Why it's a good idea to curl up with a book.
If you've been following me for a while, you know that I love books. I've always been a book worm - rumor has it that I can't even remember not being able to read - and I've found a lot of comfort and delight this year in (re)discovering new and old favorites.
Getting lost in a book is especially appealing if you're in the Northern hemisphere like me and the days get shorter, the light gets greyer and the rain showers appear more frequently in front of your windows. It's an excellent - and cheap, if you're a devoted library goer - way to shut out the world, but it's also wonderful to get inspired, process your emotions and thoughts, and realize that there are other, greater, problems out there in the world than a few seams being wonky or a shipment of fabric getting lost.
As much as I like a good non-fiction book, my heart will always be with the imaginary heroes and heroines, the wonderful worlds writers have created, the adventures and joys and sorrows of the Harrys and Bilbos and Mary Poppins' of this world. Which is why I decided now would be a great time to introduce you to a few of my perennial favorites. Some of them are recent discoveries, others have stayed with me for years and years. All of them are great for losing yourself - in the best way possible.
Sidenote: I'm always (always!) happy to discover books that other people love. If you have one that you'd like to share, I'd be thrilled if you did so in the comments below.
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
Oh yes. I re-read the entire book series in September and October, and I fell in love with it all over again. It had been years - I believe 10? - since I read all of them back to back, and it's been wonderful to rediscover them, to find new hints and connections, to understand more and deeper and better. In the words of my partner: "Isn't this for children?" Oh yes. And I hope I will never be so old that I lose the child in me that enjoys these books so immensely and believes in what they teach us about how love can heal the world.
the long way to a small angry planet & a closed and common orbit, Becky Chambers
I'm constantly on a quest to find Sci-Fi and fantasy books written by womxn (any recommendations my way please!!) so imagine my delight when I discovered the wonderful work of Becky Chambers. Her two first novels take place in the same universe and they're somewhat related, but not in a series kind of way, and they paint a picture of a strange, wonderful world where we've discovered so much of the universe, among other things that we're by far not the most intelligent people out there. Also - one of the rare works of fiction where race and gender and sexual preferences are not exploited.
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
It's been a while since I read this book, but it still is one that I look back on fondly. A story of discovering land - New Zealand, in this case -, strange relationships, secrecy, wilderness, in the best way possible. I should re-read this one soon as well!
Das Labyrinth der träumenden Bücher, Walter Moers
I have no idea if Walter Moers' books are available in English - I've only ever read them in German - but if you're a German native speaker or proficient in it, and you love crazy, weird tales of talking hyper-intelligent weird beings, adventures under ground, books, books, books and the intricacies and beauty of the German language, they are a must for you. I enjoyed this one in particular, but he's just come out with a new one that most definitely goes on my wish list for Christmas.
Anything by Haruki Murakami
Murakami for me is like a warm, gentle bath, a good glass of red wine, a hug from a loved one you haven't seen in a while, so comforting and familiar and yet strangely new and wondrous every time. It's the writer I go to when things have gone wrong, when I need something to comfort me, when I want familiarity without boringness. If you haven't read him, go, no, run, and pick something up by him, anything.
The Stormlight Archive (#1 & #2), Brandon Sanderson
Oh how long I've been waiting for book #3 to come out and I can't wait to get my hands on it come December! One of the best fantasy series I've ever read (and I've read a lot of them, trust me). I have no idea how Sanderson cranks out the amount of books he publishes, but I don't care as long as the quality of this series never ever drops. The adventures of Kelsier and the people and powers he encounters are magical.
Mary Poppins, Pamela L. Travers
For the longest time, I wanted to be Mary Poppins as a child. The first serious kick-ass woman I consciously encountered in writing - come on, Pippi Langstrumpf is great, but you can't take her seriously, can you? -, the first ever role model that didn't take shit from men, and on top of that she could do magic without a wand or anything? YES PLEASE.
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
There's a podcast episode out there where I talk about this book. The best one I read all year. The scariest one. The one that cracked me wide open, that didn't leave my side for four days until I was done with it, the one that haunts my dreams. The one that shows the best and the worst sides of humanity. The one that you need to read, even if it hurts, especially because it hurts. Because it's so beautiful and so horrible.