1. The Goodness of Dogs

India Knight

All sorts of different books can cheer us up, not just funny ones. The best I think are those we can dip into and quickly lose ourselves within the pages. I don’t think I’m alone in finding guidebooks transporting and uplifting. For instance, I love India Knight’s The Goodness of Dogs: The Human's Guide to Choosing, Buying, Training, Feeding, Living With and Caring For Your Dog

The title alone makes me happy and calm. Written in her inimitable witty, assured style, it manages to convey the joy of dogs while also offering helpful (and quite tough) reminders of the responsibilities involved. The illustrations by Sally Muir are glorious, too.


2. At My Table

Nigella Lawson

Likewise, leafing through cookery books can be a very pleasing pastime. Because of her unashamed love of food and eating, Nigella Lawson is often the best for this. At My Table is full of purpose and joy. There’s a sticky toffee pudding recipe (on p. 216) which reads almost as good as it tastes, with dark muscovado sugar and black treacle and gallons of fresh cream. And after reading a delicious recipe there’s every likelihood of some kind of baking, and that’s always very cheering.

Find recipes from At My Table on The Happy Foodie.


3. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾

Sue Townsend

Pick up this book (or any Adrian Mole book) and let it fall open anywhere for an instant burst of cheering humour and snapshot of the 1980s. Adrian is a most loveable narrator – ordinary, neurotic, and naïve - and no matter how well you know him he never fails to delight and soothe. The thing I love most about him is that he makes it not only OK to worry about things, but funny and endearing, and that alone makes you feel better.


4. The Diary of Nobody

Charles and Weedon Grossmit

This is the funniest book I have ever read and I am intensely jealous of anyone who has the joy of discovering Charles Pooter still to come. Like Mole, Pooter is funny because we recognise ourselves in him. Unlike Mole, he has a healthy self-regard bordering on delusion. Co-written by the Grossmith brothers in the late 1880s and never out of print since, I like to imagine them having a cheerful time writing it together. Very dippable and cheering.


5. Calypso

David Sedaris

All David Sedaris’s books are perfect for dipping into - short essays and stories and the first volume of his Theft by Finding: Diaries. I wouldn’t call Sedaris’s world escapism exactly, but his funny sideways, warts and all take on life will leave you gasping, nodding, and laughing out loud. His latest collection, Calypso, is, like his others, a joy and I think listening to the author reading his work is the most cheering thing a person can do.



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