I’m a little addicted to reading.
What other hobby enables you to travel to different worlds (for free if you are organised enough to add them onto your hold list at the local library!) and understand life from a completely different perspective for a brief window of time?
Now, if you ever feel guilty about indulging in your literary pursuits, just quote this research about how reading fiction makes you more empathetic and exercises many different parts of your brain. Need more back up? Here is a list of 10 things books help you do that you probably didn’t even realise!
Some of my favourite books are in the ‘heartwarming category’ – you know, those books that contain characters who you would love to meet in real life or who are portrayed so compellingly that you become forever entwined in their journeys.
Here are a few of my top reads to snuggle up with. The washing can wait, the dinner can be managed later – come on, you know you want to – curl up with a book!
1. Gravity is The Thing (Jaclyn Moriarty)
This is the kind of book that you will pause after reading a particularly poignant paragraph and just smile. Jaclyn Moriarty is a wizard with words. She has this way of communicating layers upon layers of meaning, with elements of lightness but such depth at the same time. I loved the character of Abigail Sorenson and her oh-so-familiar way of overthinking and justifying everything (I had to add in the words ‘the character’ then because in my mind she is really out there living somewhere!). While there were some exceptionally sad themes in the book, Moriarty handles them with such deftness that you feel capable to tackle them, and inserts such delicate wit and humour in the perfect places to buoy your spirits again. If you have ever read a self-help book, mocked the myriad of confusing ways in which humans attempt to find meaning, or hoped for fate/destiny to come through; this is a book for you. I was simultaneously desperate to finish the book and devastated when it was over. So, so good.
2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)
This has been out a while now, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, it is well worth a read. Eleanor is such an endearing character despite of (or perhaps because of) her many quirks. Her struggle to grasp the supposedly ‘normal’ social conventions, her fascinating internal commentary and the shimmers of vulnerability that shine out unexpectedly – all contribute towards making her someone you want everything to work out for. I won’t spoil the story by revealing too much more, but Honeyman is a master of the gradual reveal. She expertly weaves in humour along with the darker elements and makes the book both heart-warming and heart-achingly beautiful.
3. The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village (Joanna Nell)
The title alone had me hooked before I picked up the book, and I love the setting and main character (when is the last time you read a book set in a retirement village?!). I laughed out loud many times as I read – mainly at the hilarious malapropisms of the very endearing Peggy Smart. Joanna Nell has created a world of vibrant characters who feel completely real and she brings to life the complicated reality of what it is like to grow old in such a fast-paced world. In fact, I loved this so much that I immediately handed it to my mother in law who also enjoyed every minute. Funny, clever, engaging and heart-warming, this is a book that you won’t want to end.
4. Lenny’s Book of Everything (Karen Foxlee)
This might be marketed as a kids’ book but don’t be fooled (in fact, on that point, I have created a list of children’s fiction that adults will love too). This is the kind of book that will stay with you – the story, the characters (from Mrs Gaspar’s quirky beehive hairdo, to Mr King’s pinching of the bridge of his nose, to the beaming smile of Matthew Milford) and Foxlee’s way with words combine to create a deftly woven masterpiece that is heartbreaking and beautiful. Lenny’s observations, her shortcomings and the enormous weight she carries on behalf of her family – all come together to make her so endearing and believable and as for Davey… what can I say? Your heart will grow bigger as a result of letting this one in.
If you love reading you are in the right place. You can follow my reviews in real time over at Goodreads, or check out some of the other curated lists that I have put together.