sure to put a smile on your face.
From hiking trips to four-person birthday parties to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable. But now with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.
Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom’s Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything.
But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.
9. Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
MILLIE MICHALCHUK IS OUR QUEEN. If you need more Millie in your life after reading, then streaming, Dumplin’, don’t forget that our fave has a novel all her own!
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
A story about unexpected friendship, romance, and Texas-size girl power, this is another winner from Julie Murphy.
10. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
What can we say? We stan a friendship arc. Ryan and Gabby give us all the feels.
Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does.
But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.
Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.
11. Kiss Collector by Wendy Higgins
Searing and sweet with a feminist twist, Kiss Collector is sure to make you smile.
Seventeen-year-old Zae Monroe is over relationships. Between getting cheated on by the only guy she’s ever loved and watching her parents’ marriage crumble, she decides to turn the tables and go after what she wants, and what she wants are kisses. Athletes, musicians, poets, bad boys—their lips are all on her agenda, and it’s time to collect.
Zae proposes a contest with her friends to see who can kiss the most boys during spring break. But what starts as a harmless competition leads to a downward spiral of drama. Zae is forced to face the reasons behind her boy angst and starts to wonder if she was wrong about the male race…or at least some of them.
Bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a searing YA romance filled with endless flirting, heartthrob boys, and of course, lots of kisses!