“Uplit” Recommendations and #AVicarageChristmas [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

December 17, 2021

Do you have “Uplit” on your bookshelves?

UpLit What's On Your Bookshelf (white text in a blue text box against a background of reddish pink balloons against a blue sky

Today for the #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Uplit.” If this term is new to you, here’s a definition I found online:

‘Up Lit’ is the new literary buzz word, described as a trend for books with an emphasis on empathy, books that are uplifting and life-affirming, and which explore themes of family bonds and the human spirit. These types of novels focus on kinder, gentler human connections, but have an element that preserves realism.

Although I regularly and intentionally seek out “feel good” books with some substance (more in 2020 and 2021 than ever before!), I first became aware of “Uplit” as an official term and subgenre in this blog post by Lynne @ Fictionophile.

Uplit adds balance to my reading life.

Perhaps this is why I adore Middle Grade literature that often has strong themes of family, friendship, and hope.

However, “uplit” is not exclusively fluffy and light. The stories can include substantial themes but kindness, gentleness, empathy, and hope always shine through the darkness.

***Note of Caution: as with most subgenres, there can be a difference of opinion in the books that are included….the following list is not an “official” list and simply represents my personal opinions.

From my reading, here are a few of my favorite “uplit” titles (in no particular order):

Although those who curate lists often cite Eleanor Oliphant as their prime example of “Uplit,” I don’t know if I fully agree. Although there is kindness, quirkiness, and a ray of hope, the story is filled with trauma and has an unreliable narrator. The story is devastating. What do you think? Uplit or not?

For today’s review, I’m highlighting my most recent “uplit” find from The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Series (Book 1)

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

My Summary:

A family tragedy that happened years ago has caused Anna, the third of four sisters, to suffer from shyness and some social anxiety. She works and lives in Manchester and for the first time in years she comes home for Christmas because her parents have a big announcement. Coming home is difficult for her yet she adores her family. One night to escape her busy and complicated family and bossy sister, she goes alone to a pub where she meets a handsome and kind stranger. Simon is easy to talk to and she ends up spilling her family secrets. She’s mortified to later learn that Simon is connected with her father at his Parish. Can Simon and Anna salvage their new relationship, negotiate family complications, and create a magical Christmas?

My Thoughts:

I first came across this series in a post by Lisa @ Hopewell’s Public Library of Life Blog just at the time I was comtemplating light Christmas reads for December and rounding out my novella reads for Novellas in November. At 182 pages, this is a quick light read for your busy December days! Thanks for the rec Lisa!

Setting: Who can resist a quaint village in England’s Lake District?

Characters: A Vicarage Christmas is a poignant story of a lovely family comprised of four adult daughters with four unique personalities, a wise and kind father who is also the Vicar of the village parish, and a compassionate and understanding mother who holds the family together and is a gracious hostess. Then, there’s Simon who would like a future with Anna, and I can’t forget about the beloved family dog.

Themes: Lovely themes in A Vicarage Christmas include family dynamics, sibling loyalty, taking risks, grief and childhood trauma, reconciling with the past, community, and parents who do the unexpected.

Lots to Love! I enjoyed this “uplit” story of family, community, and finding love. After reading this novella, I am eager to continue with the series. I’m now on book three, but I think I’m loving book one the most! It was a perfect December read and introduction to the series.

Content Consideration: one trigger warning for memories of the death of a child (sibling)

Recommended: A Vicarage Christmas is an excellent example of “uplit” in my opinion! I’m enthusiastically recommending this heartfelt story for fans of “uplit,” for readers who love gently told stories with themes of family, faith, and finding love, and for those looking for a novella or quick vacation/weekend read.

My Rating: 4 Stars (3.5 rounded up)

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A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

A Vicarage Christmas Information Here

Meet the Author, Kate Hewitt

Author Kate HewittKate Hewitt is the bestselling author of many novels of both historical and contemporary fiction. She particularly enjoys writing contemporary issue-driven women’s fiction, and her novels have been called ‘unputdownable’ and ‘the most emotional book I have ever read’ by readers.

