Top Five Uplifting Fiction

Finding Uplifting Fiction that isn’t genre specific like Romance or ChickLit is quite difficult. Since you’re unlikely to have these on your shelves, I’m  including a link to a longer Goodreads List described also described as Uplifting:

When you close these books you feel happy to be alive, secure that life is worth living, and motivated to get out there and live an awesome life.

Some of these books may deal with the dark side of life, but they still convey that overall it is good to be alive and leave you feeling uplifted.

GoodReads Top 100 Uplifting Fiction

A lot of the books on their list are children’s classics or novels by familiar authors such as Jane Austen and Elisabeth Von Arnim (I’ve read Elizabeth & Her German Garden and The Enchanted April); others are more contemporary and were popular when they were published like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Life of Pi, The Secret Life of Bees, The Goldfinch, The Shipping News, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

None of my choices are on that list, but these five below are my personal favourites.

Top Five Uplifting Fiction

1. Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

Inspired by an Alaskan legend, this is a wonderful short read featuring the original inhabitants of the interior of Alaska; nomads they moved about in search of food according to the weather.

During a particularly harsh winter the group makes a decision regarding the two old women, which results in a sudden change in their attitudes and demands that they recall and put into practice everything they have learned over their long lives. It’s a wonderful, inspiring story, an ode to the importance of sharing experiences through friendship and community and a warning against complacency.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

This book is a modern classic in America, so I expected it to be a slower read than usual, but I was totally hooked right from its opening pages.

Not only is it a compelling story of a woman’s search for fulfillment, it is an elevating study of character and consciousness emphasized by the use of dialect that draws the reader into the narrative as if it’s being read to you. A unique and exciting reading experience once you get into the rhythm of it.

3. The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

Antoine Laurain is a French author who writes whimsical, humorous novellas and this was the first translated into English. They’re a guaranteed light, uplifting read. The President’s Hat is about what happens when President Mitterand leaves his hat behind in a restaurant and someone else picks it up. That person too leaves it behind, and so on, it is a nod to the nostalgia of Parisian life told as a kind of fairy tale, with its connection to a revered hat-wearing President of the 1980’s, whom Laurain describes as being like a noble Florentine Prince. Also inspired by the loss of a much loved hat and an active imagination!

His other books are similarly uplifting, The Red Notebook, Vintage 1954, or the slightly darker Smoking Kills.

4. The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

This is a wonderful story of octogenarian neighbours Hortensia and Marion, living in a suburb in Cape Town, South Africa. They’ve both had successful lives, run their own businesses and are on the same neighbourhood committee, but their similarities act as a reason to divide them rather than support each other. One day an unforeseen event forces the women together. Could this long-held mutual loathing transform into friendship?  Is it really possible to love thy neighbour? Easier said than done.

It’s a story that reminds me a little of A Man Called Ove, except I didn’t like Ove and wouldn’t put that book on my list, but this one definitely, these two are far more interesting to hang out with than Ove ever was! And this novel was nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017, a worthy contender in my opinion.

5. The Italian Chapel by Philip Paris

Inspired by a true story, this is a tale of Italian prisoners of war, transported from the North African desert to the freezing cold of Orkney, (an archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland), at the beginning of winter 1942.

In a testament to the wonders of the human spirit, despite insufferable conditions they build a chapel, one of the most enduring icons of hope and peace to come out of WWII.

The novel introduces us to key characters and imagines them achieving this incredible feat. It is a story of optimism, resourcefulness and the things men do to keep their spirits up when the circumstances are against them. An easy, light read, moving without being overly sentimental, knowing this wonderful refuge still exists today makes it all the more special.

Philip Paris has also written a non-fiction account of the true story behind the chapel. Orkney’s Italian Chapel: The True Story of an Icon. In my review he wrote a comment, saying that he and his wife had returned for the 70th anniversary of the chapel’s completion and met up with several family members of the key artists who built the chapel, as well as 94 year old Gino Caprara, an ex Orkney POW who travelled from Italy for the event. There were many tears shed during those few days together.

Further Reading Lists

Top Five on MyTBR

Top Five Spiritual Well-Being Reads

Top Five Nature Inspired Reads

Top Five Spiritual Well-Being Books

Well-Being Inspiration

Welcome to today’s new list, my top five spiritual well-being reads . This is Day 2 in my series of Reading Lists for this period of total confinement. Yesterday I shared the Top 5 Reads on My TBR.

There is a tab above with links to more authors and books in this category and a short intro to the author and what they specialise in.

Many of my suggestions are Hay House authors. Hay House is a publishing company founded in 1984 by Louise Hay when she was 58 years old. In the 1970’s she wrote a pamphlet known as ‘Heal Your Body’ which later became the bestselling book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’.

