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19 Books That Will Make Your Life A Little More Magical

As recommended by BuzzFeed Book Club members.

Posted on May 1, 2019, at 4:23 p.m. ET

Last month we asked BuzzFeed Book Club members to share their favorite whimsical books, in honor of our April selection, Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. Here are the books that got the most love:

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Anchor

"It's about a magical circus in the 1800s that mysteriously pops up in towns at night. The circus is actually a stage for two rival magicians' protégés to battle each other. The way Morgenstern writes is so magical. She really describes the mystery and beauty of the circus in a way that I've never read before. It's like you're really there in the midst of the magic, like a movie but even better because it's inside your head. I was in a daze for weeks afterward, just searching for something similarly written. I have no words to describe how amazing it is and how much I loved it. I just really recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet." —Rebecca Keller

2. The Doll People series by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin

Scholastic

"The Doll People series by Ann M. Martin was incredibly whimsical to me when I was younger. There's nothing more playful than dolls and their secret lives!" —Natasha Alvarez

3. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Tor Books

"It's a crazy story [about an ancient witch coven warring with a San Francisco tech startup to save the world]. I love it because of how fun it is, the slow love story, and the excellent writing." —Susana Gonzalez

4. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Random House

"I love it because it reads like a whimsical dream and it’s about everyone falling asleep. The plot sounds like it could happen tomorrow, or it's something that had really happened — just ever so slightly off from the actual world we live in. I love how the characters develop in the novel as well." —Courtney Rogin

5. The Magnolia League series by Katie Crouch

Poppy

"Some might not see these books as whimsical, but I did. It takes place in the South and discusses the mysterious things that happen with some Southern belles — including the fact that they do not age. Definitely give these a read!!" —Natasha Simmons

6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Wednesday Books

"For me, whimsy isn't just in subject matter but also the form the author takes to tell the story, how we meet the narrator, and how they interact with other characters. For instance, I love a diary or journal, which is the form of one of my all-time favorite books: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The protagonist and narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, is 17 when we first meet her, [and she has] been given a diary to write her thoughts in. She looks to her family, home life, and English village for inspiration and subject matter. As she introduces us to her life, we also learn who she is and what she yearns for — even as she struggles to identify it. She grows up, sometimes painfully, throughout the book and learns perspective and maturity even as we cringe at her misadventures, just as she does in remembering.

"Every time I read the book, I relate to her differently. The first time, I was close in age and similarly frustrated with my life. Later, as I worked out my choices and made some mistakes, I wished I could spare Cassandra some of her heartache, but in the end she has to make her own choice. The characters are flawed and complex and real in a way I love and miss in many other novels. This is a book I would recommend to anyone at any age." —Michelle LaCrosse

7. Spectacle: Book One by Megan Rose Gedris

Oni Press

"It's about a fortune teller with a circus whose sister — the circus's knife thrower — is murdered and comes back as a ghost who is attached to the fortune teller. There's magic and sisterly humor, and everything is a little creepy but super fun." —Liz Abram-Oldham

8. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Picador

"I loved the little bit of mystery in this story [about a man who discovers the bookstore he works at is hiding secrets in its old volumes], and how the characters had to go on a quest." —Elizabeth Dang

9. Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Balzer + Bray

"A great whimsical book is Damsel! It’s about an oppressed woman who in the end finds herself and triumphs. There are dragons and all those good things!!" —Alexandria Merrell

10. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Hachette

"I loved The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. I adore [the main character] Allan Karlsson, who ditches his own 100th birthday party to find a more unique adventure — one he himself had no idea he was in for." —S. Peters

11. Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

Sourcebooks Landmark

"Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite books — and I love everything she writes. A young British actress, Celia, is hired to perform her first leading role in a play, written by a long-deceased playwright, at a beautiful, old Italian villa. I was instantly transported to both the Italy of the present and past, indulging in Celia's potential relationship with her handsome, mysterious employer while also unraveling the mystery behind the man that wrote the play, and the woman he loved years and years ago. Kearsley's books are almost Shakespearean to me — seamlessly weaving together comedy and tragedy, past and present, and historical facts with her brilliant imagination. There's also a ghost desperate for her truth to be told, just to keep us all on our toes." —Holly Curran

12. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Penguin Books

"I love the book 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. The relationship the two main characters develop through letters is so lovely. They have this shared passion for 'weird' books that they both understand and connect with. I remember reading it in high school and wanting to find my literary soulmate. This book definitely had me daydreaming a lot!" —Katelyn Gray

13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Vintage

"I love it because it’s told from the perspective of a child trying to solve a self-imagined mystery, and the author takes you on an adventure based on the boy's curiosity. It’s very imaginative." —Amy

14. The Uncanny Valley: Tales From a Lost Town by Gregory Miller

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

"The most whimsical book I’ve read recently — and that I can think of — is absolutely The Uncanny Valley: Tales From a Lost Town by Gregory Miller. The short book transports you to a completely kooky (sometimes even creepy) town that may or may not actually exist, and for the few short hours you’re reading it, you absolutely forget about everything else. I mean, c’mon — who doesn’t love a good ghost dog story?" —Briggitte Suastegui

15. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Penguin Books

"I love books about other books, and this one is full of literary puns, allusions, etc., regarding Jane Eyre. A literary detective is such fun and original!!" —Candace Primack

16. The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken

Dial Press Trade Paperback

"One of my favorite whimsical books is actually another Elizabeth McCracken novel: The Giant's House. It's about the romance between a shy, small-town librarian and the town's ever-growing giant. It's sweet and smart, and so well written." —Lauren Sweany

17. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Penguin Books

"I love Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine because the story is HILARIOUS, but it also emphasizes the idea of self-care and showing your authentic self." —Hayley Starshak

18. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

William Morrow

"I’m about to reread Good Omens to get ready for the Amazon Prime show that’s coming out soon. Who doesn’t love a book about the end of the world? It’s actually funny; I promise." —Susan Bowie

19. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Random House

"For me, The Phantom Tollbooth is my favorite whimsical book. I know that it is meant for children, but it is one of those books that transcends age and is both entertaining and relevant to all. For the young, it is a lesson on life. For adults, it is a reminder of all that is most important. Through whimsy, the most serious lessons are learned." —Annmarie Puleio

Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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