Every few years, there's a book that starts a publishing craze. In the YA realm, The Hunger Games kicked off a near decade-long run of dystopias. After Fifty Shades of Grey came out, many other romance novels suddenly featured suggestive objects on their grayscale covers. Until now, dark and twisted thrillers of in the vein of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl have dominated the bestseller charts, like Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
But the reign of the suspense thriller may be over. In this demanding political era, readers are seeking something different from their fiction: To be soothed rather than titillated, to be uplifted rather than hang from the edge of their seat. And there's a whole new batch of books to satisfy these readers.
This burgeoning genre is called "Up Lit," which stands for uplifting literature. Per a 2017 article in The Guardian, publishers say the trend started in response to the current climate leading for a desire to read about "everyday heroism, human connection, and love." People can't get enough of it. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, essentially the poster child of Up Lit, was named Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and also won a number of people's choice awards, but it's hardly the first addition to the genre. Generally, Up Lit books track quirky, offbeat protagonists on their journeys to creating a fulfilling web of relationships. The books keep any possibility of saccharine sentimentality in check by offering up healthy doses of melancholy, too.
Likely, Up Lit's popularity stems from the same forces that led to the rise of the literary rom-com. These books are escapes into the goodness people know is possible — even if it's not readily apparent on the news or in the outside world. Given Oliphant's success (and forthcoming movie adaptation), this is just the start of a trend. Here are the books to read when you need the literary equivalent of a cozy fireplace, warming up your cold, jaded heart.