5 feel-good books to read while social distancing

Woman looking at book in library

As social distancing keeps us from our friends, school and jobs, we still can escape to another world through books. 

In our search for stories that would make us feel good amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked Mercer University librarians for recommendations. 

They came through with novels that take you to fantasy worlds, make you laugh and show you how tragedy can bring out the best in others.  

Here are five feel-good books to read while social distancing, as recommended by Mercer library staff. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik  

I’m a big fan of fantasy novels, and I especially love retellings of fairy tales. This is one of the best of that genre I’ve ever read. It has unexpected twists and turns, the characters are well-rounded and likable, and Novik’s writing style keeps you wrapped up in the story. Also, if you end up liking it, there’s another book, Spinning Silver, set in the same universe. 

— Kristen Bailey, Humanities Research Services Librarian 

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux 

I’ve always loved Little Women, and the movies (especially the ones from 1994 and 2019) are my comfort films. Had a bad day? Cheer up with the March sisters. This non-fiction book about Louisa May Alcott, the history of Little Women and its current influence on society was a joy to read. I learned so many things about the author (the novel is semi-autobiographical!) and the creators that are influenced by her today.  

— Kristen Bailey, Humanities Research Services Librarian 

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci   

All the elements of a grand story to pass the time are found inside — a cross-county train ride, personal items going lost, a story within the story, romance and even a horseback rescue. 

— Theresa Rhodes, Assistant Dean for Collection Services 

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede   

The United States stopped all incoming planes on 9/11. This is the story of planes that landed and eventually allowed their passengers on the ground in Gander, Newfoundland. Learn how this small town came to the aid of these strangers, including taking care of animals that were on the planes. 

— Theresa Rhodes, Assistant Dean for Collection Services 

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett 

The Colour of Magic is the first title of the fantasy Discworld series. The novels in the series are very funny. They make you feel good. In times like we are seeing now, a good laugh is needed. 

— David Hunt, Library Systems Specialist 


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Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.