- The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe - This is one of the more ridiculous books I've ever read and also one of the most upbeat. The daring Pirate Captain and his crew join up with Charles Darwin to encourage scientific progress in London - and also to attend a very important pirate convention. It's a delightful book that will keep you giggling the whole time you're reading. Plus, it's a pretty quick read, so you'll be through it in no time.
- Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - I was shocked at how much I loved this book and how happy it made me. This whimsical story about cursed Sophie and her adventures with the wizard Howl is so much fun and so sweet and wonderful - and so much lighter than the film.
- Remembering Isaac: The Wise and Joyful Potter of Niederbipp by Ben Behunin - This sweet, quiet, and slow-paced book about a young potter taking the place of the quiet (and somewhat therapeutic) town potter who just passed away is a happy and overwhelmingly upbeat (though quietly so) read. If you want to smile a little through your happy tears, this is the book for you. (Heads up - this also my grandmother's favorite book, so it's a great gift idea for grandparents!)
- Giant Days: Volume 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar - I've really enjoyed this graphic novel about three best friends starting off at college. While there are some sad parts, it's an overwhelmingly positive story about people learning to be adults. Plus, it's just a lot of fun. This book would make a great gift for your high school senior relative.
What books do you think of as "optimistic"? What makes a book optimistic in your mind? Have you read any of the books on this list?