Friday, January 11, 2019

Discussion: I "Up-Lit", Do You "Up-Lit"?


I don't think it's a secret, that I enjoy a feel good book. I often rave about how happy a book made me or how big a smile I was wearing at the end. Then, I read this article, and found out that there is a new trend called "Up-Lit", which sounds like it was tailor made for me.

The signature of these trends are:
  • Producing tears due to the reader being happy, not sad
  • Tapping into the reader's empathy and optimism
  • Stories about everyday people dealing with everyday problems
  • A main character, who becomes part of a community, while seeking connection and fulfillment
The two articles I read both noted Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine as one of the biggest up-lit successes. This is where I confess to you, that I started this book, twice, and DNFed it, twice. I kept finding myself quite sad as I read it, but now I guess, that was the point. I was supposed to feel Eleanor's loneliness and sadness, and maybe if I stuck with the book, I would have been able to celebrate the connections she made, as well as her personal fulfillment. (I am asking those of you, who read the book to confirm this for me.)


Another author, who made the list was Fredrik Backman. His books, A Man Called Ova and Britt-Marie Was Here, both made the list, and I can confirm, that Britt-Marie definitely qualifies as up-lit. My heart went out to Britt-Marie, and I was cheering her on as she came into her own, and became part of that community. And, gosh darn it, I did feel quite buoyant at the end of the book. 


With this being a made-for-me subgenera, I want you to share books, which you think qualify as up-lit. 

Now it's your turn!

What's your favorite "up-lit" book? 
Let us know in the comments!

44 comments:

  1. This one's new to me but a couple of books come to mind as possible up- lits? I'm probably way off, but Eight Hundred Grapes comes to mind, and maybe even The Shark Club. It made me smile/ feel good about life at the end. I guess it's subjective to a point, naturally. Fascinating subject though!

    Your thoughts on Eleanor Oliphant immediately put me in mind of Disney movies too, which might seem odd, but as much as I love them I often feel emotionally manipulated haha- like how BAD can things get before we get the happy ending and vindication at the end, right? Although that's true of a lot of movies besides Disney, I know... but I often think that when I'm watching all the terrible conflict things. :)

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    1. I was looking at 800 Grapes. Sounds very promising, and I love a book that leaves a smile on my face. "Emotionally manipulated" is phrase that always makes me giggle, because I have seen it used so many times in John Green reviews, but you know, I sign on the manipulation, so then, is it really manipulation?

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  2. I don't really read that kind of book. I mostly read horror, apocalypse, urban fantasy and things that are fast paced with conflict and doom!

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    1. I think your TBR would destroy me. I am all about the happy and fluffy.

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  3. Most of the “happy” books I’ve come across are romancey, so I’m not hugely interested in them, but I LOVE Fredirk Backman’s books. I’ve read 3 of them and thought they were all sweet and hilarious. I need to find more authors like him.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I really enjoyed the Backman books I read, and look forward to reading more of them.

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  4. You seem to dwell at the two ends of the spectrum... this up-lit and then your grief books. :) Up-lit is certainly a new term to me (I learned something today!). I'm not sure it's something I'm particularly drawn to, though. I tend to prefer some angst (but only in my books).

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    1. You know, I'm just an extreme person (not!). I have a tolerance level for angst, but it gets old for me if the author does not use it properly.

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  5. I learned a new word!!! I'd love to see a list of YA books that qualify as "Up-Lit"-- but I really like reading books about loneliness and overcoming those feelings. Fangirl was one of those-- and this book I read a long time ago called Uses for Boys.

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    1. The one article I read stated that there is usually no romance, which would disqualify a lot of the books I read, though, they left me uplifted. Fangirl seems like up-lit to me. Definitely a feel good book

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  6. Oh man, not more book stuff to keep up with. I have enough trouble with all the genres out there. lol I love feely books...means the writer got to me and that's a good thing.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. This was an article I saved, because this is the exact sort of book I love to read. When I think of books I adored, it isn't normally the plot that stays with me, but rather the characters and the way the book made me feel. I am right there with you.

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  7. Oooh ok here I go: Win Some Lose Some by Shay savage, The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson ? Sophie @bewareofthereader

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    1. I just checked out Win Some (love the cover!), and the story sounds really wonderful. *clicks to-be-read*

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  8. I'd never heard the term but I love books that makes me laugh & leave me in a great mood after. Not even necessarily up-lit - which sounds like you may be sad before the HEA??? More like Jenn Bennet's books.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Jenn Bennett's books are my favorite kind. I am more of a balance person. I don't like to be dragged too far down before I am lifted up, because I can get stuck there.

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  9. Eleanor Oliphant was my favorite read of 2018. I mean, if you've already tried 2 times it might not be for you, but Eleanor's life does get better!

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    1. I was actually crying and going into my dark hole when I was reading it, but it sounds like if I push through, it may be worth it. I think I just identified with Eleanor too much and it was scary.

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  10. If a book makes me really sad and I don't see a quick end in sight, I have a hard time sticking with it. When I use my free time for entertainment I want to feel good. I can watch the news if I want to be depressed. I got a library copy of Eleanor Oliphant but I've been hesitant to pick it up after reading some reviews. I think What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton my be an Up-Lit and I loved it.

