the holidays! A time for family, food, and stress-sobbing in the bathroom after your aunt makes another pointed comment about your body image. For some people, the holidays are 100% merriment and warm beverages. For others, they're an endless gauntlet of awkward social situations, cooking, cleaning, explaining your dietary restrictions to your elderly relatives, and going broke trying to buy presents for all your loved ones while juggling three jobs and an astronomical rent bill. In short, the holidays can be a stressful time. Whether you're navigating a thorny family situation or just overworked and underpaid, here are a few comfort reads to get you through another holiday season alive.
I mean, yes, I'm still a big sap for holiday tales of togetherness and goodwill towards all of mankind. But every once in a while you need
a break from the relentless advertising and the music and the Facebook invites to events you can't even begin to parse. So these books all offer cheerful relaxation without being particularly focused on any particular holiday season. Pick them up when you need a moment's peace, or when your commute/travel schedule/mother is about to make you scream. They may not get you out of cooking duty, but they'll give you a few moments of stress relief:
'Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You' by Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun
Who better to pull you out of a holiday stress spiral than the twin kings of kindness on Twitter, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun?
Gmorning, Gnight! is a truly adorable series of pep talks for when getting out of bed seems too daunting, and shutting down for the night seems utterly impossible. Just try not to be charmed by Miranda's upbeat aphorisms, perfectly paired with Sun's delightful drawings. Click here to buy.
'Hilda and the Troll' by Luke Pearson
If you've already seen the Netflix series, then you know that Hilda is a resourceful little girl who tromps around the vaguely Scandinavian countryside, learning about friendship and befriending trolls and giants. Don't let the premise fool you, though:
Hilda and the Troll is still a lovely, strange read for adults, and it pairs perfectly with a big sweater and a mug of hot cocoa (or a mug of lingonberry sauce from Ikea). Click here to buy.
'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon
Do your holiday festivities always involve your family members grilling you about your love life? Then you'll understand the struggle of Dimple Shah, who is so done with being pressured into finding the "perfect" husband. But then she meets Rishi, a hopeless romantic who is ready to get serious right away... and the result is this sweet, bighearted rom-com that'll give you a dose of summer romance in the dead of winter.
Click here to buy.
'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables has been a much-beloved comfort read for years, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Anne is a plucky, red-headed orphan, so naturally it is her lot in life to get into scrapes and bring life and love to a sleepy little town in the gorgeous Canadian countryside. Click here to buy.
'Relish: My Life in the Kitchen' by Lucy Knisley
What is more joyful than reading about food? Probably eating food, but the holidays already feature a considerable amount of eating. If all that food prep has you daydreaming about cheese and olives and farmer's markets, check out this delectable memoir about growing up in the kitchen and learning to appreciate the art of cooking.
Click here to buy.
'Hope in the Dark' by Rebecca Solnit
Sometimes, all those political arguments with your anarchist cousin over pie can bring you to a dark place. If your holiday stressed is wrapped up with your general "the government is going to be the doom of us all" stress, then try Rebecca Solnit's
Hope in the Dark, on the importance and the potency of hope, even in the darkest of places. Click here to buy.
'Letter to My Daughter' by Maya Angelou
If you need words of wisdom and support this holiday season, with some poetry thrown in for good measure, then you need Maya Angelou's
Letter to My Daughter. It's a collection of memories, essays, poems, and letters of encouragement to all the daughters (and sons) out there who might need some extra courage to make it through the year. Click here to buy.
'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling
I'll be honest with you: when I'm
really stressed, books full of kind encouragements and hopeful sentiments just don't cut it. I need a showbiz memoir. Preferably a showbiz memoir by a glamorous comedian, who is as inspiring as she is ruthlessly funny. Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? is the perfect storm of hilarious and heartfelt, perfect if you need a laugh while hiding from the wintry weather. Click here to buy.
'The Kiss Quotient' by Helen Hoang
Rom-coms make for great stress-reducing reads. Even if you don't think of yourself as a lovey dovey person,
The Kiss Quotient is a great romance for non-romantics: Stella is a genius when it comes to math, but well behind the curve when it comes to dating. So, naturally, she figures that practice is the solution... and she hires a professional to show her how it's done. But of course, she fails to factor in her own feelings... Click here to buy.
'Nimona' by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona has been described as a "deadpan epic." It's got magic and adventure and dragons and science, but it's also a hilarious subversion of typical fantasy tropes, with our plucky heroine acting as sidekick to a blackhearted supervillain. If you're in the mood for escapist fantasy with a clever twist, this is the book for you. Click here to buy.
'If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young' by Kurt Vonnegut
Sometimes all you need is for a crotchety-yet-brilliant science fiction author to lecture you about all the good things in life.
If This Isn't Good What Is? collects Vonnegut's graduation speeches, which are every bit as weird and thoughtful as his novels, with the added bonus that they'll make you excited to get out there and do something with your life. Click here to buy.