Upbeat Fiction for Your Online Book Club
Is your book club feeling the need for something uplifting to read? Maybe a book that even makes you laugh out loud but also offers something to sink your teeth into? I've scanned the fiction offerings from the last several years, and here are my suggestions.
2020 by Joyce, RachelGet this item
Truly comical at times, Miss Benson's Beetle hurtles along with an unpredictable, entertaining plot. Not without some serious elements, the melancholy never overwhelms, and the endearing, oddball characters impart a sweet note. I can really see this one as a movie, and no big surprise there, as the author has done a lot of writing for television.
2019 by Kane, Jessica FrancisGet this item
Forty-year-old reclusive May decides to reconnect with four old friends, not online but in messy face-to-face encounters. Given that this is exactly what we can't do right now, I invite your group to take vicarious pleasure in May's rediscovery of the nobleness and ridiculousness of ordinary people.
2020 by Yu, CharlesGet this item
A humorous, insightful, and creative novel about racial pigeonholing. Protagonist Wu has a bit part in a cop show, playing the role of Generic Asian Man, but hoping to advance to the better role of Kung-Fu Man. Written as a screenplay by another television writer (West World), enjoy this one in visual format.
2018 by Johnson, ChelseyGet this item
Andrea leaves her Midwestern Catholic family for the lesbian and art culture of Portland, OR, in this quietly engaging story. Goodreads describes it as an "anti-romantic comedy." Breaking rules and making bad decisions for the right reasons also describes it well. I loved it!
2017 by Greer, Andrew SeanGet this item
When almost-50-year-old Arthur Less learns that the man he loves is marrying someone else, he decides to avoid all his problems by taking an around-the-world trip in 80 days. What could possibly go wrong? A satire of the American abroad and a lyrically written comedy of the human condition, it won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
2017 by Rooney, KathleenGet this item
Nighttime in New York City doesn't stop 85-year-old Lillian from going out for a walk--because what goes on in the streets interests her. Sure enough, she encounters all kinds of people in moments of grace and generosity. The character of Lillian is based on Margaret Fishback, the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s. Lillian lives her life as she likes, with wit and humor, because "humor could lead, perhaps, to happiness."
2021 by Williams, EleyGet this item
An overworked intern is tasked with finding the bogus definitions a disaffected Victorian lexicographer inserted into a dictionary that is now being digitized. Insightful, nuanced, comedic, and whimsical, this is a word-driven story, as opposed to a plot- or character-driven one, one that will delight logophiles.
2017 by Jaswal, Balli KaurGet this item
Full of warmth and wit, this novel is set in London, where a group of mostly illiterate Punjabi widows gather to ostensibly learn English but instead begin to tell their stories in a way that is frowned upon by society. The women find their courage and become able to change the course of their lives.
2017 by Satyal, RakeshGet this item
Two Indian immigrants in their 40s feel they don't fit in with their suburban community or their families. A chance meeting leads to a friendship in which both feel seen and appreciated for the first time. Although it is a funny novel, Satyal's characters are not just played for laughs but are developed, in beautiful prose, with real tenderness and insight.
2019 by O'Leary, BethGet this item
If you're in the market for a heartwarming story that is more on the romantic side, look no further. Staff member Lynnanne says, "Leon and Tiffy are so human and deal with difficult issues. Yet they talk to each other like mature adults and don’t keep secrets. Just so delightful and swoon-worthy, plus funny."
2020 by Sittenfeld, CurtisGet this item
Depending on your group's political sensitivities, this novel may or may not be considered enjoyable. As a reimagining of Hillary's political career, with an inevitable strong focus on feminist issues and sex scandals, and with a truly unexpected twist in the latter part, I found it to be a welcome offering of other possibilities. It would make a good read for Women's History Month.
2017 by Moore, Edward KelseyGet this item
In this sequel to The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat, Moore revisits the trio of lifelong friends, now in their 60s, from the close-knit community of Plainview, Indiana. Excellent storytelling and a heartwarming story that brought tears to my eyes at its close. You can enjoy this book on its own, but why not read the prequel anyway. It too combines comedy and pathos in a big and wonderful way.