For even the brightest of optimists, 2016 has been a struggle. I won’t go over some of the things that have made it less than rosy because you all know what I’m talking about.
Unfortunately, this year has been pretty difficult on a personal level too. There’s been some fantastic moments, some real ups of course, but also some major downs. I’ve had to rely on people more than ever, and when they couldn’t be there, I relied on my old faithful: books.
These past couple of years have been the ones where more than ever, I’ve needed the joy and escape of fiction. It’s helped to cheer me up, to comfort me, and to help remind me that I do still have a lot to be grateful for.
And let’s be honest, as much as we’d all like to hope, 2017 might not be a picnic either. In fact, I know that it might end up being one of the hardest years for me so far. But I’m ready (kinda). And I have this arsenal of happy, comfort-reading books to help me through. Let me know your recommendations and we’ll all huddle around our reading lists and get through it together!
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
My love for Brosh is not a secret. If you haven’t read her webcomic Hyperbole and a Half, schedule a few days out of your life and click on that. (You’re welcome.) This is just the paper version of her well-loved stories, with some new comics thrown in.
Her writing and the accompanying drawings have me literally howling with laughter no matter how many times I read them. And alongside the stories about dinosaur costumes and cake, there’s one about coping with depression, which includes one of the most honest and unique descriptions of the illness that I’ve ever heard. So it’s got everything you need to make you laugh, cry, then laugh again.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
It’s scientifically impossible not to laugh (and cringe) at the story of everyone’s favourite thirtysomething singleton. And for you young’uns, it’s a little nostalgic window into the past for when you could smoke in pubs, afford a flat in London and go through the night without drunk texting your ex.
I love this series so much that I can pick it up from any chapter and instantly have a giggle. If you’ve only seen the films, do yourself a favour and get to know the real Bridget. Plus, there are pages worth of Mr Darcy you’re missing out on.
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
I’m incapable of leaving this one out, not just because it’s my favourite series and literally magic, but because it’s perfect for when you need to hide out in the pages of a book for a few hours. You’ve got everything waiting for you: hope, friendship, the fight between good and evil, and petty teenage problems.
And you can pick a book depending on how you’re feeling. Philosopher’s Stone for some old-fashioned Hogwarts fun with only a mild slice of danger. Order of the Phoenix if you want a mood-swinging, angsty Potter. Or the Deathly Hallows for when you’re ready to burn everything to the ground and cry a lot.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
There are so many books I could choose for this spot, but none quite like The Princess Bride. It has everything you could want in a fairy tale: true love, romance, an evil prince, fencing, fighting and revenge.
And when I say fairy tale, I mean it in the tongue-in-cheek, not what you’d expect kind of way. This is a book that doesn’t take itself seriously, written by an author who delights in witty dialogue and putting his silly characters into immediate peril at every turn. This is something that I wish I’d read when I was much younger and is perfect when you want a page-turner that’ll make you laugh and help you escape a little.
And that's just me, what are your comfort-reading books?