Comfort Reads

As I’m writing this it’s the 8th January 2021 and the UK is back in lockdown so in response I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite comfort reads. I’m not one to read books about very light-hearted topics but I’ve done my best to come up with some books that, in the simplest terms, I just really enjoyed reading. Reading them just made me happy. So whether

1: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

As one of my all-time favourite books, Little Women is probably my ultimate comfort read. I first read Little Women as a child so I’m sure that there is an element of nostalgia found in my love of the book but it is unfailing in it’s ability to make me feel warm and happy. Following the lives of the March sisters, as they transition out of childhood and into adulthood, learning what it means to be a woman in the 19th century, Little Women will never to cheer me up.

2: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I read this novel during the first UK lockdown back in May and it was a perfect form of escapism at the time. I’ll be the first to admit that fantasy is not my go-to genre, but when I was finishing my degree in the midst of a pandemic, entering a whole other world was the ideal antidote and Morgenstern creates and incredible world. A universe seeped in magic combined with a truly intriguing plot makes this book a perfect read to tackle lcokdown/January blues. See my full review here.

3: Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

This was a spontaneous purchase by my girlfriend that turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books that I read all year. If you’re a fan of a Sherlock/Watson pairing or an Agatha Christie style mystery, this the book for you. This a classic mystery novel brought into the modern day with some first-class LGBTQ+ and disability representation. I read this hilarious novel in two days and I’m desperately awaiting the sequel.

4: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This brilliant book follows the whirlwind rise and fall of 1970s rock band ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’. The book is written in the form of interviews with each of the band members and various people close to them at the time, all of which are interweaved to reveal the reasons behind the band’s infamous break up. This book is so well-written that you can’t believe that the band doesn’t exist. This is such an incredible way to craft a story like this and was an amazingly fun read.

5: Loveless by Alice Oseman

I read this novel last summer in about two days and it was a genuinely pleasant surprise. I’m not a big reader of YA so I still had a very fixed idea of YA being the same as what I read when I was younger, and so it was really interesting to see the evolution it’s made as a genre. This easy-read explores what it means to be 18-years-old and figuring your sexual and romantic orientation in a truly authentic way. See my full review here.

So those are my top 5 recommended comfort reads to help you get through lockdown, or just try to beat the January blues. These are all fun reads that will bring a person joy no matter the situation you’re in.


The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

The night circus arrives without warning, simply appearing where it was not the day before and then disappears without a trace. Erin Morgenstern beautifully captures the magic of such a circus in this incredible fantasy novel.

This was the first fantasy novel I have read in quite a while and I am so glad I did. The novels follows the journey’s of Celia and Marco, both connected to the circus and locked in a fierce competition with each other with the circus as its venue. They have been trained since childhood for this competition but are in no way prepared for the realities of it.

Morgenstern is a magnificent writer who transports the reader to another world where the impossible becomes possible and you can’t help but wish you could be a part of it. This incredible novel is beyond imaginative and will absorb you into a world which is not merely magical but also intensely dark at points.

The harshness of the character of Prospero the Enchanter is as shocking as the character of Tsukiko is mysterious. The dark quality this brings to the novel results in a deeply intriguing story that is made up of twists and turns that are impossible to predict. This is further emphasised by the fluctuation in which characters are at the forefront of the narrative. Where we are introduced to the book through Prospero and Mr A.H- they very naturally become background characters as the book goes on, with our focus instead being on Marco and Celia, and later Widget, Poppet and Bailey. By placing Prospero and Mr A.H- in the background they remain surrounded by a dark quality, they orchestrate this situation and then sit back a watch, making sparing and infrequent appearances but very much remaining separate from it all.

Similarly, one of my favourite aspects of the book was how my interest in each of the story lines fluctuated throughout the novel as I gradually found out more about each of the characters and gained insight into the connection to the circus and the other characters. For me, this was most evident in my opinion of Bailey and the chapters focused on him. When Bailey was first introduced, I found his chapters fairly uninteresting and slightly disappointed when they interrupted other story lines I wanted to read more about. However, as the novel continues, and Bailey grows closer to Poppet and Widget , I became fair more intrigued by him and grew to enjoy his perspective on the circus as an outsider.

Another interesting thing to note about the book is Morgenstern’s choice to interweave short descriptions of you, the reader, walking through the circus with the main narrative. This is an interesting way of immersing the reader in the circus, providing information not directly relevant to the story but equally fascinating in a way that serves to more successfully create an image of the circus in your mind. It also aligns beautifully with the narrative arcs throughout the book with your journey through the circus mirroring the start, middle and conclusion of the story, with you leaving the circus as the book draws to a close.

Overall, this is a beautifully written novel and Morgenstern creates an incredible world that everyone should spend time in.