I have an affinity for Hay House authors as I often listen to their free radio HayHouseRadio.com when I’m cooking dinner. Many authors have a weekly radio show where they interview interesting people and invite callers to ask questions. Ordinary and extraordinary life questions that receive spiritually enlightened answers from what I perceive as pretty grounded, high functioning empathetic teachers, with open-minded perspectives on the Divine.

Top Five Spiritual Well-Being Books

1. Raise Your Vibration by Kyle Gray

I came across Kyle Gray thanks to Christiane Northrup, a protégé of Louise Hay, she invited him to present at an I Can Do It event (gatherings of kindred souls to share similar experiences, expand awareness and reach higher levels of consciousness) when he was 22-years-old. It’s so heart-warming to see a young man inspiring so many in such a grounded, reassuring and confident way.

Raise Your Vibration is the perfect bedside read and daily practice. Vibration is a similar term to energy, we all vibrate energetically at a particular frequency. The lower the frequency, the denser your energy, and the heavier your problems seem. The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional, and mental bodies. We experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love, and joy. You have little, if any, discomfort or pain in your physical body, and your emotions are easily dealt with.

Kyle refers to his practices as vibes. So raising our vibe is good. It’s not necessary to read more than one per day and we benefit more by doing this as often the day will show us something that relates to what we’ve read. I loved this book because it opens us up to serendipitous events and makes us more aware of them. It’s informative, uplifting and can be life changing.

2. Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life by Christiane Northrup

Christiane Northrup is great. A woman with a foot in both camps, a medical doctor, OB/GYN physician who specialises in women’s wellness and has published lots of health related books (with terribly unappealing covers) I’ve never read on menopause, physical and emotional health & healing, ageing, mother-daughter genetic health legacies and more.

I had heard her often on the radio but only began to read her after she wrote Making Life Easy, the book in which she “comes out of the spiritual closet” and shares many of the alternative, more spiritual practices that have guided her through the years.

3. The Four Insights – Wisdom, Power and Grace of the Earthkeepers by Alberto Villoldo

I came across Alberto via Colette Baron-Reid, they have worked together and produced a Mystical Shaman Oracle deck, which is a great way to learn about this ancient wisdom, Alberto writes wonderful books which really help deepen one’s knowledge. A medical anthropologist who thought he knew a lot (PhD’s etc), he spent years investigated the effects of energy healing on blood and brain chemistry and spent years in the company of shamans, a humbling experience that changed the course of his life and views. He writes with simplicity and gives examples from his own experience as well as those of clients.

The Four Insights is an excellent introduction to this ancient wisdom and energy medicine, explaining the four levels of perception with suggestions as to how we can how we can alter our own reality, by shifting perception into a higher realm. It is a pre-requisite to Shaman Healer Sage, How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of The Americas

4. The Grief Recovery Handbook, The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, & Other Losses updated to include How Grief Recovery Addresses Trauma & PTSD by John W. James & Russell Friedman

I haven’t reviewed this book for obvious reasons (My Long Absence Explained), but I have to include it on the list as it is a real gem and totally resonated for me when I needed it. Ironically, I bought this for research and had it sitting unread on my shelf, when the day arrived that I needed and was thoroughly comforted by it.

“Recovery from loss is achieved by a series of small and correct choices made by the griever. This book takes on the the specific challenge of reeducating anyone who has a genuine desire to discover and complete the emotional pain caused by loss.”

5. Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elisabeth Gilbert – I include this because I believe creativity is an essential key to unlocking or releasing suffering. Once we understand it, we find that creativity lies at the centre of our calling or purpose in life. I don’t mean the often quoted traditional form that some take to mean art, that’s one form, not do I mean a career. I mean that thing within us that yearns for expression, the thing that we like to do that makes us feel good. That keeps us sane.

“Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.

It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”

Tell me, do you have a favourite read for your spiritual well-being? Share it with us, I’m always looking for inspiration!

Further Reading Lists in the Series for Total Confinement

Top 5 on My TBR

Top 5 Nature Inspired Reads

Reading Lists for Total Confinement

Health and Well-Being

Our bodies are affected by what we eat, the air we breathe, how much we move and the strength of our immune systems. When these things are in balance they have a positive effect on the mind.

When we are told to stay at home, whether that’s due to recovering from an ailment or like now, to protect us from one, we risk becoming out of balance, physically and mentally.

We are discovering alternative ways to continue activities in unique ways, whether learning, exercising, preventing boredom or coping with the effect of the over abundance of panic/fear inducing news stories out there.

Some are creating suggestions for the #StayAtHome period, so when Paula at Book Jotter in her Winding Up the Week post asked if anyone was creating therapeutic reading lists, I thought I might create a few, I have shared a few of these titles with people already this week, being worthy titles that might assist or entertain us during this crisis.

