Lately, it’s been hard for me to pick up books that are too heavy. All I want to do is escape into feel-good fictional worlds, since the real world is still a trash heap and continues to get worse every day. I think we could all use a hug right now. So today I’m recommending to you six books that feel like a hug.
What does “feels like a hug” mean anyway? For me, it’s one of those things that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you read it. It’s the feeling when you’re reading that the book is wrapping you up in its pages and telling you it’s going to be okay. It might be a little sad, a little bittersweet, but it always leaves you feeling better than before. Since many of us can’t actually hug all the people we want to, I hope these books can act as a nice (though hopefully short-lived) replacement.
Oh, and before we go on, reminder that you should go vote in the 2020 Book Blogger Awards! Your girl is nominated for Best Adult Blogger and Best Recommendations, and I would love your vote. ❤ Although the other bloggers nominated for those categories are amazing so tbh it’s a win-win all around. Voting is open until this Sunday, August 16th!)
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
This is the book that inspired this post, since every time I think about it, I can feel my heart growing ten sizes. It follows Linus, a social worker sent to check on a remote orphanage full of supposedly dangerous magical children. If you like the sound of found family, realistically written kids, standing up to authoritarian rule, and love in every form, then this is the book for you. I literally cried my way through the ending, not because it’s sad, but because I had never been happier.
(In fact, on my staff recommendation at work, I even say that this book feels like a hug, and a customer who bought it later told me that it’s the perfect description. So if you don’t trust me, trust them. 😉)
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
The combination of that title and that cover should make this an obvious choice. This book follows a nonbinary teen named Ben who is kicked out of their parents’ home when they come out. Moving in with their older sister, they are forced to start over at a new school. Even though this book certainly deals with tough subjects like transphobia, anxiety, and unsupportive parents, it’s all handled with such care that it never (in my opinion) feels overwhelming. The best word I have to describe this book is soft, because it’s so full of bittersweet hope and healing.
Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour
This book comes out in only a month, get excited! (My review is like 85% written — I promise I’ll post it soon!) I really could include almost any of Nina LaCour’s books on this list, but this one feels most like a hug to me. It follows a girl named Mila who leaves the foster care system and goes to work at a farm by the sea, taking care of other foster kids. Character-focused and atmospheric, and with a hint of fabulism, it follows Mila’s journey of finding a home for the first time. Although this book also touches on heavier topics like abuse and trauma, it’s all about recovery and found family, and the beautiful writing turns even the simplest things into moments of beauty.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Who would I be if I didn’t include Heartstopper in a recommendations post?? So in case you somehow didn’t already know, this is a webcomic-turned-graphic novel series following two teen boys, Nick and Charlie. They become friends at school, then gradually grow to become more than friends as their relationship deepens. Everything about this graphic novel is sweet and heartfelt and heartwarming. Nick and Charlie — and really all of the characters — are so supportive of each other, which is so lovely to see in a book about teenagers. I don’t know how to read these books without smiling the whole way through.
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
No, I’m not going to shut up about this book until more people read it, and that is a promise. This middle grade book follows Fig, a sixth grade with a bipolar, single dad, as they struggle to keep their family together under the threat of child protective services and her dad’s strange fascination with hurricanes. It’s really all about this father-daughter relationship, which is the most heartwarming thing. Their love for each other is so clear, even when they both mess up over and over. I’m pretty sure I actually hugged this book to my chest while I was reading it, so if that’s not enough to convince you that reading this book feels like a hug, I don’t know what will.
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
Not only does this book feel like a hug, but it’s such a soft and comforting hug that it stays with you long after it’s done. It’s been months and I still haven’t stopped thinking about this book. Following two girls, Ryann and Alexandria, who reluctantly become friends as they sit on a roof listening for radio signals from Alexandria’s astronaut mother, this book is quiet and character-focused and lovely. And there’s a whole cast of wonderful side characters and lots of found family feelings! Not to mention it has one of the most perfect endings I’ve ever read. In conclusion: read this book.
You might have noticed that I included links to Bookshop for all of these books! In case you didn’t know, Bookshop is an online bookseller that supports independent bookstores. I recently set up my own affiliate shop and will hopefully be updating it frequently, so maybe go check that out? Sadly, it is US-only at the moment.
What books have you read that feel like a hug? Have you read any of these or do you want to?