Brighten Up Your Day: Non-fiction to Offer Some Comfort and Cheer

Joan Anderson
"During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod. At first casting about for direction, Joan soon began to take plea-sure in her surroundings and call on resources she didn't realize she had. Over the course of a year, she gradually discovered that her life as an 'unfinished woman' was full of possibilities."
James Herriot

An English veterinarian reminisces about his life, career, and animal patients in a small village.

Robert Fulghum
Robert Fulghum takes life down to its basics in terms of getting along with each other. His philosophy is common-sense, often humorous, and heartwarming.
Norman Cousins
"...illustrates the concept at the heart of the holistic health principle: that the human mind is capable of promoting the body's potential for healing itself even when faced with a seemingly hopeless medical predicament. Recounting his personal experiences of working in close collaboration with his doctor to overcome a crippling and supposedly irreversible disease, Cousins outlines the life-saving and ultimately life-prolonging benefits to be gained by taking responsibility for one's own well-being. 'I have learned,' the author writes, 'never to underestimate the capacity of the human mind and body to regenerate -- even when the prospects seem most wretched.' This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is inspirational reading for anyone contending with a serious illness."
Sloane Tanen

A mostly-picture book about tiny little (toy) chickens and their attitudes, fantasies, and thoughts on life. Clever, funny, touching and even laugh-out-loud-able. A fun, quick bit of entertainment.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"In this inimitable, beloved classic--graceful, lucid and lyrical--Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh's musings on the shape of a woman's life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership."

Also available in large print and on audio.

Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany

"Warm, feisty, and intelligent, the Delany sisters speak their mind in a book that is at once a vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over 100 years of living side by side. Their sharp memories show readers the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a school teacher."

Neenah Ellis, editor
A series of interviews with 19 people who talked about their 100+ years of life. Some are funny, many are inspirational, and all are fascinating.
Will Randall

"Who hasn't fantasized about dismantling his or her hassled, wired-up life for a simpler existence? Yet who among us has the will and opportunity to do it? The answer, of course, is very few. Will Randall, a young English schoolmaster, had such a chance -- and took it. He uprooted his conventional First World life and let himself be blown to one of the farthest and most beautiful corners of the earth, the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. In the entertaining tradition of Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, this is the story of Solomon Time.

"From the first, it's an improbable journey. In a chance encounter on a rugby field, Randall meets a doddering old man known as 'the Commander,'  who has retired to England after running a cocoa plantation in the South Pacific for thirty years. Six months later, the Commander dies and his will is read: he wants someone to travel to his beloved, long-missed island -- where his plantation has fallen into ruin -- and devise a way for the natives to support themselves. If successful, they might avoid poverty, build a new school, and even fend off the greedy developers circling their peaceful waters. It's a mission of noblesse oblige, yet possibly a fool's errand, too. Randall agrees to go. ... a moving and witty account of one man's accidental adventure in paradise ... ."

Philip Gonzalez
"Philip Gonzalez had lost all interest in living after an industrial accident left him disabled. A friend suggested he adopt a dog.Reluctantly he went to the shelter, where Ginny, a badly abused one-year-old pup,quickly won him over. Philip realized immediately that Ginny was no ordinary dog--she had an amazing sixth sense that enabled her to find and rescue stray and ailing cats.There's Madame, who is completely deaf; Revlon, who has only one eye; Betty Boop,who has no hind feet;and Topsy, a paralyzed kitten whom Ginny found abandoned in an empty building. Ginny and Philip have now rescued and found homes for over 200 cats, and they have over 60 'outdoor cats' whom they visit and feed twice daily. Even more than extraordinary, Ginny's angelic mission has given Philip a sense of purpose and a new lease on life. You will never forget the true adventures of Ginny, the dog who rescues cats."
Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
A gentle book of very special and endearing essays on sometimes difficult subjects by a female Episcopal minister.
Mitch Albom

"Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final 'class:' lessons in how to live."

Also available in large print and on audio.

Harold S. Kushner

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said this book "Offers a moving and humane approach to understanding life's windstorms..." Rabbi Kushner's book, still very popular more than 20 years after it was firt published, tells of his turmoil as he tried to understand the loss of his son.  Also available in large print.