Books that bring joy and provoke thought

27 July 2021

What's better than escaping into a good book? Here are team FQ's book recommendations to bring joy and provoke thought.

WORDS BY Hemma Vara

Books can provide us with an escape from reality, make us laugh or cry, and guide us on our journeys of self-discovery to find happiness.

If you’re seeking change in the form of a new read, here are team FQ’s book recommendations to bring joy and provoke thought.

Sarah Murray, Managing Editor

I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell

I love a memoir, and this one is written with such unflinching rawness it immediately pulls you in. Written as a series of essays that jump around through time, O’Farrell expertly chronicles all her near misses with death including a childhood illness, a haemorrhage during childbirth and most chilling—a chance encounter with someone who it  later transpired murdered another woman. Despite its dark premise, there is something about these stories that (by the end) will make you feel so alive. 


Danielle Clausen, Fashion Director

Self Knowledge by The School of Life

I’m a big fan of The School of Life. This London-based organisation offers books, tools, online workshops and, my favourite of the bunch, an easily digestible YouTube channel to bring calm, reflection and resilience to everyday life. Through the lens of philosophy and psychology, the School of Life is a goldmine of actionable snippets and learnings. My favourite book of all is Self Knowledge. Short, sweet and sharp, it takes you through a series of topics and questions that encourage you to get to know yourself better and acquire tools to lead a happier life. 

Courtney Joe, Creative Director

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A novel that revolves around happiness is not a common find on my bookshelf, however this book is next on my list.  While the plot doesn’t initially lend itself to happiness, it’s been classed by The Guardian as ‘up lit’ — novels which centre around kindness and compassion — a genre that has been on the rise since 2018. Following the themes of love (and lust), mental health, kindness, and community, I’m looking forward to the warm embrace of a late-twenties’ journey in finding the joy that comes with understanding yourself, and life.

Hemma Vara, Digital Producer

The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist's Guide to Ageing Well by Daniel Levitin

Forever fascinated by the human mind and how we can challenge thought to lead better, happier lives, this book is firmly on my to-read list. Levitin invites us to dramatically shift our understanding of growing older, demonstrating its many cognitive benefits and sharing insights from thriving individuals. I often feel as if my life has only just begun, and I’m all for a radical exploration of what it means to age joyously instead of racing against the clock. As they say, knowledge is power.

Bobby Saunders, Art Director

Greenlights - Matthew McConaughey

It’s not often that I read a book about happiness. On this occasion, the book in question is less about happiness itself and more about what it means to me. Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography, Greenlights, is a book that brings back a lot of good memories. After listening to the audiobook version during a 4-week road trip around the South Island, many memories of this trip, like driving through a hail storm in Franz Josef, are now linked to McConaughey’s experiences. Every time I hear McConaughey’s distinct voice, it transports me back to happy memories.

For more book inspiration, check out five books that will boost your career here


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