16 Books to Read if You’re Having a Bad Day

16 Books to Read if You’re Having a Bad Day
Contributor: Bree Grant
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

Whether you’re going through a breakup, battling anxiety, going through an identity crisis or just generally having a bad day, a feel-good book and help you escape it all, even just for a little while. 

If you’re reading this is looking a little thin, we’ve got a good book to cure every bad mood, day, month and even year. Feel inspired by the astonishing resilience and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and peoples in Aussie Marlee Silva’s My Tidda, My Sister. 

Get in the mood to shattering ceilings with Teen Vogue’s Elaine Welteroth’s in More Than Enough. Learn to sit with your feelings in It’s OK to Feel Things Deeply by artist Carissa Potter, and UnF*ck Your Brain with Dr Faith G. Harper

Become a breakup boss with Zoë Foster Blake and learning to love being single with Chidera Eggerue. See the funny side of your f*ck ups with Thomas Mitchell and messily wade your way through your twenties with Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews; This reading list really has something for everyone.

Scroll to shop our feel-good book list. 

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

feel-good books

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae, $24.75

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss. Brought to you by Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, the book explores her introverted thoughts while she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, and even “rapping”. Written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cyber sexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain and learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all. 

Today I F****d Up by Thomas Mitchell

feel-good books

Today I F****d Up by Thomas Mitchell, $21.25

When a trip to meet his new girlfriend’s grandparents ends in disaster (think a crashed ute, an angry wasp and a cranky farmer with a shotgun), Thomas Mitchell knows one thing for sure: bad days make for great stories. While we might not like to admit it, we can’t help but find a sneaky pleasure in other people’s misfortune. Today I F***D Up is a collection of tall tales but true that are equal parts hilarious and horrifying; a timely reminder that no matter how terrible things get, they could always be worse. So much worse.

My Tidda, My Sister by Marlee Silva, Rachael Sarra (Illustrator)

My Tidda, My Sister by Marlee Silva, Rachael Sarra (Illustrator), $24.25

My Tidda, My Sister shares the experiences of many Indigenous women and girls, brought together by author and host of the Tiddas 4 Tiddas podcast, Marlee Silva. The voices of First Nations’ women that Marlee weaves through the book provide a rebuttal to the idea that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. For non-Indigenous women, it demonstrates the diversity of what success can look like and offers an insight into the lives of their Indigenous sisters and peers.

Featuring colourful artwork by artist Rachael Sarra, this book is a celebration of the Indigenous female experience through truth-telling. Some stories are heartwarming, while others shine a light on the terrible realities for many Australian Indigenous women, both in the past and in the present. But what they all share is the ability to inspire and empower, creating a sisterhood for all Australian women.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, $21.25

From the number-one New York Times Bestseller and Ted Talk sensation Brené Brown, Daring Greatly explores how every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable.

Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect. But through her powerful new vision, Dr Brené Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that vulnerability is a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.

The Space Between by Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews

feel-good books

The Space Between by Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews, $26.25

In this book, Shameless Podcast hosts Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews try to unpack that weird time in your twenties that’s fuelled by cheap tacos and even cheaper tequila. Your twenties are a special kind of limbo between being a teenager and a Proper Adult, and though it’s wildly confusing, often lonely, sometimes embarrassing and frequently daunting, there’s also a whole lot of magic to be found in the chaos. Brimming with wit and unflinching honesty, the girls share their stories and personal puzzles about life as twentysomethings: from heartbreak and mental health challenges to overcoming career setbacks and letting go of fear. (Not forgetting the deeper meaning behind the states of their fridges and why it’s so damn good to ghost out of a friend’s party.) Amen! 

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

feel-good books

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, $27.75

More Than Enough is a part-manifesto, part-memoir and part-love letter from the revolutionary editor of Teen Vogue who is credited with infusing social consciousness into the pages of the teen title, and exploring what it means to come into your own – on your terms.

