Is there anything worse than reading a depressing book?
I contend that there isn’t.
Even thought I was a literature major, I really resented being told to read books that told me the height of human existence was suffering. Just think about it: Othello. The Grapes of Wrath. The Scarlett Letter. Jane Eyre. They’re books about suffering and pain and struggle. If I want to read about that, I’ll read the news, and hopefully do something to alleiviate it.
I wanted to know: Where are the happy classics?
It turns out I don’t own an awful lot of classic literature, so here are a few books I plucked off my shelves.
Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams
So, give me hopeful sci-fi any day. Douglas Adams, best known for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, always writes humorous, hopeful science fiction. I think his books are modern classics, but everyone should give them a try.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
So, Christmas has turned into an absolute stupid fucking thing in recent years, but give this novella a try. It’s a short, quick read with a story you already know. It’s brilliant and joyous and makes you feel like a better person when you finish it. There are few stories I can think of from that era that is as uplifting.
Contact, Carl Sagan
The universe is endless, and with books like Contact give me hope that one day, we will see the other as a source of inspiration and joy. Don’t be afraid of the unknown.
The Complete Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
If you ever want to laugh through tears about someone who deeply, deeply understands what it’s like to be an other, pick up Dorothy Parker. She’s my literary hero.
Jeeves & Wooster, P.D. Wodehouse
A comedy of manners like no other. If you’re familiar with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, you know these characters. Classic literature of the jet-set crowd that makes you feel better than The Great Gatsby ever could.