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 Chalkman

CJ Tudor

This Stephen King-esque thriller was a true unexpected gem. I found it in a charity shop about a year ago and finally got around to reading it this year and I wasn’t disappointed.

The novel alternates between Ed as a 12 year old in 1986 and Ed as an adult in 2016 as present day Ed is forced to remember events of his childhood when mysterious drawings of chalk men once again start appearing.

The way in which Tudor balances the separate events and Ed’s reflections of the past is beautifully done, leaving you torn between wanting to find out what happened in 1986 and what’s about to happen in 2016. I particularly enjoy books which alternate chapters between characters or different points in time so this was one of the features which initially drew me to the book.

Although I would say that some of the reveals felt slightly anti-climactic, this certainly doesn’t detract from the constantly building sense of unease you feel as you read the book, particularly with regard to the 2016 narrative. Whilst you are always expecting something to happen in the 1986 chapters, and there are still moments where Tudor is able to surprise you, there is an element of ease about them because of the knowledge you gain from the 2016 chapters, whereas this same sense of ease cannot be found in the present day chapters.

Instead there is very much a sense of finally understanding what happened 30 years prior, whilst still being unable to predict what will happen next, filling the 2016 chapters with far more mystery, with one answer often leading you to another question.

However, I would say that the main drawback of the book for me was Ed’s lack of likeability, which I found to be particularly pronounced in the chapters featuring him as an adult. Unfortunately, after reading a certain amount of the book I started to find his character quite wearing as he predominantly came across as a self-pitying, mildly alcoholic middle-aged man.

Fortunately this in know way took away from the final shock twist of the book and I thoroughly recommend this book based on the ending alone.