Elaine Welteroth has climbed the ranks of media and fashion, shattering ceilings along the way. In this riveting and timely memoir, the groundbreaking editor unpacks lessons on race, identity, and success through her journey, from navigating her way as the unstoppable child of an unlikely interracial marriage in small-town California to finding herself on the frontlines of a modern movement for the next generation of change-makers. As a young boss and the only black woman in the room, she’s had enough of the world telling her – and all women – they’re not enough. As she learns to rely on herself by looking both inward and upward, we’re ultimately reminded that we’re more than enough.

Make Your Bed by William H McRaven 

Make Your Bed by William H McRaven, $17.50

According to Admiral William H. McRaven, If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. Sounds simple enough, no? Admiral William H. McRaven’s book explores the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career but also throughout his life. He shows readers how anyone can use these basic life lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better. 

Unf*ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper

Unf*ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, $20.75

In this book, Dr Faith explains with humour, patience, science, and lots of swearing how our brains do their best to help us out, but every so often they can be real asshole-having meltdowns, getting addicted to things, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. Dr Faith explains what’s going on in your skull, and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life, and to deal effectively with old, or newly acquired, traumas (particularly post-traumatic stress disorder).

What a Time to be Alone by Chidera Eggerue

feel-good books

What a Time to be Alone by Chidera Eggerue, $19.99

In What A Time To Be Alone, The Slumflower (Chidera) will be your life guru, confidante and best friend. She’ll show you that being alone is more than just okay: it’s actually one of the best freaking things that can ever happen to you. As she says, ‘You’re bad as hell and you were made with intention.’ It’s about time you realised it. Peppered with insightful Igbo proverbs from Chidera’s Nigerian mother and full of her original artwork, What A Time To Be Alone will help you navigate the modern world. We can all decide our fates and Chidera shows us how, using a three-part approach filled with sass, wisdom and charm.

Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein

feel-good books

Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein, $21.25

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein shows you how. In Super Attractor, she lays out the essential methods for manifesting a life beyond your wildest dreams. This book is a journey of remembering where your true power lies. You’ll learn how to co-create the life you want. You’ll accept that life can flow, that attracting is fun, and that you don’t have to work so hard to get what you want. Most important, you’ll feel good. And when you feel good, you’ll give off a presence of joy that elevates everyone around you.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, $15.25

In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Bridgerton reveals how saying YES changed her life. This book has been dubbed profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny, in Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes inspires readers everywhere to change their own lives with one little word: Yes.

It’s OK to Feel Things Deeply by Carissa Potter

It’s OK to Feel Things Deeply by Carissa Potter, $21.90

This book is like a hug from a friend when you need it most: It’s both a reminder that it’s normal to feel things deeply and a companion for actually feeling better. With tons of empathy and a touch of humour, artist Carissa Potter offers wisdom on how to move through difficult emotions with practical steps to kickstart the process – ranging from soaking in a tub and having a good cry to talking to houseplants or hosting a private dance party. Filled with love and bright colours, this book is a little dose of love when you most need it. 

Atomic Habits by James Clear 

Atomic Habits by James Clear, $26.25

People think that when you want to change your life you need to make huge, drastic changes. However, world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call. He calls them atomic habits. In this ground-breaking book, he reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He shares a handful of simple life hacks and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter. Along the way, he tells inspiring stories of Olympic gold medalists, leading CEOs, and distinguished scientists who have used the science of tiny habits to stay productive, motivated, and happy.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, $17.50

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you’re keen to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

Break-up Boss by Zoë Foster Blake

Break-up Boss by Zoë Foster Blake, $17.50

Break-ups are awful, and they’re very real, but that doesn’t mean they get to take over your whole life for a year. You can take charge. You can be the boss of your break-up. You can choose to see it as a gift. And you dang well should! Life is too short not to learn and grow from our romantic upheavals, then move the hell forward! Break-up Boss gives you all the tools and techniques (and lots of lectures – cute!) to deal with all of the stages of your break-up, and just as you need it: in your pocket, as you’re about to call your ex/have another shot of tequila. This is a Real Life, no-nonsense picture of a break-up, and an enthusiastic, empowered and positive view of how to deal with it.

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

feel-good books

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given, $29.59 

Florence’s debut book will explore all progressive corners of the feminist conversation; from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity.

WDOYP is an accessible leap into feminism, for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or too much, it’s time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society.

Happy reading!

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At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


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