Some days, weeks (and months!) can feel trickier to wade through than others. If the weather feels a little bit grim, if you’re burnt out, or if life has decided to throw you a few curve balls, then escapism and time-out can really help!
I find (unsurprisingly!) that reading brings me so much comfort. It’s that time when you jump into another world, take yourself away from everything that’s going on around you and – the best bit – you can do all of that from the comfort of your own bed, surrounded by a blanket mountain, hot chocolate in hand.
For me, comfort reads tend to be either atmospheric and enchanting, heartfelt and characterful or, (when I’m feeling a bit gloomy) it helps if the book is a real page-turner – one that I don’t want to put down, that captures my attention and holds onto it.
So, if that’s got you in the mood for a cosy afternoon in, snuggled up with a new book, then here’s a list of ‘comfort reads’ that I absolutely love! I hope you find something you’ll enjoy.
Atmospheric and enchanting:
Late one snowy night, a storm halts the Orient Express in its tracks. Its passengers are stranded onboard, unable to disembark the train. With no one getting on or off, everyone becomes a key suspect when a wealthy American businessman is found stabbed in his cabin. Hercule Piorot must get to work uncovering the truth behind the murder on the Orient Express.
To me, this is the perfect murder mystery – set in a bleak, snowy landscape inside an opulent sleeper train, full of glamorous and eccentric characters, all of whom may be hiding more than one dark secret. If you’re lucky enough to be coming to this for the first time, I’m excited for you!
Emily Brontë’s famous novel, first published in 1847, needs no introduction. It is the very famous story of Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff. They grow up together, as Heathcliff is fostered by the Earnshaw families. As they grow, they become inseparable soul mates. But when Cathy marries another, Heathcliff becomes desperate to seek his revenge.
It’s been a long time since I read this book (at least ten years!) but there’s something endlessly fascinating about the Cathy-Heathcliff dynamic, set against the atmospheric backdrop of the wild Yorkshire moors.
On my list: The Forgotten Garden
When Cassandra’s grandmother dies, she feels lost and alone. Cassandra’s life is turned upside down when she receives an unexpected bequest from her late grandmother. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her family is called into question.
Cassandra tries to find the truth about their family’s history and, in doing so, discovers a new life for herself.
Heartfelt and characterful
Kya lives in the marsh land, North Carolina. Abandoned by her entire family and very much alone, she has to learn to fend for herself and to rely on the swamp wildlife for company. When two young men come into her insular life, they are charmed by her unique beauty and reclusive ways. Just as Kya is beginning to find out what it is to be loved, disaster strikes.
This novel has had so much attention, and I think it’s well deserved. It’s a beautiful novel about love, loneliness and survival. For more of my thoughts on this meandering, slow-paced, naturalistic novel, take a look at my full review.
Possibly one of my favourite books of all time, Small Island is an ode to the Windrush generation and life in post-war London. It’s 1948 and Queenie Bligh has two new lodgers, Gilbert Joseph and his wife Hortense. Gilbert is a Jamaican man who joined the RAF, alongside thousands of his countrymen, to fight the Nazis. However, when he returns to London after the war, he is not welcomed. Hortense, who is excited to start a new life in England, quickly realises that the cold, damp and run-down city of post-war London is not how she imagined it to be – and nor is her new husband. This story follows all its central characters as they attempt to build their lives in a place that doesn’t accept people’s differences or thank those who fought for its freedom.
On my list: A Man Called Ove
Ove is a very grumpy man, bothered by everything and everyone. When a boisterous young family move in next door, everything starts to change.
This bestseller has been described as heartwarming, up-lifting and life-affirming. What more could you want from a comfort read?
Plot driven page turners
The Vanishing Half is about The Vignes twins, Stella and Desiree, who grow up together in a small, southern town called Mallard. Desiree is desperate to grow up and leave Mallard. When they turn 16, the twins run away to New Orleans. It is at this point that things change forever and the twins part ways, irreversibly.
It’s a brilliantly deep and absorbing novel that will keep you turning the pages rapidly for hours. You can read my full review for more thoughts on this one!
While taking a wintery walk on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets the bold, successful writer, Constance (Connie) Holden. Falling in love fast, Elise soon becomes infatuated with this enigmatic, brilliant older woman. She is so drawn to Connie that she follows her to LA, where Connie’s first novel is being made into a major motion picture. But as time goes by, Elise feels increasingly lost and out of her depth. In a catalytic moment of spontaneity, Elise makes a choice that will upend her life as she knew it.
I found this book really warm and inviting in so many ways – from the relatable characters, to the emotive storyline, it felt like a thoughtful and tender read while also being quite the page turner! If this sounds like your cup of tea, take a look at my recent review.
On my list: Black Rain Falling
Set on the Caribbean island of Camaho, this crime novel centres around forensics expert Michael ‘Digger’ Digson and his fellow CID detective Miss Stanislaus. Stanislaus has killed a man in self-defence and now faces the accusation of murder.
A crime thriller might not seem like a ‘comfort read’, but I think a story that hooks you in and introduces you to fascinating characters in unimaginable situations has the power to be really escapist. Next time I feel like my mind can’t focus on anything, I might try delving into Black Rain Falling.
Let me know in the comments how you spend a comfy day reading – are you on the coach with a glass of wine, or in bed with a big slice of cake? I’d love to know what you’re reading when you need a little bit of comfort!