While we’re huge fans of darker genres — from domestic noir, to all manner of chilling tales — there are times when only a delicious dollop of feel-good fiction will do!

With such a diversity of fabulous feel-good offerings available, we’ve decided to focus this Collection on fiction centred on community unity. We’re talking tales that show neighbourhoods rallying around to defeat outside threats. Stories that see folks coming together through adversity or disaster. 

We’ll kick off with a recent read that actually sparked this Collection. Namely, The Women Who Wouldn’t Leave. When a community in a peaceful village finds their estate under threat from a greedy developer, two chalk-and-cheese women find themselves forming an unlikely friendship that leads to the entire estate bonding to save their homes. Full of heart and humour, this’ll have you waving an imaginary placard alongside the villagers. Connie, one of the main characters, gets to the heart of the appeal of living in a close community when she says: “It must be wonderful, she thought, to feel like your neighbours had your back, to feel that they really knew you, and you them.”

Another community-focused gem comes courtesy of Gemma Reeves’ Victoria Park. A LoveReading Star Book, our Editorial Expert Liz described it as “a complete joy of a debut, bright, observational and incredibly intimate”, “thought-provoking and emotionally intelligent”, with twelve linked stories about people connected to a London park community told over twelve months. We also have a set of reading group questions for this heart-warmer.

Liz also loved Cathy Rentzenbrick’s Everyone is Still Alive, describing it as feeling “like a celebration, a hand held out in support and in love” as it explores the lives of people in a small London community, with the residents finding support from each other through life’s challenges.

Love books about books? You’ll adore The Reading List. In Liz’s words, “if you’re ready to fall in love with a heart-warming and emotionally intelligent novel that highlights the joys of reading, friendship and community, then stop right here."

Jennifer Page's The Little Board Game Cafe a community comes together around Emily, who after losing her job, house and boyfriend all in a matter of days decides to follow her dreams of setting up a small cafe in a small Yorkshire village. It's an "irresistible story about hope, healing and following your heart".

One of my personal favourites on the subject of community is Rachel Joyce’s The Music Shop. At once a gorgeous love story, and an ode to vinyl, this tells the stories of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. I absolutely adored one of its main characters, Frank — one of life’s altruist diamonds, a man who “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”.

I was also recently blown away by Remarkably Bright Creatures, another soul-stirrer that sees unlikely friendships flower and a new common purpose form through a remarkable octopus. Yep, you read that right! An octopus. This novel is nothing but unique, and uniquely moving.  

Meanwhile, Hana Khan Carries On, which we described as delivering “fun and feisty 'You’ve Got Mail' romance with added family drama, female drive, community comradeship and standing up to racists”, sees the residents of Golden Crescent come together for the far greater good.

Special mention must be made of Fredrik Backman’s books. From Beartown, to Britt Marie Was Here (my personal favourite), Backman is the master of beautifully-written, witty heart-warmers that often explore how lonely individuals come to a state of happiness through finding friendships in new communities. 

Fancy a dose of feelgood festive fiction with community themes? Try The Perfect Christmas Gift and YA romance Love in Winter Wonderland

Lastly, I want to give a loud shout-out to a few books that were written for younger readers, but 100% speak to readers of ANY age who love stories with feel-good messages around communities coming together. 

First up, Kelly Yang’s Front Desk series. Following the story of an adorable 10-year-old Chinese immigrant’s irrepressible courage, kindness and determination in the face of enormous obstacles when her family move to America, the sense of community around the motel her family run is simply marvellous. Each novel sees inspiring underdogs come together to make their community — and the world— a far better place. 

Then there’s The Boy Who Grew a Tree. Perfect to share with 5+ year-olds, it’s a beautiful book about the magic of nature, stories and libraries, and (you guessed it!) a community coming together.

See below for more on all the books highlighted here, and to discover yet more novels on the subject of community unity.

In the market for more feel-good fiction? You might want to check out books that highlight empathy and compassion. Or how about some fine novels featuring friendship, or stories centred on the subject of sisterhood? For the ultimate comfort read, these “books that deliver a hug” have your name all over them.