The Music of Bees
This heartwarming debut novel follows three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life’s curveballs. They are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing—and maybe even a second chance—just when they least expect it.
Evvie Drake Starts Over
In a seaside town in Maine, Evvie Drake rarely leaves her empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. In New York City, Major League pitcher Dean Tenney can’t throw straight anymore and can’t figure out why. When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken.
How Not to Die Alone
Andrew works a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Due to a long-standing misunderstanding, his coworkers think he goes home to a loving family each night, but he has lived alone for 20 years. When a new employee named Peggy breezes into the office, Andrew must figure out how to get out from under the little white lie that’s keeping him from living.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The only child of a single mother, Nina Hill has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, and a cat named Phil. When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by and want to meet her. It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction.
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
Professor Chandra is a renowned economist, divorced father of three, and recent victim of a bicycle hit-and-run. In the moments after the accident, he doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes but his life’s work. He’s just narrowly missed the Nobel Prize (again), and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas. Professor Chandra needs to take a break from the stress and follow his bliss.
Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in—and never has. Living alone in Dublin, the neighbors treat her like she’s crazy, social workers seem to have registered her as troubled, and she hasn’t a friend in the world. So, she decides it’s time to change her life: She begins by advertising for a friend. Not just any friend. She wants one named Penelope. And one day, Penelope responds.
How to Stop Time
Tom Hazard has just moved back to London to become a high school history teacher. On his first day, he meets a captivating French teacher. But Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look 41, but he’s been alive for centuries. He’ll have to decide whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Harold Fry, recently retired, lives in a small English village with his wife, who seems irritated by everything he does. When a woman he hasn’t seen in 20 years writes him a letter from hospice to say goodbye, Harold sets off on an urgent quest to her bedside. Determined to walk 600 miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.
Ellie and the Harpmaker
Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t completely understand. When Ellie Jacobs comes across Dan’s barn, she’s enchanted by his collection. Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. In many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.
Death and Other Happy Endings
When Jennifer Cole is given a terminal diagnosis, instead of running off to complete a frantic bucket list, she chooses to write letters to the three most significant people in her life, to say the things she wished she’d said before. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. As Jennifer soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you.
The Bride Test
Khai Diep has no feelings. His family knows better—his autism means he just processes emotions differently. Though he avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him a bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down. But seducing Khai doesn’t go as planned.
The Story of Arthur Truluv
Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. Arthur Moses rides the bus to the cemetery each day to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew.
Night of Miracles
Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake and other sweet essentials. When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most.
The Reckless Oath We Made
Zee is nobody’s fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead’s temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her 5-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss. Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is a knight, complete with sword, armor, and a code of honor. Two years ago, the voices he hears called him to be Zee’s champion. Both shy and autistic, he’s barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
There’s a little bit of Eleanor Oliphant in all of us. Socially awkward. Prone to odd habits. Loaded with childhood baggage. But we’re completely fine… most of the time. Some may carry the mantle of successful adulthood more gracefully than others, but the majority of us are just bumbling through life, trying to fit in, with perhaps a few too many drinks on the weekend.
The quirky and damaged heroine of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine makes a lasting impression on readers not only because she’s so relatable, but also because she’s a survivor. We root for her to overcome trauma and find happiness because it’s what we want for ourselves as well. If, like me, you still hold a place in your heart for Eleanor, here are 14 more books with lovable protagonists and uplifting stories to root for.
Featured Image by Penguin Books team