Having a terrible day (or year)? These good books to read for comfort are guaranteed to turn things around.

By Rebecca Renner
Updated January 07, 2019
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Credit: courtesy of publisher

When you’re having a bad day, it can seem like the little things are just piling up. You have a flat tire, you spilled your coffee, or your kids don’t manage to get out the door on time again. Whenever life is dragging you down, there are always good books to read for comfort. The authors of many books have been there before you. They’ve gone through it all, from heartbreak to major losses and every little failure and disappointment in between.

One way to shake off the blues is to have a good laugh (these books are sure to deliver). A humorous essay collection, like one of the widely read books by David Sedaris, will definitely hit the spot. Funny memoirs by celebrities are great options, too, especially when they make fun of common problems or let you escape the mundane day-to-day of life. Learning how to laugh at what life throws your way is an easy way to make life more bearable. Try to find a book with a narrator who is experiencing the same issue as you are. If they can laugh at their trouble, so can you.

When laughter doesn’t soothe your heart, some encouragement might do the trick. Self-help or popular science books about happiness or positivity can help get you out of a rut or look at the world a little differently. Look for a book with a friendly narrator or someone who talks to you like a friend. These often offer the best advice, and if you’re feeling lonely, this kind of positive knowledge will lift your spirit.

You can also grab good books that deal specifically with the spiritual side of life. Even if spirituality makes you feel a little skeptical, many excellent novels offer a spiritual lesson along with the story.

No matter what is raining on your day, a book can be your umbrella. Pick up one of these good books to read, and you might discover a brighter outlook.

RELATED: Good Books to Read When You Need a Vacation, But Can't Get Away

Credit: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers


Bad things happen on a daily basis. Dealing with your mental health is hard, but you can still live a life of joy, and if you’re like Jenny Lawson, a life of downright peculiarity. In this wise, strange memoir, Lawson talks about finding her people, letting loose with her own weirdness, and discovering how it feels to belong while letting her freak flag fly.

To buy: $1, amazon.com.

Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House


Do you have one of those friends that can complain about anything, but their complaints are entertaining, literary delights? No? Well, Nora Ephron can satisfy that itch. In I Remember Nothing, Ephron, the late writer and creator of beloved movies like You’ve Got Mail, holds forth on the weird and wonderful changes that define modern life. Don’t read this book in public: People will keep giving you weird looks when you can’t stop laughing.

To buy: $13, amazon.com.

Credit: Courtesy of Hachette Book Group


If you’re a David Sedaris fan, this book is a must-read. But even if you aren’t, there are some big take-aways you can glean from the minutia of his everyday life. Theft by Finding is a polished version of Sedaris’s diary from 1977 to 2002. In that time, Sedaris goes from a nobody—dabbling in drugs and writing in a Waffle Houseto the major literary star many of us know so well. If you’re struggling, trying to follow your own dreams, you’ll find encouragement and commiseration with Sedaris.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.

Credit: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers


If you’re much of a self-help book fan, try this novel instead. In Paulo Coelho’s modern masterpiece, The Alchemist, a shepherd boy sets forth on a quest to find his “personal legend.” This book is about following your dreams, true, but it’s also about an individual’s search for meaning. If you’re feeling stuck, The Alchemist’s wisdom may be the push you need to get your life going again.

To buy: $14, amazon.com.