10 Books That Make Me Smile

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly tag done over at That Artsy Reader Girl. It's essentially a weekly list challenge based on a prompt provided at the beginning of each Tuesday on her blog. I'm not sure how often I'll participate here, but I do love the concept! List posts are some of my favorites to read, and often to write!

Now, for this week's Top Ten Tuesday... Here are ten books that always make me smile (though some can make me cry within the same chapter, so tread cautiously)

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

synopsis: Eragon, a poor farmer boy, enters the mysterious and cursed mountains in hunt of food for his family. What he finds instead is a mesmerizing blue stone that appears before him in a violent blast. Eragon takes the stone, thinking it could save the farm from their financial hardships. What he finds instead, is a dragon hatchling that will change him and the world forever.

Okay, I know picturing the whole series is technically my recommending four books instead of just one, but they are just so freaking good! The Inheritance Cycle is my favorite series ever, and likely always will be. They not only make me smile, but have made me laugh aloud, cry, grieve, scream in anger, and long for fellowship from a world of people I've never met.

The first book, Eragon, does specifically win a place in this list. Though it isn't my favorite in the series, it makes me smile every time I pick it up. It's the whole warm and fuzzy feeling one gets when starting off on a journey in a fantasy saga. The character is young and full of innocent blunderings and hope. Oh, the immense feeling of hope. It feels like Christmas. Eragon hands these fuzzy feelings over to you tenfold, and it only gets better with rereads. I love the first book dearly. I love watching Eragon and Saphira grow up and become best friends.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Synopsis: Sara Crewe is sent off to boarding school in England while her father fights in the war. Her affluence awards her unprecedented good treatment and Sara's classmates begin to call her "Little Princess" behind her back. At the news of her father's death, Sara loses her fortune and false friendships, and is forced to a life as a servant for the school. She loses everything... but her good nature and hope for happiness again.

When I was a little girl, I was always told I had a striking resemblance to Shirley Temple. I think it was really just my curly mane that reminded people of her. Regardless, I watched a lot of Shirley Temple movies with my mother whilst growing up, and this book's adaptation has always been my favorite. Years later, my now fiance gifted this book to me. Upon reading it, I was flooded with happy nostalgia. Now I reread this book every year and get to relive some of the happiest memories of my childhood while I do it.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Synopsis: Mary Lennox, a spoiled and contrary girl from the English colonies in India is sent to live with her estranged uncle when she is orphaned. Within her new home in the English moors, Mary finds a love for life in a most unlikely place: a secret garden locked up behind a stone wall. It's here that Mary transforms herself and those around her, and ultimately comes to face the secrets of the mysterious mansion she now calls home.

I don't apologize for putting two books by the same author in this list. I read a lot of graphic novels and Goosebumps as a kid, but when my 5th grade teacher loaned this book to me, it was the book that lit my passion for reading. This book was probably the first to ever make me cry. It demanded a lot of thoughtfulness from me at that age, and because of it I am the reader I am today. This book will always make me smile from its wholesomeness and it's meaning to me individually. I reread this one just about every year as well, and cherish the absolutely stunning copy my fiance gifted me.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis: When Coraline and her parents move to The Pink Palace, she knows she will have to suffer through their lack of attention to her, the batty old actresses in the basement, and the creepy man upstairs with the stinky cheese and alleged jumping mice circus. Then, while exploring the house, Coraline stumbles upon a little door that leads to... the house she just crawled out of? Except everything in this house is infinitely better, especially the parents. Except, why does everyone have buttons for eyes?

Yes, I know this is one of the scariest books out there-especially for a middle grade. Hear me out. This book was where I fell in love with Neil Gaiman. This book taught me that no matter how dire things may be, a little girl and a cat can squash whatever evil befalls them on their own. This isn't just a scary book, it's about being a strong independent badass little lady, and it's exactly what I needed at the time I first read it. Now, I reread it so much that it's more like curling up in my favorite cozy blanket than it is scary. Yes, it makes me smile. It makes me smile a lot.

Hero by Perry Moore

Synopsis: Thom Creed has gotten used to hiding secrets from his dad. It's not out of hate, but out of love. He doesn't want to see his dad hurt anymore. After The League caused his dad's ruin, Thom can't bring himself to admit that he has developed his own superpowers, nor will he mention that The League offered him a place in their ranks. He definitely won't tell his dad the biggest secret of all: Thom's gay.

