Five Books That Will Make You Feel Better About the World

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely AlmostSummary

Albie has always been an “almost”–almost getting the answers right on the test, almost having his artwork chosen for display, almost getting to do the science fair.  But almost isn’t good enough, or so his father says.  Will Albie ever be good at anything or will he have to resign himself to always almost making his parents proud?

What Makes It Special

Most books about a protagonist who feels like they don’t have any unique talents or anything special about them usually ends with the protagonist discovering super powers or at least a latent ability to do something, anything–even if it’s just that they can tie a fantastic knot.  This kind of message is encouraging but still suggests that readers need to find their hidden super power.  Absolutely Almost is different because it really does celebrate a protagonist who does not end up being the Chosen One or a mean cookie baker or a late-blooming tap dancing star.  Albie likes doughnuts.  And that’s enough.

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

The Key to ExtraordinarySummary

For generations the women in Emma’s family have had dreams leading them to their destinies.  Emma can’t wait for the day her own special path is laid out before her.  But then the dream comes and it leads her to an old buried treasure.  Does Emma really have what it takes to solve the mystery?

What Makes It Special

Lloyd creates a magical world where it rains flowers and voices of the past give guidance to the men and woman of the present.  What makes this book extraordinary, however, is how it celebrates the ordinary.  Everyone here, no matter how loud or quiet, strange or boring, is seen as special.  Every life counts and everyone makes a difference.  It’s a heartwarming read that reminds us that we don’t have to be the same to be valuable.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

A Snicker of MagicSummary

Magic used to flow throughout the town of Midnight Gulch.  When twelve-year-old Felicity Pickle arrives, she hopes that enough remains to allow her family to grow roots in the first place that has ever felt like home.  Along with her first-ever friend Jonah Pickett, a do-gooder kid who helps her to believe in her own magic, Felicity will attempt to  make her family whole.

What Makes It Special

This book reminds me a little of a Miyazaki film because it believes so whole-heartedly in the goodness of people.  Felicity Pickle moves to a town where just about everyone is kind and helpful–and Felicity still manages to have adventures!  Best of all, she meets her first friend Jonah Pickett, a kid in a wheelchair who does his best to spread kindness through the town and manages to be inspirational instead of sickeningly sweet.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

At the Back of the North WindSummary

Diamond never dreamt that he would meet the North Wind–a being who takes him on journeys across the globe as she goes about her appointed tasks.  But his lovely experiences become fewer as he grows and soon he must face the hardships of everyday life.  But one who has been at the back of the North Wind never can forget the beauty there, or the promise of joy to come.

Why It’s Special

George MacDonald’s work could easily have become another sentimental work celebrating the cult of the child, but MacDonald believes so whole-heartedly in his own vision of goodness and charity that it seems impossible not to be swept away by the North Wind, just like Diamond.  He reminds us that life is often hard and bitter, but there are moments of beauty, too.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green GablesSummary

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert plan to adopt an orphan boy to help on the farm, but a mistake sends them eleven-year-old Anne Shirley instead.  Anne has an imagination as big as her heart, but also a penchant for getting into scrapes.

Why It’s Special

Anne has delighted countless of generations since Montgomery introduced her to the world in 1908.  With her love of life,  her ability to celebrate the beauty and joy of small things, and her knack for saying precisely the right thing to cheer somebody up, Anne feels like a breath of fresh air.  Maybe we all need a little Anne in our lives.

Krysta 64


6 thoughts on “Five Books That Will Make You Feel Better About the World

  1. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Anne of Green Gables was I childhood favorite for me. I have read that series more than I care to admit haha. I am very curious about A Snicker of Magic! Especially since you have compared it to Miyazaki films 🙂


  2. Donna says:

    I love the sound of Absolutely Almost, we need more stories about regular people who don’t have a super power. After all, the world has plenty of them (including me! :D) and we should say it’s okay to not have that magic little something.
    Okay, in fact, this whole list deserves to be read!


    • Krysta says:

      Talent shows always used to bother me when I was in elementary school because the narrative is “You all have a talent!” I mean…maybe. But not one you can exhibit at a talent show? I can give you a nice close reading of a text? So I like Absolutely Almost because it doesn’t put that kind of pressure on you to figure out your “hidden” talent. You can just continue being you.


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