10 Character-Driven and Upbeat Books to Put You in a Good Mood

Posted on May 15, 2019

by April S

Welcome to our series highlighting books with a wide-range of appeal.

In each post, you’ll find great reading recommendations along with helpful descriptors that are designed to help you decide quickly if the book will hold appeal for you.

The books in this blog post were discovered using the appeal mixer on Novelist. They share similar elements, or appeal, like character-driven storylines with an upbeat tone. The stories are more focused on the characters and the tone is fun, lighthearted, hopeful and optimistic. Basically, these books are designed to put the reader in a good mood. Enjoy!

Character-Driven / Upbeat Novels

Books To Lighten Your Mood

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Bighearted and trenchantly observant, “The Bookshop of Yesterdays” is a lyrical story of family, love and the healing power of community. It’s a love letter to reading and bookstores, and a testament to how our histories shape who we become.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


  • Family Gatherings
  • Likeable Characters

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Unwillingly brought together to care for their ailing mother, three sisters who were named after famous Shakespearean characters discover that everything they have been avoiding may prove more worthwhile than expected.

Genres: Gentle Reads / Domestic Fiction


  • Amusing / Moving Tone
  • Lyrical Writing Style
  • Self-Discovery

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The owner of a 1988 music shop in a down-at-heel suburban community uses his talent for connecting customers to the music they seek and resists a chance at an intimate relationship with a beautiful young woman who hides a mysterious agenda and compels him to confront painful elements from his past.

Genre: Mainstream Fiction


  • Musical Reads / Opposites Attract
  • Awkward / Likeable / Quirky Characters
  • Romantic Tone
  • Engaging Writing Style

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

A social media lifestyle guru with millions of followers is disgraced by revelations about her identity, a downfall that compels brave choices that save her in more ways than she can imagine.

Genres: Contemporary Fiction


  • Bouncing Back
  • Flawed / Likeable Characters
  • Engaging Writing Style

A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith

The arrival of a second child for amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie is complicated by her 4-year-old’s lack of enthusiasm and a matchmaker’s request for help with a couple whose prospects have been overshadowed by sinister revelations.

Genres: Gentle Reads / Mysteries


  • Flawed / Likeable Characters
  • Heartwarming Tone
  • Engaging Writing Style

I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

Film scholar Felix Funicello is confronted by the ghost of a Hollywood silent film director who invites him to revisit scenes from his past and gain insights into the lives of three women who indelibly shaped his life.

Series: Wishin’ and Hopin’ – Book 2

Genres: Literary Fiction


  • Introspective Characters
  • Moving / Reflective Tone

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

When Ava Johnson discovers she is HIV positive, she journeys back to her sleepy northern Michigan hometown, where she manages to find new love.

Genre: Mainstream Fiction


  • Sassy Characters
  • Bittersweet / Irreverent Tone
  • Witty Writing Style

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

A follow-up to Firefly Lane returns readers to the world of Tully, Kate, and Tully’s mother, who explore their understandings about love, family, loss, and redemption while turning to each other in the hopes of salvaging their lives.

Genres: Contemporary Fiction


  • Search for Happiness
  • Heartwarming Tone

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes

Four American women become unexpected friends during a magical year in Tuscany marked by a writer’s complicated relationship with the subject of her biography, long-postponed dreams, and shifting senses of adventure and bravery.

Genres: Contemporary Fiction


  • Novels of Place
  • Likeable Characters
  • Descriptive / Engaging / Lush Writing Style

The Promise of Elsewhere by Brad Leithauser

A comic novel about a Midwestern professor who tries to prop up his failing prospects for happiness by setting out on the journey of a lifetime.

Genre: Humorous Stories


  • Second Act
  • Complex / Flawed / Relatable Characters
  • Descriptive / Engaging / Lyrical / Witty Writing Style
Looking for More Recommendations?

If the selections featured in this blog post fail to hit the mark, try exploring the new lists on our website or our Give 3 Get 3 service which provides personalized reading, listening and viewing recommendations.

Featured Image Credit: Image by xxolgaxx from Pixabay.

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