If you know me, I'm not entirely crazy about LGBTQIA+ stories that are exclusively about the mc coming out. I think these stories are incredibly important, especially for the readers who are struggling with that very thing, or for straight readers to come to understand the strife of a queer individual. However, after living through being outed at a Catholic school... I'm not really interested in reliving that trope in any capacity too often. This book, however, is much more than the synopsis tells you. It's more than Thom coming out to his father. It's about learning to empathize, the struggles of being a disabled individual, being a true misfit, and how healing can be far more than surface injuries. Hero explores some incredibly difficult topics, and it all happens within a universe with superheros(!), and that's just perfect in my book.

What In God's Name by Simon Rich

Synopsis: So imagine heaven is actually some big corporation. Angels are working 9-5 desk jobs and God is your cliche lazy-bones CEO. In fact, Heaven Inc has been incredibly mismanaged for years, because God just doesn't really care about ending wars or famine any more. Actually, he's thinking about shutting the whole operation down to start an Asian Fusion restaurant and spend more time on the golf course. He'll simply destroy Earth and move on. Except two angels, Craig and Eliza, are devastated to hear that they are losing their jobs... so they strike a deal with God. If they can get the two most socially awkward people on Earth to fall in love... he will call the whole thing off.

I don't know if I've ever read a romantic comedy since this one (I doubt it, because neither of those things are genres I love), but I wish I could read this one with fresh eyes again. It was a lot of fun! I know, it sounds corny from the synopsis, but it's the best kind of corny. Guaranteed to make you smile.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis: In a mashed-up retelling of both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, we follow a young queen who sets off to save a princess who's fallen under a sleeping curse. The young queen throws off her wedding gown and sets off for the princess on the night of her wedding, vowing to determine her own fate. When she arrives in the princesses castle...[SPOILERS AND FEELS]

I've decided I can't talk too much about this one, because the thing that makes me smile/cry like a blubbering fool in this one is definitely a spoiler. You just have to trust me with this one. What's not to love? There's Neil Gaiman's brilliance, stunning illustrations, vivid retellings, Gothic/medieval settings, independent lady characters, and... the thing I can't talk about. READ IT!

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

I struggled in deciding if I should include a series' novella in this list. However, this one made my heart sing far too much not to include it on this list! I will skip the synopsis though, so as not to spoil anything from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I hear you, what's the point in paying for a tiny novella that doesn't really have anything to do with the main story? I too tend to avoid novellas unless I 100% LOVE the series that it's a companion to. Listen, though, this novella is perfection. PERFECTION. You want a book that makes you smile? This one. Best romance that's ever been written. That's all I've got for you.

The Great Forgetting by James Renner

Synopsis: The intricacies of a mundane life pulls Jack Felter begrudgingly back to his childhood home in Ohio. When his childhood friend disappears, Jack is pulled into a search party of conspiracies, danger, and oh-so-many secrets. Soon, this search for a friend, becomes a desperate attempt to save the world.

The plot isn't what puts this book on this list (though it is a pretty darn good book.) It's the setting. I come from a relatively small city. It's nothing like NYC which is the setting of countless books. With that said, this book is set at home. The main character races right through my hometown. The author pokes fun at the town's lame excuse of a mall by having the mc hide in it amongst many shoppers-shoppers who don't exist in the real mall. He drives right past the lake I swam in all throughout my childhood. It's such an odd experience to read a book set in your small bubble, but this one allowed me to do it. It absolutely makes me smile.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Synopsis (from GR, because theirs is perfectly eloquent): Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she's knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she's a super-nerd and the teacher's pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda's world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there's the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss ("The") Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

What isn't to love about Matilda? I always identified with Matilda's strength and independence, as well as her iconic love for reading. Matilda got an adult library card because she read all of the children's books by grade school... so I did too. (I didn't get through all of them, but I read enough to get special permission for an adult card.) If Matilda doesn't make you smile, I don't think there's any hope for you on this planet, sorry.

Thank you for visiting my Top Ten Tuesday! What are some books that make you smile?