I’m drafting this post while keeping one eye on my Twitter feed: a stream of baffled, angry, scared, furious tweets from some of the smartest women I know who are going half insane trying to make sense of what’s happening with the Supreme Court right now.
Around 5 pm, the conversation shifts. Call-to-action quotes, exclamations about male privilege and cries of pain give way to the topic of healing, or at least of soothing. People start sharing photos of the comfort food they’re eating for dinner, talking about the baths they’re planning, the fuzzy blankets they’re unfolding.
Books that make me feel better
The world is hard and it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on, but when the news is painful and upsetting you need a way to help yourself feel normal again afterwards. I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand, but having a way to recover so that you can do things like sleep and not cry or punch strangers is essential.
Here are some books that make me feel better. It’s a mix of fantasy, sexy sexy romance, heartfelt YA, books I loved when I was younger, and several that are a mix of these categories. Maybe they’ll make you feel better, too.
Everything Tamora Pierce has written, especially the Tortall books
When I do a TP reread, I start with Alanna the Lioness and read straight through: always Alanna and Daine, sometimes Kel and the newer series too, although I’m much less attached to the later characters. I also love the Circle of Magic books and some of that series sequels, although I don’t love them all equally.
Once upon a time, I was being interviewed for a prestigious position in a Fiction MFA program. The interview was going well until they asked me to name my favorite book and I said Ella Enchanted. I stand by my pick. Ella Enchanted is a creative, highly empowering, feminist interpretation of a classic fairy tale and I’m so glad that I found it when I was a child (and I still love reading it today.)
If you already know and love Ella, I recommend giving Summers at Castle Auburn a chance too.
Good Omens is a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and if you’re familiar with those two authors I bet that description was enough to get this on your library hold list. It is a strangely comforting, utterly absorbing, and frequently entertaining tale of the apocalypse. You can read my full review here.
This book is a series now, but the first novel is the one I love the most. I usually just reread the first book and then pretend that the sequels still haven’t come out yet. This is a story that is ostensibly about dragons, but is really about self-acceptance and it resonates deeply with something inside me.
Luck in the Shadows
This is an utterly fantastic little fantasy series that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. The series goes on for a bit now, but it’s the first three books that I find myself reading over and over again. Glorious world-building, engaging story, and a squee-worthy m/m romance.
If you like this, you should also read the author’s other series, The Bone Doll’s Twin. It’s creepier but just as good.
Fangirl and Carry On
Fangirl is a coming of age story about two sisters, from the point of view of Cath, the anxious, shy, fanfiction-writing sister who is having a harder time adapting to college. Carry On is Fangirl’s companion piece: it’s the fanfiction opus that Cath writes during Fangirl.
When I heard that Rainbow Rowell was going to publish her character’s book as a standalone novel, I thought it sounded stupid. But I was completely wrong. Carry On is glorious both in its own right and as an addendum to the Fangirl story. I actually may need to reread them both this weekend after thinking about them this much. They’re just so good.
Kirsten Cashore’s Graceling Realm
I love the three companion books of Kristen Cashore’s Graceling realm. They’re not strictly sequential, but if you want to keep things chronological you should start with Graceling, then read Fire, and finish with Bitterblue. You can read my full review of Fire here.
Three books, three very different strong heroines, three thrilling and inspiring adventures. I actually don’t know how I’m gong to choose which book to read after I finish writing this post.