Have you read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? It came out a few years ago, but I only just finished reading it for the first time. Anne Bogel in her podcast, What Should I Read Next, recommended the book to one of her guests and assured her audience that despite the video game plot anyone can enjoy this novel. That same week my bf suggested I check out the book too. It's pretty rare that I hear multiple recommendations for the same book in the same week, so I was excited about giving this book a try.
I listened to the audiobook and loved every minute. It reminded me of Year Zero by Rob Reid and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. All three are nerdventure novels, a sub-genre of books defined on Goodreads as, "literary adventure fiction that celebrates all forms of nerdiness (including video games, science fiction, books, programming, maker culture, and more) by featuring bad-ass nerd protagonists taking down evil conglomerates, and culminating in a sense of childlike wonder and joy."
I think the reason these stories are so much fun to read is because you know going in that the endings will be happy. The adventures are like quests and in a way, they are coming of age stories for nerds. The authors capture so well what it's like to be a 20-something-year-old trying to get by, pay the bills, fall in love, and of course save the world.
Each story has its own flavor of nerdiness. Ready Player One reads like a video game, Year Zero takes on the music industry's ridiculous copyright laws by introducing aliens, and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore unravels a secret society. I listened to all three on audio and these books have the best narrator pairings: Wil Wheaton reads Ready Player One, John Hodgman reads Year Zero, and Ari Fliakos reads Mr. Penumbra's. I felt like a little kid back in the second grade during story time when the teacher would read us stories about dragons.
I like to read across genres and I think books like Ready Player One are perfect pick me up novels. I tend to seek them out after reading depressing stuff because they put me in a good mood. Though as of late, I have been craving more light-hearted adventure novels like these, so if you can think of any books that are similar please let me know!