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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

My Happy Books

Happiness, as we all know, is subjective. Still, books in all their forms and genres have always been my happy place. I've listed below some of my favorite books, some which focus specifically on helping us find joy and others that were just amazing stories I've never forgotten.


The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I read this book years ago when I was first going through a divorce, and it changed reality as I knew it. That sounds like a big claim, right? It is. And let me also say I attempted to read this book in my early twenties and put it down without finishing it-the timing wasn't right. It reappeared in my life during a time when everything I had been for the previous decade was dissolving around me. I needed to live in the present moment and this is the book that taught me how.


You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.

This is a personal development book that's written like advice from your best friend (who has a potty mouth and keeps it real). Jen dishes out sage advice on recognizing your worth and she talks about her own story of transitioning from a rather lost twenty-something to being a successful author and business woman.


Atomic Habits by James Clear

This book was a game changer for me when it came to understanding how to shift my daily habits. We tend to take our habits for granted in terms of their power to bring about massive shifts in our life, but ultimately it's what we do in tiny increments day after that create our future happiness.


The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

This book is especially powerful for creatives. It's a path out of the darkness when you're feeling stuck, blocked or struggling to start. I read this book and followed the course within it many years ago and I still find it an invaluable resource.


On Writing by Stephen King

Technically this is called a writing book. I don't think of it that way. It's largely a memoir. Whenever I listen to the audiobook or read the paperback, I feel as if I'm talking to my dad or one of my uncles. King is a true storyteller and I experience this book like I'm sitting around a table, playing cards with my now deceased father, as he tells me the crazy stories of his childhood. (And there's also a lot of great writing advice).


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Wow, this book is amazing. Again, it's especially useful for creatives, but I believe anyone would feel uplifted by Gilbert's deep (and magical) insights into creativity.

While I'm on the topic of Elizabeth Gilbert. Let me also mention Eat, Pray, Love, which is a memoir that is so moving and inspiring, I still regularly buy copies to give to friends. Again, this book can be especially timely when you're at a crossroads in life and it's oh so resonant.


Fiction: Ahh! There are too many to add here. I'm adding five of my favorites because I have to pick up my son from school at some point and could easily spend six hours contemplating these recommendations.


Rose Madder by Stephen King

This is the first novel I read by Stephen King. I was twelve years old and on a holiday trip to Las Vegas (which was also a first) with my family. I still remember sitting in the hotel room with the endlessly bright and popping lights of Las Vegas outside the window and disappearing into this very unique story of a battered woman who finds salvation in a magic picture. Truly, it is an exceptional read.


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

This is the first book I read by McMahon and I was instantly hooked. I remember scouring the library after I read this one and reading everything she'd written. This is a creepy supernatural ghost story set in a small town in Vermont.


Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

I read this moving (and spooky) ghost story this year and it has stuck with me. It is not only deeply emotional-the plot itself is riveting.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I'm not a big reader of historical fiction, but Morton weaves these intricate mystery plots with characters and settings that feel so real it's as if you were there. I've read many of her books and loved every single one of them.


I absolutely loved this book. The prose was beautiful and the story brought me to tears. Though it's not a spooky book, there is a murder mystery as part of a dual timeline. It is an exquisite read.




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