The presidential debates were the other night and, well ...

...Yeah. This is not the place to dissect that particular pile of offal.

I was thinking that perhaps this would be a good time to suggest some reading that might make you smile. As in, turn off the tv, turn off the pundits, unplug from Facebook (but not our page!), and treat yourself to something that might make you grin, or laugh, or just feel better about things. Books serve many purposes in life, and making you happier is one of them.

With that, I present to you: Five books that make me feel better when the world is making me feel terrible. Hopefully one of them will resonate with you!

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Starla Huchton has written an amazing series of flipped fairy tales -- stories that you think you know told from an entirely new perspective. They are magic. When I'm in a "People are TERRIBLE. Why are they so terrible?!?" kind of mood, I reach for one of the books in this series, but this one MIGHT be my favorite.

If you've not read any of this series, please start with this book. I won't spoil it by telling you which fairy tale it is flipping, but I will tell you that it is a wonderful read, and Starla is outstanding at worldbuilding. You should read this.

If you want to know more about Starla, you can go here and her books are available on Amazon.com.

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The truth is that Pride and Prejudice is not my favorite Austen novel -- Persuasion holds that honor -- but if I'm in a bit of a funk, I make a cup of tea, curl up in my favorite chair, and spend some time with the Bennett family. I could say so much about Austen as a writer (I was, after all, an English Lit. major) but I'll hold myself to this: Austen writes characters that are like real people. People in your neighborhood. People you know. However, she is not afraid to make the ridiculous people look, well, ridiculous ... and that is only one of the many, many things that makes this wonderful.

Also? Mr. Darcy.

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Look, I definitely don't want to take away from the movie version of this, which is amazing, but seriously. If you have not read the book, you really should. Like, you should get it right now. Just go get your e-reader or get your car keys and go to a bookstore or a library and GET IT. I'll still be here when you get back.

(... makes cup of coffee, hums a little song to herself, catches up on email ...)

OH YAY! You're back and you have the book!

Just ... do yourself a favor, okay? Read this. It will make everything in your life better. I promise. (Again, you can watch the movie. The movie is wonderful. But this book is ... it's everything the movie is and more. Please read it.)

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This is a newer favorite of mine, and one I rely on when I need to immerse myself in something interesting, beautiful, and a little bit odd. The Night Circus is a book I keep recommending to people in general because I just really love it, but I especially recommend it if you are feeling like you need to escape into a magical and lovely place.

If you can get your reader-hands on a hardcover version of this, I would suggest doing so simply because there is some interesting artwork in the hardcover that supports the magical qualities of the novel; I don't know if those exist in the paperback version. (I think they should, but I don't know that they do.)

If you'd like to know more about Erin Morgenstern and her work, click here. The Night Circus is her first full-length novel and, again, it's the perfect escape from the nonsense that pervades daily life.

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This is also a newer find for me -- Dan got me a subscription to The Book Drop, which has been MARVELOUS (and which is run by an independent bookstore, and you should check it out because it was one of the best gifts I ever received) -- and this was one of the books I was sent. At first, I was a bit skeptical but it quickly sucked me in.

For our readers who don't like fantasy or magic or sci-fi (I see you out there, Mom), this is a lovely read about a young woman trying to make her way in the world. There's also a bit of a treasure hunt, and some dashing young men ... and that's all I'm going to say. Set in Victorian England, this is an excellent "get me out of here" novel.

There you have it. Five novels, five bits of happy to take you away when the gloomy fog of reality threatens to descend and ruin everything. These books are a bit of sunshine you can carry around with you, and I think we all need that more than ever.