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    1. You took the words right out of my mouth. Seriously, I have uttered the same line about the news almost word for word. You know I am known for my love of fluff, so I also need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What Happens Next sounds great. My library has it. Am placing a hold.

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  11. Ooh, this is hard! Maybe The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper? Or maybe Something Like Happy? A bit of a sad story, but it still had some humor and joy.

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    1. I have seen Arthur Pepper shelved as Up-Lit, so other people agree with you. That's another one I had my eye on. I can do some sad, if the humor and joy are present enough to balance it out. I just felt like I was waiting too long for that to happen in Eleanor Oliphant

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  12. I mean, I am obsessed with a show about a thrice-post-apocalyptic hellscape, and a book/movie series about literally killing children in an arena so.... I mean, I probably have not read many? 😂 Though if my actual LIFE could become up-lit, then I will gladly read it! What about something like I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios? That elicited tears but ended on an uplifting note.

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    1. Yep, you lean to the polar opposite of me, but if it makes you happy....You KNOW I plan to read I'll Meet You There. I just need to get through my Jan/Feb ARCs and then I am pretty much free (or so I think). That one comes up as a fave quite a bit, and now that I finally have the book, I can see what everyone is always talking about. And yes, I hope both our lives become up-lit.

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  13. I didn't know this sub-genre was a thing until right now! It's definitely interesting. I usually go for PNR and UF. I will sometimes pick up a rom-com or a dark-ish contemporary along the way. I don't think most of the stories I read could be described as up-lit. I don't go into stories looking for happy tears or optimism (which after having said that sounds really darn sad! LOL) :)

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    1. I didn't know it was a thing until I saw the article, but I agree with you that most UF and PNR books don't fall into this category, though they can still have happy endings.

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  14. Ahh I love feel-good books, too, I'm all about them - well, I do enjoy reading dystopian books, fantasies and science-fiction every now and then but, ultimately and always, I'll be all about the fluffy books that make me happy 💖 Morgan Matson's contemporaries always make me happy for instance :D
    Lovely post! :D

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    1. I would agree. Even the Matson book that left me a snotty mess, Second Chance Summer, left me feeling warm and happy.

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  15. I like this term and quite enjoy uplifting, light and fluffy, books when the mood strikes but I can't think of anything that I'd class specifically as up-lit.
    All future up-lifting reads will be henceforth classed as 'up-lit' though, their primary genre be damned!

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    1. I was really into the term too. It pretty much describes how I like all my entertainment, which is a far cry from the teen, who listened to The Smiths 24/7.

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  16. I enjoy books that make me cry happy or hopeful tears. My brain is drawing a blank on titles right now though. I'll now be watching to see what books are Up-Lit for me.

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    1. Happy/hopeful tears are the best kinds! I don't mind shedding some of those sad tears as long as in the end, they are the happy kind.

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  17. Interesting topic. Up-lit is a new term for me as well and I like it, lol. The Backman books definitely seem to fit the category. I haven't tried Eleanor Oliphant yet, although I plan to read it this year so we'll see.

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    1. I love the way Backman's books sneak up on you. I remember when Britt-Marie's full story was revealed, the tears began to trickle, but by the end, I was cheering. That's a great kind of book. Me + Up-lit = perfection

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  18. I am not familiar yet with up-lit. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned as well. Completely new to me! Whadyaknow, I learned something today! Tho, I have seen Eleanor Oliphant around, I don't know what it's about. I noticed how these books' titles are name-centric: Ove, Eleanor Oliphant, Britt-Marie, etc. :)

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    1. Now that I am remembering other examples from the articles I read, I think they all had people's names in the title too, Hmmm, look at that!

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  19. I had never heard of 'up-lit' before so I guess that's a thing now? I've also not read any of the books the article says fits the category. I mean, I guess I want a book to make me feel happy, but honestly, I just look for a feel good contemporary for that or turn to an author I know always gives me the happy feels. I can't say I can even think of a book to fit this sub-genre. I feel like I need to go hunting for one now.

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    1. The biggest difference I ascertained from the articles is that I have to get really sad from the characters circumstances, before the upswing comes. I would say most of the books I read have HEAs, but this seems to distinguish up-lit from other offerings.

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  20. I like the idea of up-lit, though I have to admit that so many of my favorite books are the sadder, more realistic ones that deal with tough issues. Not that up-lit can't be realistic, but you get what I mean! LOL

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. The less realistic the better for me. I am all about the escape.

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  21. I do Up-lit! I connect to all of those things except crying happy tears, because I don't cry when I read. But I love the idea of that! Ooh, I am going to be reading Eleanor Oliphant next month and I hope I like it...

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    1. I am a crier. Happy or sad -- there will be tears. I seem to be the only person, who cannot get through Eleanor. I think maybe it hit too close to home for me. I hope you like it.

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  22. I’ve read a number of Backman’s books. His characters struggle, but once they change POV, and engage with the community, up-lit for sure. I just finished The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl and found it funny and just feel good. Great discussion Sam! ❤️❤️

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    1. His books have such a quiet beauty to them, and after meeting him, I could totally see him writing these books. I loved Lightning Girl so much! Great characters. Great story. I am a fan.

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