The daily scrolls of pandemic news and graphs amidst these times of isolation have us reaching for any books that remind us of hugs—of an embrace of love and goodness. We asked our writers to contribute what books they turn to for that warm, fuzzy feeling. Perhaps you'll find something here to pick up when you're feeling low during quarantine.
Stay safe, friends. What books feel like hugs to you?
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Sometimes it is nice to pick up stories you read as a child to be reminded of easier times. I find when I am anxious, I calm myself down by revisiting things that used to comfort me. Because of Winn-Dixie is such a sweet, pleasant story. The writing is accessible but also allows for an escape. Sometimes you need to reread one of your favorite childhood books to remind you that life as an adult does not need to be as scary as we make it out to be. I know people are scared right now, but stay inside and open a comforting book and this soon shall pass. — Maggie
Dream Work by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver makes you so happy and grateful to be alive. Her poems make you feel less alone in a world that sometimes feels overbearing. Reading this outside is a dream and when you’re reading it, it feels like her hand is restings softly on your shoulder and she’s smiling, guiding your eyes to a sunset you’re not going to want to miss. Remember: social distancing does not mean cutting yourself off from the sunshine. Mary Oliver’s words whisper to you that your place is so small in the world and you should suck every moment of joy out of the world while you can because it will continue turning long after you are gone. — Maggie
Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter
At first glance, the topic of this book might not seem too heart-warming, but as the novella progresses, you begin to find immeasurable doses of love in the details. Porter blends together so many literary forms—myth, magic, wonder, poetry, short story, language, make-believe, grief—with a giant, looming meta-fictional crow acting as the narrator for most of the story. Porter captures the uncanny way children often respond to loss, and how the boys of the story, in turn, start to help their father cope with his grief, in a way that is heartbreaking and beautiful. We are never quite offered a full explanation for the appearance of the giant crow or the collusion between father and sons as to his existence. Imaginary or real? Sometimes it's best not to know. — Elaine
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
As the title suggests—love lies deep at the heart of this book, in all its variations including loss, longing, grief, the love between family, first love, old love, forgotten love, unrequited love. Krauss poignantly and succinctly conveys all of these experiences with humour and tenderness. While the experiences of the characters are planted firmly in reality, Krauss weaves in a little fairy tale magic that we all would perhaps like to be a part of the reality of loving and losing the people we care about. Since finishing this book I have been forcing it on to anyone I can think of to read it. Heartbreaking and warming at the same time, this is a book that will restore your faith in the power of love to leave deep imprints across a lifeline. No matter what form it takes. — Elaine
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Yoshimoto has an impeccable ability to create beautiful, dream-like narratives, that leave your heart full. Kitchen is a gentle and comforting book, exploring themes of grief, acceptance, love, friendship, and the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of life’s toughest challenges. Kitchen will leave your heart glowing and the deep need to tell the ones you love how wonderful they are. — Elaine
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I’m surprised this book took me so long to get to. I’ve been a HUGE Jodi Picoult fan since high school, but I’ll admit, sometimes her plots get a little formulaic. That so wasn’t the case with Leaving Time. It makes you examine the importance of family and what their presence means in life. It tells the unflappable perseverance of a teenage girl in search of the truth about her mother. And what she gets is a truth she never saw coming. — Melissa
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
Jennifer Weiner is one of my favorite authors of all time. In Little Earthquakes, main characters Lia, Becky, Kelly and Ayinde are all first-time mothers and Weiner (as a mother herself) writes their experiences as beyond real. Becky admits her baby really isn’t that cute for the first couple of months. Ayinde’s son has a health scare. Becky has money troubles, and Lia has skeletons in her closet. With this one, you’ll laugh and cry—but by the end, you’ll be emotionally invested in these characters for sure. — Melissa
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Rich language, magical vibes, and a bit of escapism. An ode to the power and beauty of books and a love letter to bookworms across the globe, this is a literary hug cloaked in a bright, mood-lifting cover. I absolutely adored this beautiful little novel. — Nikki
The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen
I picked this book up knowing absolutely nothing about it and upon reading it, it became a fast favourite. Glen touches on individuality, difference, familial love and the power it holds, romantic love, and loss. It is a beautiful novel that feels like a reassurance to everyone who has always felt a little bit different, that it is okay to be different. It is a novel that highlights life, existence and experience makes you whole, and you are not less than due to the bad parts of that existence. Glen allows us to watch how Augusta Hope travels through life, experiencing all the things that ultimately make her whole. — Courtney
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I read this right as we went into isolation and social distancing and I truly believe it is why I have been so calm—even through being dumped and losing my job all in the same week. It is calming, empowering, and comforting. It makes you really believe that you can get through anything. If you are lonely, questioning your faith, trying not to cry, and just trying to get through this... this book is for you. — Maggie
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The overwhelming sense of family and love is so comforting in this book. There is a little woman for everyone to relate to and you can’t help but just feel so warmly embraced by the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy. (Also the movie is basically Greta Gerwig giving us all a hug). — Courtney
A MAN CALLED OVE BY FREDRIK BACKMAN
I have given over 10 copies of this book to friends and family over the last 5 or so years, with ages ranging from 17 to 76. It is my go-to recommendation for when anyone needs a hug. A grumpy old man turns out not to be so grumpy after all, just missing a piece of himself. - PL
DINNER WITH EDWARD BY ISABEL VINCENT
Food brings me comfort, I relax by looking through recipes and I am happiest when cooking for friends and family. I routinely throw dinner parties (extremely last minute) but unlike Edward, I don't like to plan, I come up with my menus seconds before I start cooking and only after I line up all the random ingredients that I have acquired. Each chapter of this enchanting memoir of a journalist's serendipitous friendship with the 93 year old father of a friend starts with an intricately designed menu, accompanied by a precise alcoholic pairing that compliments the courses. I promise it will warm up your insides just as well as one of his bourbon cocktails.
Top tip: hidden within its pages you will find an excellent (and ingeniously low admin) martini recipe.