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Sometimes It’s Okay to Be a Scrooge: My Favorite Grump Lit

by  | December 11

You don’t have to be Ebenezer Scrooge himself to not be a people person, or to become frustrated by constant cheer, especially around the holidays. Everyone’s all a little grumpy sometimes, and some more so than others. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a kind heart and good intentions. Indeed, some of my favorite characters are famously grumpy, and I actually love that about them, because unlike most of us, they don’t feel the need to put on a happy face when they’re just not feelin’ it. They’re purely themselves, take them or leave them. Still, beneath the gruff exterior, you’ll often find a heart of gold, which is what makes these characters—and the books they’re in—worthy of Keeper Shelf status. Here are a few of my favorite books with characters whose bark is worse than their bite.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Curmudgeon. Cranky old man. “The bitter neighbor from hell.” Ove’s developed quite a reputation around town over the years, but exactly how much of it is deserved? Sure, he likes his routines and sticking to them, and maybe he does get a little cranky with people from time to time, but not wanting to smile every minute of the day isn’t a crime. When a young family of four moves in next door to him and starts to shake things up, unexpected friendships blossom and the local residents begin to see Ove in a whole new light. Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, far from being a downer, is an exceptionally charming novel that will remind you that there’s more to every person than what first meets the eye.

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When Beauty Tamed the Beast

When Beauty Tamed the Beast

by Eloisa James

Inspired by both the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and the notoriously misanthropic Dr. Gregory House in the TV series House M.D., Eloisa James introduces the ultimate grumpy hero in her beloved historical romance When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, has become more of a legend than a flesh and blood man to most people, who accept as truth the gossip that the nobleman living in a castle in Wales is a recluse with a beastly temper, who no one dares cross. In reality, he is a brilliant physician and a war veteran suffering from chronic pain due to an old injury, which Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne comes to understand soon after meeting the man—her fiancé. She’s determined to make the most of their arranged match for the sake of her family, but she doesn’t expect to fall in love with Piers for real, rough edges and all.…

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Mr. Flood's Last Resort

Mr. Flood's Last Resort

by Jess Kidd

What’s a Gothic mansion full of secrets without a cantankerous resident, I ask? They go hand in hand, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In Jess Kidd’s Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, Mr. Cathal Flood lives by himself—for now. His son is threatening to relocate him to an assisted living facility, and from the outside, you can understand why, since Mr. Flood’s a hoarder and his house is overrun with feral cats. That’s where Maud Drennan comes in. A caretaker whose job helps her cope with a tragedy from her childhood that still haunts her to this day, Maud is exactly what Mr. Flood needs, even if he doesn’t know it at first. As the two work together to clean up the house with the goal of proving that Mr. Flood doesn’t need to be moved, they also discover a mutual passion for Irish folktales and become genuine friends. At the end, you might just wonder who saves whom.

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Kulti

Kulti

by Mariana Zapata

As a kid dreaming of becoming an internationally known soccer superstar, Sal Casillas idolized her favorite player, Reiner Kulti. She had his poster on her wall and even wrote him fan mail. That was a long time ago, though, and at 27 years old, Sal is doing just fine for herself as a professional soccer player on a women’s team in Houston. Of course, that doesn’t stop her from mentally freaking out when she learns Kulti will be her team’s new assistant coach. It’s too bad that the real-life version of her childhood hero is cold, overbearing, devoid of the intense drive he’s famous for and, worse, seemingly too good for his new job. Sal’s disappointed and infuriated by him—until she realizes she may have gotten him completely wrong…. Kulti is a book I recommend whenever given the chance, because once you understand what makes Kulti tick, you can’t help but love him completely, much like Sal comes to do.

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Photo Credit // Matthew Henry on Unsplash

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Heather Waters is the senior manager of content verticals at Simon & Schuster, where she runs the Tips on Life & Love blog. She enjoys reading everything from romance to true crime to political memoirs, and in her free time you can often find her binge-watching Netflix, refreshing Twitter every 10 seconds, and listening to the latest episode of the podcast My Favorite Murder.