The best uplifting novels that mix humor with poignancy

Who am I?

I like to read and write novels that are uplifting and life-affirming where the main character, who's often quirky and upbeat, must find their way out of the drama and chaos life has dealt them. Growing up in a family where humor – often black – reigned supreme, with a father who penned silly limericks, I’m drawn to seeing the funny side of things. Showing the light and dark of life in a comedic yet poignant way not only makes for entertaining reading but is enlightening and inspiring. I believe novels should reflect us and our failings while offering hope that it’ll all be alright in the end. 


I wrote...

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock

By Jane Riley,

Book cover of The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock

What is my book about?

Oliver Clock has everything arranged just so. A steady job running the family funeral home. A fridge stocked with ready meals. A drawer full of colour-coded socks. A plan (of sorts) to stay trim enough for a standard-sized coffin. And in florist Marie, he’s found the love of his life – not that she’s aware of it.

When a tragedy takes Marie out of his life, he discovers too late that she secretly loved him. Now faced with an empty love life, a family funeral business in trouble, a fast-approaching fortieth birthday, and a notebook of resolutions he’s never achieved, Oliver resolves to open himself up to life and love—and all the mess that comes with it.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

Jane Riley Why did I love this book?

What a joyous read! Which may seem like a funny thing to say when the story revolves around twelve-year-old Norman, mourning the loss of his best friend, and his single mother Sadie, who has past issues to resolve. But trust me, it’s so funny and cute and is a rollicking good read. They go on an adventure, with their elderly friend Leonard, to realise Norman’s (and his late friend’s) dreams of performing at the Edinburgh comedy festival, and to discover who Norman’s father is. Written from both characters’ points of view, you get to see different perspectives on their situation, which makes the story even more nuanced. I especially love Norman’s voice and how he’s so full of life and excitement for what the future may hold.  

By Julietta Henderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiring, feel-good Richard & Judy Book Club pick about a small boy with a big heart - and even bigger dreams.

'One of those gorgeous books that completely lifts your spirits and restores your faith in humanity' - Ruth Jones, co-creator of Gavin and Stacey and bestselling author of Us Three

It was a journey they would always remember . . . for a friend they'd never forget.

Norman and Jax are a legendary comedic duo in waiting, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they're fifteen. But when Jax dies before they…


Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Jane Riley Why did I love this book?

You can’t get more quirky than Eleanor Oliphant with her unique take on life and the people around her. She’s hilarious in her observations and her goal to meet – and date – a musician drives the narrative forward in an, often, comic way. But her idiosyncrasies hide a darker truth and as the novel progresses, the reality of what she’s dealing with is revealed. I loved this book for being able to combine the light and dark of life in a compelling way, as well as for the writing style and the original voice of Eleanor. We see her world as she sees it and are drawn immediately into her story. I didn’t want it to end but its ending is so satisfactory that I’m glad it did. 

By Gail Honeyman,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" -Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of…


Book cover of The Rosie Project

Jane Riley Why did I love this book?

Like my character, Oliver, the main protagonist in this novel, Don Tillman is searching for love – or more specifically, a wife. But he goes about it in an entirely different way. Whereas Oliver doesn’t know where to start, Don’s approach is methodical and scientific – appropriate given he’s a socially inept scientist. He creates The Wife Project as if he’s setting out to hire an employee or devising a financial plan, which makes for very funny reading. From the get-go, the character of Don with all his eccentricities and fastidiousness is nothing but charming. I love the originality of the premise and the character of Don.

By Graeme Simsion,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Rosie Project as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international bestselling romantic comedy “bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and…humor,” (Entertainment Weekly) featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love.

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her…


Book cover of Dinner with the Schnabels

Jane Riley Why did I love this book?

The main protagonist Simon Larsen reminds me a little of my character, Oliver Clock, where for a while things had been going pretty well for him, until they very definitely don’t. When Simon’s world collapses around him – his business fails and he loses the family home he can’t seem to find the best way out, let alone get off the couch. This is a funny, warm, and brilliantly observed novel about the chaos of marriage and families – especially those whom you’ve married into. As a writer, I admire the author’s clever way with words and as a reader, I laughed out loud in parts. 

By Toni Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dinner with the Schnabels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I loved every page of this funny, warm, delightful novel!' LIANE MORIARTY

'A smart, funny novel about love, marriage and family.' Weekend Australian

'With sharply observed characters and comic set-pieces to make you laugh out loud, Dinner with the Schnabels is great fun to read and casts a more mature and acerbic eye on modern masculinity.' Sydney Morning Herald, Fiction Pick of the Week

You can marry into them, but can you ever really be one of them?

A novel about marriage, love and family.

Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his…


Book cover of The Full Ridiculous

Jane Riley Why did I love this book?

In a similar vein to the previous book, this novel focuses on a man whose life is spiralling out of control. His professional life begins to crumble, he nearly gets run over by a car and his two teenage children get themselves into angst-causing strife. What I love the most about this book is that it’s narrated in the second person by the main character Michael who’s essentially having a mid-life crisis breakdown. This can be hard to pull off, but it works here as it’s like Michael’s providing commentary on himself and his life as if observing someone else. It makes for some hilarious writing, despite the serious theme. The author shows that sometimes to really appreciate the highs of life, you need to hit rock bottom first. 

By Mark Lamprell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Full Ridiculous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michaelo O’Dell is hit by a car, and when he doesn’t die, he is surprised and pleased. But he can’t seem to move, frozen in the crash position. He can’t concentrate, or control his anger and grief, or work out what to do about much of anything. His professional life begins to crumble, and although his wife Wendy is heroically supportive, his teenage children only exacerbate his post-accident angst. His daughter Rosie punches out a vindictive schoolmate, plunging the family into a special parent-teacher hell. Meanwhile, his son Declan is found with a stash of illicit drugs, and a strange…


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Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Book cover of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A medieval romance between a flame haired, fire hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the chivalrous knight who suffers an impossible love for her-- the daughter of the king he is sworn to protect.

A Yuletide Joust will determine who wins Princess Gabrielle's royal hand in marriage and her valuable dowry, the Breton kingdom of Finistère. Without a title of nobility, the man she loves--Sir Bastien de Landuc-- is ineligible to compete in the tournament, and she will be forced to marry a man she loathes.

Will Yuletide wishes make impossible dreams come true? Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie?

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

What is this book about?

Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king's precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the…


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