An American ex-pat, she lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five young(ish) children, along with their two Golden Retrievers. Join her newsletter for monthly updates and giveaways at http://www.kate-hewitt.com, or be part of her Facebook groups Kate’s Reads, to discuss all manner of books, movies, music and cooking.

 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the December installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge


Have you read A Vicarage Christmas or is it on your TBR?

Do you read “uplit”?

What is your number one “uplit” recommendation?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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  1. Great post Carol. I have read about half of the books on your list and enjoyed them all. I can’t comment on Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as I have not read it yet, but it is on my TBR. I thought I had read Christmas at the Vicarage, but it must have been a book with the same title as I haven’t read this one. I am going to add the series to my TBR as I do enjoy novellas during December. Of course the themes are perfect for this time of year.

    • Eleanor makes a really good friend which is the uplifting part….but she is also a survivor of childhood trauma and experiences some mental illness as a result……so although there’s a glimmer of hope for her at the end, it’s not as hope filled as a typical uplit. Her character development is brilliantly written though! Thanks for All the Lonely People rec!

  2. I think that most of the Christmas books that I have read probably qualify as Uplift. My favourites so far are The Christmas Escape by Jo Morgan and !2 days to save Christmas by Elizabeth Neep.

  3. YES to books abaout kindness, gentleness, empathy, and hope. That’s exactly what I want to read in a book (or see in a movie) especially at this time of year. I too would exclude Eleanor Oliphant from this list. That was not an uplfting read for me either.
    Thank you so much for joining us at What’s On Your Bookself. We greatly appreciate it.

  4. I haven’t heard of the term “uplit” before. I checked the list of books I read this year — not a single one qualifies as uplit. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan has been on my TBR for ages. It goes to the must be read inQ1 2022 list.

  5. I’m so glad there’s a name for it now! I’ve read a few on your list – my fave I think was the Chilbury Ladies Choir. I have Kitchen Front ready to begin in January (I only read Christmas themed novels in December…sad but true). A Vicarage Christmas sounds right up my alley. Thanks for linking up!

    • I think you’ll love Kitchen Front! It’s a book that gets better and better as you read (my experience!). Thanks for commenting!

  6. I think I probably thought uplit reflected big “L” literature like classics. I completely understand the need to read novels that have characters showing empathy and some of my favourites this year (Happy Hour, The Other Side of Beautiful and Love Objects) definitely were ‘feel good’ though not necessarily without some trauma.

  7. Hi Carol, I have read quite a few of those books and enjoyed learning they’re classed as Uplit. I heard a podcast once refer to these types of books as hopepunk with the opposite called grimdark (I wrote this post at the time https://wp.me/p2juKh-b1H). I agree with you I’m not sure Eleanor classifies as Uplit either.
    Thanks for joining us for this monthly challenge!

    • Oh I’ve never heard of hopepunk but I’m here for it! There are readers on bookstagram who read nothing but grimdark and I wonder how they can handle a steady diet of serial killers, violence in all forms, and despicable characters! I really don’t enjoy bleak reads. Give me kindness, empathy, and hope! Thanks for the new terms of hopepunk and grimdark Debbie!

  8. Nice post Carol. I have to say I hadn’t heard of the term uplit but it’s a great term, I love it.
    I did enjoy Eleanor Oliphant and didn’t want it to end.
    Have you read anything by Clare Chambers. I think you would enjoy her books. In a Good Light is a wonderful example of Uplit.

  9. I would consider The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door as Uplit. Both are on my top 5 for 2021.

    I would also venture that a lot of the fantasy I read would fit your definition. The Raven and the Rush, which I just finished, deals with some major issues, takes the MCs on life-changing journies, and gives hope that change can come from unlikely places.

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