I believe that what we consume affects our state of mind and that applies to our reading material as much as food. In order to bring balance, we can refer to books that have a positive effect on the mind, that allow us to stay in a calm, neutral state, an antidote to the excess of material and media that triggers fear, panic and other states of disequilibrium.

So over the next few days, I’ll be making a few suggestions from books I’ve read, according to the following themes, which I’ll link back to this page:

Top 5 Spiritual Well-Being Reads

  • books that suggest how to move to a perspective that fosters calm, helps prevents trigger inducing states, moves us out of drama and protects us from negative energies. And how to have fun doing it.

Top 5 Nature Inspired Reads

  • since we can’t all go there, these books put you in nature and allow you to appreciate it, going to places you’ll probably never visit, bought alive and evoking the senses without ever getting bored.

Top 5 Uplifting Reads

– they are few and far between in my opinion, books that actually make you laugh or feel good about humanity, the no drama, no trauma zone, feel good factor.

Top 5 Translated Fiction

– a sample from the millions that we’ll never read, the few that have made it through to be translated into English, providing us a glimpse into storytelling from parts of the world we probably don’t even know how to ‘Hello’ in.

Top 5 Memoirs

– Not the rich or famous, just glimpses into a slice of life of someone who has experienced something that gave them an interesting insight into life.

Top 5 Popular Fiction

– just a really good unputdownable read.

For today, I’m going to share the Top 5 Books on my TBR (To Be Read) across different genres and themes, which at the moment changes daily!

Top 5 Books On My TBR

1. Courageous Dreaming – How Shamans Dream the World Into Being (Spiritual) by Alberto Villoldo – I’ve read 3 or 4 books by Villoldo and loved them all, a psychologist and medical anthropologist who studied the spiritual practices of the Amazon and the Andes, he shares more of these ancient wisdom teachings. You can read my reviews of his other works here.

I’ve already read each of the opening chapter quotes, which I find reminiscent of our times, Chapter One, Escaping The Nightmare begins with the following thought-provoking epigram:

“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.”

GARRISON KEILLOR

2. The Shackle by Colette (Fiction) – I LOVE Colette, my favourite French classic author, a woman with attitude, totally outside her time, read Introduction to Colette (my review)here. I bought this novella because Vivian Gornick discusses The Shackle and The Vagabond in her new book Unfinished Business – Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader. I can’t read that till I’ve at least read The Shackle!

I have also read The Complete Claudine, (my review) a series of four novellas that can be read as one and I have Earthly Paradise, a selection of extracts from her  memoirs, notebooks, and letters which together provide an insight into her life.

3. The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden (Historical Fiction)– Last year I read Praise Song for the Butterflies,(my review) my first novel by McFadden and it was excellent. She seems to write well researched, easy reading novels that teach us something interesting, that earlier novel was inspired by a tale told her by two women she met when visiting Ghana concerning a practice called trokosi.

The Book of Harlan is historical fiction set during WWII about black American musicians in Paris invited to perform in a Montmartre, affectionately referred to by them as “The Harlem of Paris”. Also based on extensive research, it blends the stories of her actual ancestors and imagined characters.

4. Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie (Nature Essays) – One of my favourite nature essayists, Kathleen Jamie is a poet and an astute observer of sensory detail no matter what she is studying. Surfacing is her latest blend of memoir, cultural history, and travelogue of her visits to Alaska, Orkney and Tibet. From the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village in Alaska to its hunter-gatherer past to the shifting sand dunes of the preserved homes of neolithic farmers in Scotland, she explores the natural world, considering that which surfaces and that which connect us with the past.

My reviews of her debut collection Findings and Sightlines here.

5. Plainsong by Kent Haruf (Fiction) – There’s nothing like a good trilogy and I’ve read a couple of excellent ones, such as Sandra Gulland’s excellent historical fiction of the life of Josephine Bonaparte: The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion – Tales of Woe, The Last Great Dance on Earth and Nancy E Turner’s memoirs of her great grandmother Sarah Prine, an astonishing, willful, unforgettable pioneering woman who seeks a living in the harsh, untamed lands of the Arizona Territory circa late 1800’s, These is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, A Star Garden.

Kent Haruf’s Plainsong trilogy follows the lives of a cast of characters in a small farming town in Colorado.

Ursula K. Le Guin said when he passed away in 2014 that Haruf’s

“courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love – the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection – are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction”.

I’ve just finished Octavia E. Butler’s excellent novel Kindred, so tonight I’ll start one of these. Watch this space!

Please take care everyone, don’t take unnecessary risks, stay at home and be safe.

What exciting read do you have on your TBR to read next?