The house is decorated, the fridge is packed with groceries, and friends and family are on the way. Now all that's left to do is kick back and enjoy the holidays. What's the best way to do that? With books, of course.

And helpfully TED is just out with a well timed selection of books that will help you get in that happy, inspired holiday spirit. Their massive list of feel-good books recommended by past speakers covers everything from sci-fi and cooking to business and biography. I've filtered out some of the more niche picks (though check the complete list of 78 if you're after poetry, children's books, or other off-the-beaten path options) for a list of books that are sure to make most everyone smile.

  1. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. This is the "inspiring true story of the University of Washington crew team which ended up, against all odds, competing in the 1936 Olympic Games. In this book, the facts are as fun as fiction," promises information security researcher Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad.
  2. We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen. "This novel is so immersive you don't want it ever to end. A vivid historical epic spanning four generations, it's told from the point of view of a whole town -- a small Danish sailing community tackling the challenges of emergent globalization and war," offers Danish MP Ozlem Sara Cekic.
  3. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. "This comical true tale of Bryson's misadventures as he hikes the Appalachian Trail left me with a stomach ache from laughing out loud," remembers pediatrician Lucy Martil. "It also inspired me to take on new adventures -- no matter how ill prepared I might be!"
  4. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. "This nonfiction book made me laugh hard," reports human rights lawyer Simone George. "It's a classic, really, and a great gateway drug for anyone who thinks that diving into the incredible canon of feminist writing might not be for them."
  5. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. "If you want to learn about the history of the digital revolution, this book is for you," claims educator Lina Marieth Hoyos.
  6. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark. "Ma's likable and easy-going personality makes the book very inspiring and fun to read, while also providing interesting insights as to how he managed to establish one of the highest-valued companies in China and the world," says AI entrepreneur Pierre Barreau.
  7. Becoming by Michelle Obama. "In this memoir, First Lady Michelle Obama is elegant and unapologetic about living your truth, being of great public service, dreaming big, and never giving up," according to journalist Darieth Chisholm.
  8. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee. This one "talks about how we can make the world a much better place if we'd only build environments which make us smile and bring joy to our lives, instead of the usual, mundane gray spaces that so many of us are forced to live and work in," explains engineer Ian Firth.
  9. The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz. "A collection of deeply moving stories of self-discovery by psychoanalyst Grosz. His writing about therapy has been described as 'like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks,'" claims reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sachs.
  10. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. "I found this book about the life of Louis Zamperini to be incredibly uplifting and almost impossible to put down," reports addiction treatment specialist Ben Cort.
  11. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands. "It may seem strange to pick a three-volume collection of physics lectures and try and sell it as feel-good reading, but as I can confirm, you can return to these famous 'red books' time and again and, each time, find insight, ingenuity and inspiration," says scientist Stephen Webb.
  12. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake by Steven Novella. "This is the ultimate guide to critical thinking," according to astrophysicist Matt Russo.
  13. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. "The earth, this place we call our home, is just a tiny spot in the vastness of space, and the book shows us that the small 'pale blue dot' where we live is a small dot full of life and love," says educator Lina Marieth Hoyos.
  14. Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith. Artist tobacco brown describes this one as "a collection of intriguing essays that speak about modern-day, socio-political, newsworthy topics, including the movie Get Out and pop icon Justin Bieber."
  15. From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. "In this classic 1865 novel, there's everything you'd ever need to be inspired: curiosity towards the unknown, challenge, impossible travels, faith in scientific knowledge, and unshakable courage," insists educator Fabio Pacucci.
  16. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by the Dalai Lama. "We all want to be happy, but so few of us know how or even what the word really means. In this profound book, the Tibetan leader shares practical suggestions on how to do the inner self-work necessary for cultivating it and also the exceptional wisdom that we can only find true happiness when that work is dedicated to the benefit of other beings," explains humanitarian aid entrepreneur Rola Hallam.
  17. That's What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women by Kimothy Joy. According to reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sachs this illustrated book offers "a collection of colorful drawings and razor-sharp quotes from some of history's most inspiring female leaders, including Maya Angelou and Malala Yousafzai."
  18. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. "Based on 12 years of research, [this book] explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief and disappointment and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation and creativity," notes management professor Christine Porath.
  19. How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations by Marc Freedman. "Freedman is one of the wisest thought leaders in the aging and longevity world. With this book, he's crafted a masterpiece," says entrepreneur Chip Conley. "He delivers a soulful rallying cry for intergenerational collaboration like we've never seen before. I finished it brimming with optimism about our future."
  20. Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made by Gaia Vince. "It might seem strange to include a nonfiction book about climate change in a list of feel-good books, but in it, Vince tells how she quit her job as a journalist to travel the world and find people who are having to adapt to our changing world. What she uncovers is an uplifting story of the ingenuity of humans. You will come away inspired," promises physicist Suzie Sheehy.
Published on: Dec 24, 2018