This week’s That Artsy Reader Girl topic feels the perfect transition back into posting on the blog because creating these next two months of posts have been nothing short of joyful. After a month off in August, it’s so good to be back, and I am just glowing with excitement over something as simple as creating a TTT list.

Once & Future by AR Capetta & Cory McCarthy might seem like a weird choice for this topic, but hear me out. This book is, hands down, the gayest thing I have ever read. And that includes an entire shelf of queer contemporary, which doesn’t include all of the queer fantasies that I’m now thinking I should dedicate a shelf to, wait, that would be so fun. This book would definitely star on that shelf, though, because I think every single character might be queer? Except for the single straight character that they all kind of tease about being straight, which is just wow levels of awesome. Every time I think about this truly insane rollercoaster of a story, it just makes me light up with joy.

If you’re not screaming YESSSS LIZ LIGHTY GET IT GIRL by the end ofYou Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, what are you even doing with your life? I mean, just look at her face on that cover, you’re already grinning. The sheer determination with which Liz Lighty approaches life gives me DO IT YOU WON’T vibes in such epic proportions that every time I think of this book, I have to get my ass up and do the thing I’ve been procrastinating.

I was going back and forth on which Claire Kann book to pick for this, but then I remembered that I straight up ugly cried over If It Makes You Happy in such a way that I couldn’t see the book anymore, so here we are with Let’s Talk About Love! I feel like I should note that I ugly cried because it did something similar as I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver in that I felt so seen, I kind of couldn’t breathe. But Let’s Talk About Love is such a heartfelt exploration of the ace spectrum, and it made me squee with joy just like Alice would because UGH THE FEELS.

The amount of times that I texted my friend “this is an absolute delight” while reading B*WITCH by Paige McKenzie & Nancy Ohlin is pretty indicative, I think, of how much joy this book brought me. I mean, honestly, the title alone does it for me, but then there’s the using Pokemon cards as tarot cards, making sure all the ingredients they use are locally sourced & vegan, having a grimoire built solely on their phones, and just the constant pop culture references. This book is like an overload of goodness for a practicing witch, and I was constantly cackling out loud over how much I loved it.

I can’t remember if By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery is necessarily overflowing with joy because I’m pretty sure the MC is stressed tf out for the entire book, but it hella cute, and I’m not just talking about the bees. (Although, seriously, gay boys and bees? I’m smiling just thinking about it.) There’s so few queer contemporary novels set in college, and this one had messy MCs to boot, as well, so there’s a lot about this book to love, much of which culminates in a block party fundraiser to save the bees, and MY HEART.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey was an auto-buy purely based on the title, and I regret nothing. This book was exactly what I wanted it to be–a little bit angsty, A LOT of baking, fangirl amounts of London aesthetic, and so much damn tea. This is just Feel Good™ central, let me tell you. Yes, this book actually has a plot, and the characters are really well fleshed out, and it’s more than just scones & sweaters, but also? I live for the aesthetic of this book.

Coming at you with two middle grades because what is more joy-inducing than stories about childhood friends coming together to feet ghosts and elitism? NOTHING! Truly, Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega makes me smile on the pure basis of its plot (and cat). The very idea of two young girls duking it out against malevolent ghosts while backed by the almighty power of their familial ghosts and the uncertain power of their newly budding magic is just–YES PLEASE. And to combine that with a fat cat that goes along on all their adventures?? See, now you’re smiling, too.

It’s been a minute since I last talked about Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez, and I am so hyped that we’re here again talking it up because this book is adorable, and it makes me so happy. This story of four unlikely and outcast girls coming together to form a girl scout troop when they’re told that they’re not the right kind of people is just all the heartwarming that I need in my life. Plus, they get up to some crazy antics to prove that they do matter, and I spent the entire book cheering them on with their quiet acts of vandalism.

Hey, Netflix? I’m still waiting on a Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen adaptation, please, and you kind of fell through on releasing it this summer, so next summer? Yeah? Thanks, I appreciate it because I need to see these queer besties helping each other find love adapted into a film, or I’m just going to have to periodically read this book for an endorphin booster because wow this book will rot your teeth out with its complicated best friends and its summer of love vibes.

I know that Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson seems like an odd choice, much like the first one on this list, but again, hear me out. Who doesn’t want to see a badass woman in a dress wielding a sword against a monstrous grimoire that later becomes best friends with a sorcerer and the demon that’s become like a father to him? You’re happier just having read that sentence because of course everyone wants that, and of course it’s going to make you stupid grin at the sheer awesomeness of it, YOU’RE WELCOME.

What books always bring you joy?

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

4 replies on “TTT: Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile on Your Face

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