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.

Anne with an E

Anne with an E is a Netflix original show based on the story of Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a favourite childhood book series of mine, but with a darker twist.

The show is truly impressive in how it serves to retain the integrity of the original story whilst fleshing out the impact Anne’s childhood in an abusive orphanage had on her mental health and expanding the cast and subplots to be far more inclusive and diverse.

The consideration given the Anne’s mental health is a particular focus of the first season of the show which presents us with multiple flashbacks that Anne experiences of her life at the orphanage. Further into the show these lessen, most likely as a reflection of Anne settling into life at Green Gables and leaving behind her abusive past.

Whilst some may consider this a failing of the show, perhaps an unrealistic representation of dealing with traumatic experiences, I choose to consider the show in a more generous light. I believe that not only does the historical context allow for a little more forgiveness regarding the limited extent to which the show can explore mental health issues, but also accept that various narratives moved on and leaving behind the exploration of Anne’s traumatic past opened up the show to demonstrate other diverse narratives.

One of my favourite things about this show is that it is set in the 19th century in Canada but does not lazily insist on only portraying the storylines of straight white people. Instead, we are given both non-white and LGBTQ+ characters, both of which are rarely seen in historical dramas.

This led to one of my favourite story lines of the most recent season which followed a young Native American girl being taken to a reservation school where she was forced to assimilate to white Christian culture. I will acknowledge that I am unsure of the opinion of any Native American individuals so I cannot comment on the sensitivity or accuracy of the story line, and will therefore limit my commentary to simply expressing how much I enjoyed watching it.

Furthermore, the themes of women’s rights and racism that are threaded throughout the season stand up nicely against the backdrop of 19th century life in Canada and the prejudices expectations, or lack thereof, women and people of colour come up against. However, the success of the show’s inclusion of such themes and story lines is found its ability to in no way lose any of the charm found in the original books.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the original book series or just a good historical drama but looking for more diverse representation then I would definitely recommend giving this show a watch.