Loved Inside Out 2? Here’s A Book Recommendation For Each Emotion

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Inside Out, the Disney Pixar film that introduced the world to 11-year-old Riley’s emotions as she navigates a big move from Minnesota to San Francisco, is back with its sequel running in theatres. Inside Out 2 saw a phenomenal opening weekend, breaking all box office records and earning approximately $295m worldwide! It has now become the highest-ever opener for an animated film worldwide and for all the right reasons.  

Inside Out 2 sees Riley dealing with more complicated emotions, namely, Anxiety, Envy, Ennui and Embarrassment. Whether you’ve seen the films or not (we highly recommend you do!), we have a list of book recommendations, all catering to Riley’s emotions as features in the movies. 

Joy’s main aim is to ensure Riley’s happiness. She is cheerful, optimistic, and always eager to find the fun in every situation. Joy views Riley’s challenges as opportunities and the less joyful moments as temporary setbacks on the path to something wonderful. As long as Riley is happy, Joy is too. 

The Hidden Pool by Ruskin Bond is a delightful tale of friendship and adventure. It follows three boys—Laurie, Anil, and Kamal—who discover a hidden pool in the mountains. Through their explorations, they bond over shared experiences, go on treks and travel to glaciers, and learn valuable life lessons.  

Sadness finds it very hard to be positive, unlike Joy. She helps Riley let out her emotions and have a good cry. The other Emotions don’t understand Sadness’s role much until much later. She was the second Emotion to appear in Riley, right after Joy.  

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao is a poignant story about love, loss, and moving on. After the sudden death of her boyfriend Sam, Julie discovers she can still communicate with him through his old phone. As they share final conversations, Julie learns to cope with her grief and find hope. It would help Sadness to read something like this and realise that there is still hope to remain optimistic. 

Fear helps keep Riley safe. He constantly looks out for potential risks and threats and prevents her from feeling guilty and making decisions she will regret later on. 

Lia from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls could have really used Fear’s assistance. Best friends Lia and Cassie are competitors in a deadly context but when Cassie tragically dies, Lia is left behind. The novel follows Lia grieving her best friend’s death and feeling guilty for not being able to keep Cassie safe (just like Fear saves Riley). 

Anger has a fiery spirit, tends to erupt when things go awry and most importantly, feels very strongly about ensuring things are fair for Riley. Although he can become rude and aggressive most times, he is very protective of Riley and is a very no-nonsense emotion. 

Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is one of the few YA novels to portray teenage wrath accurately. After witnessing the inhumane shooting of her unarmed black best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer, Starr Carter is stirred to seek justice for her community. The novel navigates her anger at the justice system and racism in the U.S. while placing her emotion correctly, that is, to avenge her innocent best friend’s murder. 

Disgust prevents Riley from getting poisoned by paying attention to people, places and all things that Riley comes into contact with even if it is just broccoli. Thus, Disgust could potentially be a great mystery solver, particularly in crime and investigative horror. 

PTSD Radio Omnibus 1 (Vol. 1-2) is the story of Ogushi that haunts and tortures humans of all kinds. Not much is known about its curse, except that it resides in a peculiar place: human hair. Horrifying and mysterious in equal parts, PTSD Radio manga stories is one for fans of Disgust. 

Anxiety’s main role is to help Riley become a better version of herself and to help her overcome her main worries for the future. She helps Riley make some new friends and get rid of her negative thoughts about herself and her life. She is Riley’s anxiety. 

Sixteen-year-old Aza (very reminiscent of Riley herself) in John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down lives with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. On the surface, the story revolves around Aza trying to hunt down a fugitive billionaire. But that happens under the guise of a coming-of-age story wherein Aza learns to grapple with her spiraling thoughts, compulsions and relationships that are affected in part due to her anxiety. 

Although jealousy is largely considered a negative emotion, Envy expresses loudly how she wishes she had the said trait, and this helps Riley understand what she wants. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is an inspiring novel about Nora Seed, who finds herself in a magical library between life and death. Each book offers a glimpse into different lives she could have lived. As Nora explores these alternate realities, she discovers the power of choices and the importance of embracing life’s possibilities. Like Envy, her alternate realities help Nora realise what she really wants and who she really is. 

Ennui is the perfect embodiment of teenage angst and indifference at the same time. She is generally unbothered and dissatisfied — a new emotion that comes with the onset of puberty. Ennui calls herself the synonym of boredom.  

A book that perfectly captures the spirit of teenage rebellion and boredom is Unbroken by Nandhika Nambi. The protagonist is about to appear for her board exams, she labels herself a monster and is confined to a wheelchair and is indifferent to everyone around her, including her brother and parents. She grapples with all this while trying to reconcile with her disability and get out of her cocoon. 

Embarrassment is always on the sidelines, lurking and too shy to interact or say anything. He responds whenever Riley does something considered socially unacceptable or awkward. Embarrassment is for all of us introverted wallflowers out there! 

So is Darius from Adib Khorram’s Darius The Great Is Not Okay. He is not used to being the main character of his life and keeps mum about everything including his depression. However just like Embarrassment opens up to Joy by extending a fist, Darius too spreads his wings when he travels to Iran to visit his grandparents and meets Sohrab in whom he slowly finds a friend.