Readings booksellers recommend: Books that make us happy

We ask our booksellers to share books that make them happy.

Find plenty of recommendations for books to make you feel happy by browsing this collection.


Jeremy George recommends A car, a man, a maraca by Oscar Perry

I have been reading and re-reading Oscar Perry’s debut poetry collection A car, a man, a maraca since it was released last year. The collection grapples (like so much other contemporary White Australian poetry) with what it means to participate in a settler poetics. What is quite singular about Perry’s collection, however, is that the serious philosophical question raised are done so with real humour.

A car, a man, a maraca is the formalised version of what Perry has been doing for years in and around Melbourne, including spoken word performances for community radio station Hope Street Radio, long titles composed for paintings and sculptural works (his other major artistic practice) and a constant stream of surreal fragments written on iPhone notes and screenshot directly to his Instagram. This collection makes me happy because it takes on what could be the most pressing political question for many of us currently living in Australia, using humour and witty, incisive insights into our contemporary culture. Contemporary poetry doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as it should, it is worth remembering Perry’s dictum on the power of art - ‘It only takes one nail/ To hang/ A painting/ Of Jesus’.


Ellen Cregan recommends From the Wreck by Jane Rawson

A book about a horrible shipwreck and a stranded alien might be a strange choice for a book that inspires happiness… But hear me out…

Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck is such a beautifully rendered, wholly original, historical-speculative-fiction mashup, that its very existence makes me happy. Fiction that isn’t afraid to spread out into the realm of weirdness (especially in the Australian literary context) makes me excited, especially when it’s pulled off as brilliantly as by Rawson here.

I’m not alone in my admiration of this work either – From the Wreck was one of the six books shortlisted for the Reading Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2017. The judges commented: “A truly original voice in the landscape of Australian historical fiction… This novel brings the twin strands of history and trauma together in a lyrical and visceral meditation on the cost of survival.”


Tye Cattanach recommends Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood

For me, it has to be – the Real Pigeons Fight Crime series! From talented Australian duo Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood, this series of illustrated children’s books is about exactly what you expect: crime-fighting pigeons.

There is so much in these amazing books to make anyone and everyone happy. The thought that pigeons are everywhere, doing all they can, to protect us all from all kinds of crime, is super reassuring and awesomely coo… The stories are not just funny, they are also clever, and thought-provoking, and you learn SO much about so many different birds. AND we must take a moment to talk about the magnificent illustrations! What an exuberant and joyous use of ink! There is so much happy to be found in this delightful series, and they make for wonderful re-reading too.

The series is recommended for ages 6+, and adults will also find lots of enjoy.


George Delaney recommends Middlemarch by George Eliot

Want a big nail-biter full of melodrama? Have you got the wrist strength to hold it up? Or someone to hold it up for you?

It’s a really satisfying thing to give your time to a tome, especially when sadness or existential discomfort makes it hard to concentrate. I’ve read Middlemarch on paper, and I loved it, but the first time I encountered it was as actually an audiobook. I listened to it over several months during a difficult time in my life, and when I came to the end I felt like I was the character in a bildungsroman and had finally reached a resolution, as uplifted as Dorothea.

Another reason to read (or reread) Middlemarch at this moment in history? It’s 900+ pages long..

I also recommend revisiting a favourite picture book as a way to feel happy. One of mine is Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli.


Lian Hingee recommends Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The world is very anxiety-inducing at the moment, and like many people I imagine, I have the deep urge to bury my face in a book and not come out. It’s times like this that I reach for old favourites, and top of the list for me is Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm. Originally published in 1932, this cheeky parody of overwrought rural dramas remains as fresh and enjoyable to read today as it was nearly a century ago.

Abruptly orphaned, but eminently sensible, Flora Poste packs herself off to stay with distant relatives: the ominously-named Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. The occupants of the farm include randy sex-god Seth, half-wild Elfine, entirely too fertile Meriam (a bad combination with Seth, tbh) and of course ancient Aunt Ada who saw “something nasty in the woodshed” and never got over it. Over the course of this wonderful book Flora takes each of them in hand, and manages them into submission - and the modern world - before finally granting herself a well-deserved happy ending of her own. It’s absolutely charming, and I’d recommend it to anyone who dreams of having (or being!) a Flora to iron the kinks out of their world.


Bronte Coates recommends Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird

Hera Lindsay Bird is a writer from New Zealand and her self-titled and semi-autobiographical poetry collection is a book I have recommended to others again and again. I can honestly pick up this book at any page and it makes me smile. Bird’s poems are weird and surprising in the best way, covering everything from dad jokes to 90s iconic TV show, Friends. If you’re someone who dismisses poetry as self-serious or mysterious, please pick this collection up. It’s a genuine delight.

One of the other nice things about this book is that it’s ideal for reading aloud with friends, family, neighbours, and maybe even enemies too. A book to share feels like a good thing in the world right now.


Angela Crocombe recommends Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Winnie-the-Pooh was gifted to me by my godfather when I was six and it is one of the most precious books on my shelf – one that I would grab if the house was on fire (after the photos and the cat!). With its distinctive characters, all with their own special quirks (everyone knows an Eeyore, surely) and its predicaments that are very serious but also quite preposterous, its a comforting world to escape into. It also contains a surprising number of heartfelt truths and basic philosophy on how to live a good life. Winnie-the-Pooh may appear to be a bear of very little brain but he is actually quite wise, some might even call him an idiot savant.

I loved reading these stories to my own six-year-old and this book is one that I delve into myself in times of need. I read it after my father died, I read it during that awful patch of loneliness in my twenties and I will read it again very soon. You can easily pretend to your child you want to read it for them, and enjoy those moments of wisdom yourself. The poetry in When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six is also utterly charming.

Find even more recommendations for books to make you feel happy by browsing the collection below.

Cold Comfort Farm

Cold Comfort Farm

Stella Gibbons

$12.99Buy now

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