February has arrived. For the world, it is approximately one year since the start of a global pandemic. As an individual who has miraculously been able to work throughout the pandemic and found ways to stay busy, February is also the Month of the Wall. Meaning, I feel like I hit a wall with everything in my life–my day job, my volunteer projects, creative writing, etc. None of this is helped along by winter weather. The snow is practically two feet high where I am and, as I write this, it is below zero in temperature. Cabin fever plus quarantine fever plus, if I’m going to be honest, a bit of relief related to the switch in American presidents. All I want to do right now is curl up with a book and get lost in some words I didn’t write.
If you’re feeling the same, here are my suggestions for comfort-like reads that will tuck your queer heart into a soft bed with softer blankets. Let’s get ready to hygge!
ON A SUNBEAM by Tillie Walden
I always think graphic novels are going to take me less time to read than a novel because I don’t have to spend one or two minutes looking at the illustrations. But that does a disservice to graphic novels because part of the marvel about them is the illustration. The illustrations for On a Sunbeam are not to be passed over from a quick scan. Following the story of heartbreak and healing, On a Sunbeam is lush with atmospheric lineart and soft colors I wouldn’t expect in a space opera. You can purchase the book or read it online. This was my introduction to Tillie Walden as a graphic novelist and artist, and I have her other books on by TBR pile.
THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang
Continuing this, The Prince and the Dressmaker is another graphic novel, but this time in a much more romantic period. Prince Sebastian is a lover of fashion, particularly women’s fashion, and he befriends dressmaker Frances with an amazing sense of style to make him lush dresses, which he uses in his disguise as a fashionista in Paris’s nightlife. This is a sweet graphic novel about learning to accept yourself, and the ending may or may not have had me in tears.
THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune
I finished this earlier this month for my book club. THitCS follows a government caseworker as he investigates an orphanage for magical children, all of whom are considered “extreme cases” but found a place of love and support under the tutelage of a man named Arthur Parnassus. While the book club agreed that the plot is a little flimsy, what made us fall for it was the characters and especially the children (I will die for Lucy). My friend described this book as a big, warm hug and that description is very on-the-nose. If you want to get metaphorically hugged by the wholesomeness presented here, read THitCS.
SILK AND STEEL: A QUEER SPECULATIVE ADVENTURE ANTHOLOGY edited by Janine A. Southard
I recently purchased this for myself because I am in love with ladies who wield swords, especially if they also woo other ladies. This is an anthology that caters specifically to me (but I am not alone in my love). The stories in this anthology are fantastical and adventurous; some are humorous, some are serious, and all feature diverse characters. At least one story features two transgender women, and it would not surprise me if more did the same (as of this writing, I have only read a handful of the tales). This is the book I pull out when I want a feel-good story before I fall asleep at night; it’s the perfect hygge book for a cold winter’s night.
CARRY ON / WAYWARD SON by Rainbow Rowell
A small digression: the book Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is about a fanfiction writer as she adjusts to her first year of college, while at the same time writing a multi-chapter fanfiction for that world’s version of Harry Potter. The name of that fanfiction is Carry On. Did Rainbow Rowell publish the fake fanfiction for her book? Yes, yes she did. Carry On follows Simon Snow in his final year at a magical school in England, where tensions in the magical world have come to a head and the final battle looms on the horizon. Full disclosure, I was not blown away by Carry On, but I have friends who were. For my friends, and for people looking for the comfort of fanfiction in a traditionally published novel, I present to you Carry On and its sequel Wayward Son. The third and final book of the series comes out July 2021.
What’s a book that has been a comfort for you this winter? Let me know in the comments!