Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Books to cosy up with this autumn

In the foreground is a walnut coffee table with two candles lit, and a mug of tea. Behind this Jess sits on a cream/grey speckled sofa, featuring lots of cushions and an orange tasseled blanket. Jess is holding her kindle and wearing a green knitted jumper over a skirt and tights.

The leaves are turning brown, it's getting darker earlier and the temperature has dropped about 15 degrees; autumn has well and truly hit the UK. Now I don't know about you, but when autumn hits all I want to do is stay indoors (and with local lockdowns going on left, right and centre there's not a lot of choice to do otherwise), and aside from watching the Bake Off (SO happy that's back), I like to make myself a cup of tea, light a candle, and get stuck into a book. 

Over the last few years I have started to read a lot more again, and so I thought I would share with you my top recommendations of books to get cosy with - they're not necessarily what I would describe as 'cosy' books e.g. set it in the idyllic countryside where someone goes on a holiday and ends up falling in love with the local farmer - but more books that you can get a bit lost in and read in a few afternoon sittings.

One Day - David Nicholls

You may have seen the film starring Anne Hathaway and think you don't need to read this book, but you really, really, do. Emma and Dexter meet on the 15th July 1988 on the night of their graduation, and in the morning they must go their separate ways. The book then follows what's happening with both Emma and Dexter on the 15th July for the next 20 consecutive years. Although only describing one day each year, a lot happens within their lives and their friendship. Part of its charm is the reader trying to fill in the blanks of what happened between years to lead to XYZ. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

From the author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan from the 1960s to 2000s and is centred around two women, Mariam and Laila. At the start of the book Afghanistan is subject to Soviet rule, and the book follows through the Afghani war with the Soviets, the Taliban taking power, and the US attacking Afghanistan. Events bring Mariam and Laila together, and throughout traumatic events together they form a mother-daughter like bond. 

Dominicana - Angie Cruz

Dominicana is set in the mid-1960s and focuses on fifteen year old Ana from the Dominican Republic, who is happy where she is, but after Juan Ruiz proposes to her (and she must say yes, despite him being twice her age) moves to New York. In New York she is confined to their flat, and lonely and miserable - NYC isn't the haven it's made out to be. The book follows Ana for about a year of her life, examining an immigrant experience - by the end of it you have remind yourself that everything that's happened to her, happened to her at the age of 15. 

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife is one of the beefier books in this selection (over the 500 page mark) but it's very engaging and easy to read so it doesn't feel like a drag. The book switches between the first person prose of Henry and Clare; Henry unwittingly time travels and the book follows their relationship over a disjointed timeline. As an example, Clare first meets Henry when she's a little girl and he's in his 40's, but Henry meets Clare when she's left home and he's in his 20's. The time travel is a bit confusing to begin with but it becomes easier to understand and is a lovely read. I would also recommend the film version of this, but read the book first!

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

Oh Rebecca, the book that got me back into reading! The heroine of this book is accompanying her employer on a trip to the South of France where she meets Maxim de Winter - a recent widower who wastes no time in proposing. Moving to Maxim's home on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter becomes obsessed with Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, and all-consumed into discovering what led to her death. Big Jane Eyre-vibes but a lot easier to read (and if you enjoyed Rebecca, you must also read Frenchman's Creek and My Cousin Rachel - basically anything by du Maurier is fantastic). There's a new adaptation of Rebecca coming out on Netflix on the 21st October (not that I'm counting down or anything) that I want to check out - but again you should read the book first!

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

Big lover of Thomas Hardy here - Far From the Madding Crowd is a slightly more positive novel than some of Hardy's other works (especially Jude the Obscure - crikey that's a depressing read). Bathsheba Everdene takes up a position of farm owner on a large estate, which draws three very different suitors, gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier Sergeant Troy, and shepherd Gabriel Oak. Filled with descriptions of rural life, courtship and sexual relationships, if you're after more of a 'classic' to get cosy with, it should be this one! 

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstein

The Circus arrives without warning with a black sign hanging on the gate that reads "Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn" - the tents are home to a magical and mystical unique experience. Behind the scenes a duel is underway between young magicians Celia and Marco, who have been trained for this exact purpose. Falling in love they set off a series of consequences that could effect the whole circus, as unbeknownst to them only one can be left standing at the end of the duel. 

The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien

The easier of the Tolkien books, The Hobbit is more discovery and less-fighty than Lord of the Rings (and less heavy in the descriptive department). Bilbo, a hobbit who is happy and content with his home comforts, is enlisted by Gandalf the wizard to join a group of dwarves on an expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Along the way Bilbo comes into contact with goblins, trolls, spiders, and the infamous Gollum. You can easily enjoy this on its own without reading Lord of the Rings, and you don't need any prior knowledge to enjoy it either. 

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

This is for all those out there who love a thriller and won't read anything outside of this genre (I know a few people like this!). Amy disappears and husband Nick shows no grief or worry, and soon becomes number one suspect. Alternating between Nick in the present day and past diary entries of Amy,  we learn their marriage wasn't all peachy - is Amy really missing? If you enjoyed Gone Girl, I would also recommend The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson. 

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

This is one of those books that I know I'll never stop recommending. Tom ages one year every fourteen/fifteen years, so was born in the 1500s and is technically over 400 years old, but looks about 40. The book alternates between Tom in the present and Tom in the past, as he continually moves round so there's no suspicion on how he's not ageing, and in the search for his daughter Marion who also has the same condition. A really easy book to get into - and you feel like you're having a fun history lesson at the same time!

The Flat Share - Beth O'Leary

This has been doing the rounds this year, everyone and their mum seem to be talking about it (though saying that I don't think my mum has read it!). Tiffy needs to find somewhere new to live quickly after separating from her boyfriend, and Leon works nights and advertises a flat share - Leon will be there during the day and the Tiffy will be there at night. They start to leave little post it notes for each other, and soon become close friends though never having met. If you want a nice light-hearted, slightly cheesy read, then I would recommend this.

If I Never Met You - Mhairi McFarlane

On the theme of slightly cheesy romcom books, my last recommendation is a recent read of mine - Laurie's long-term partner Dan leaves her right at the start of the book, and in a bid to make him jealous/win him back, she makes a plan with new office hottie Jamie to "date" until the office Christmas party, in turn helping him in his bid to become partner of their law firm. This has big How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days vibes, and is another one I'd recommend for a nice easy (and slightly predictable) read. 

I hope you've found a new read to get cosy with! What would you recommend? I'm always up for adding new books to my TBR pile.

Jess x 

1 comment

  1. Nice selection there Jess! I ve read quite a few of them, I ll keep my eye open for those I haven't when I m over in England and can do the 2nd hand book shops - whenever that might be!


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