So we’re living in pretty tumultuous times right now and I don’t know about you, but all this negativity is really affecting me. It’s gotten to the point where I no longer want to watch the news … but if that happens, I won’t know what’s happening. It’s basically a catch-22.
But books have always been a way for me to cope with negativity and I thought I should share some books that help easy my own anxiety, especially if you happen to be self-isolating as I am (the Victorian State government just announced a lockdown for my state…)
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
This book is so soft and sweet! I adored every minute of it. There’s no angst whatsoever, and the characters are just so gentle and sweet. It helps that 80% of the characters are children who you just want to hug and protect. Please read this book if you want to destress for a couple of hours.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jone
In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, Sophie Hatter attracts the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help – the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.
But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls…
This is one of the most fun novels I’ve ever read! A fantastic cross-over middle grade novel that will be enjoyed by adults as well. Sophie is so grumpy, Howl is insensible, and my favourite character Calcifer (the fire demon) is so sweet and funny. If you want a fun adventure novel with an oblivious romance burning between two idiots, then read this book!
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
Mrs. Bertrice Martin—a widow, some seventy-three years young—has kept her youthful-ish appearance with the most powerful of home remedies: daily doses of spite, regular baths in man-tears, and refusing to give so much as a single damn about her Terrible Nephew.
Then proper, correct Miss Violetta Beauchamps, a sprightly young thing of nine and sixty, crashes into her life. The Terrible Nephew is living in her rooming house, and Violetta wants him gone.
Mrs. Martin isn’t about to start giving damns, not even for someone as intriguing as Miss Violetta. But she hatches another plan—to make her nephew sorry, to make Miss Violetta smile, and to have the finest adventure of all time.
If she makes Terrible Men angry and wins the hand of a lovely lady in the process? Those are just added bonuses.
While the Terrible Nephew is very terrible and you kind of want to punch him in the face, the two leading ladies really make up for him. They’re so funny and dramatic and will go to so many ridiculous lengths to take their revenge. I will definitely be reading this again. If you are a romance reader and love funny stories, you’ll enjoy this!
Our Dining Table by Ori Mita
Eating around other people is a struggle for salaryman Yutaka, despite his talent for cooking. All that changes when he meets Minoru and Tane—two brothers, many years apart in age—who ask him to teach them how to make his delicious food! It’s not long before Yutaka finds himself falling hard for the meals they share together—and falling in love!
Oh my gosh, this is the sweetest, most wholesome manga I’ve ever read in my life! It’s about two young men falling in love over cooking, with the cutest little brother! Seriously look at his adorable face, any anxiety you were feeling will surely be gone now!
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson
From poet and classicist Anne Carson comes this translation of the work of Sappho, together with the original Greek. Carson presents all the extant fragments of Sappho’s verse, employing brackets and white space to denote missing text – allowing the reader to imagine the poems as they were written.
This is my favourite poetry collection ever. Sappho’s Fragments are so beautiful and tender, and so so so incredibly sapphic 😅. It’s quick to read but the poems will stay with you forever. My favourite:
“someone will remember us
even in another time.”
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?
This is a lovely graphic novel that I would recommend to everyone. The art is stunning and the characters’ friendship is developed so sweetly. While this book will certainly make you feel happy, I want my trans readers to be aware this is a forced outing scene that is challenged.
Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan and Alyssa Cole
On October 14, 1781, Alexander Hamilton led a daring assault on Yorktown’s defenses and won a decisive victory in America’s fight for independence. Decades later, when Eliza Hamilton collected his soldiers’ stories, she discovered that while the war was won at Yorktown, the battle for love took place on many fronts…
PROMISED LAND by Rose Lerner
Donning men’s clothing, Rachel left her life behind to fight the British as Corporal Ezra Jacobs–but life catches up with a vengeance when she arrests an old love as a Loyalist spy. At first she thinks Nathan Mendelson hasn’t changed one bit: he’s annoying, he talks too much, he sticks his handsome nose where it doesn’t belong, and he’s self-righteously indignant just because Rachel might have faked her own death a little. She’ll be lucky if he doesn’t spill her secret to the entire Continental Army. Then Nathan shares a secret of his own, one that changes everything…
THE PURSUIT OF… by Courtney Milan
What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.
* They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
* They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing.
* They are not falling in love with each other.
* They are not falling in love with each other.
* They are…. Oh, no.
THAT COULD BE ENOUGH by Alyssa Cole
Mercy Alston knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks. When Andromeda Stiel shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker. Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her worldview, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.
This might seem like a strange recommendation because there is quite a bit of angst in these short stories and all of them are set during and after the war, but even so, the romance in each story is wonderfully written and I would highly recommend all three stories. Because while the books are set at wartime, they’re romances so there’s a happy ending that will put a smile on your face for sure.
Team Phison by Chace Verity
For 55-year-old Phil Hutton, finding a new boyfriend is tough, especially since he’s still hurting from his ex leaving him for a younger man. Online dating has been a soul-crushing experience for the restaurant owner. Too many meat-haters interested in microbreweries or something called geocaching. His matches in the multiplayer for his favorite video game have been equally sucky too.
One night, he encounters a newbie who is so helpless, Phil can’t help showing him the ropes. It doesn’t take long for Phil to become interested in his enthusiastic teammate. 28-year-old Tyson Falls from Georgia loves working as a server in a rinky pizza joint and sees the best in everything. As Phil’s online dating matches get worse and his in-game matches with Tyson get better, he finds himself wanting to pursue the easygoing chatterbox with a thick, sexy drawl.
But Phil can’t get past the fear that Tyson couldn’t possibly want a fossil like him. If his brain doesn’t stop being so damn insecure, it might be game over for his heart.
This book feels like a giant hug. I’ve read it three times and really want to read it again! It’s just so wholesome and sweet and fun. You will be blushing like a loon while reading this age-gap romance, following two guys falling in love over a video game. I can’t see anyone not enjoying this book! Also: Tyson is the embodiment of a cinnamon roll. I adore him.
Have you read any of these books? What books would you recommend to read during these tumultuous times to ease anxiety? Let me know!