Books That Feel Like a Hug

Indy Book Club Suggests Feel-Good Titles for January’s Theme

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There’s nothing quite like hugging our loved ones. A hug from my grandma, for instance, reminds me that I am loved unconditionally and fills me with warmth. Our new reality, however, is a hug desert. 

So for the new year of our Indy Book Club, a community reading collaboration with the Santa Barbara Public Library, we are bringing you some stories to fill your joy coffers just a little bit more. Here are some recommendations on our January theme, “Books That Feel Like a Hug.”

The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers: These are, by far, my most recommended books. Becky Chambers’s feel-good sci-fi books are a delight to read. The first book in the series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, follows the motley crew of a working spaceship as they make their way to their biggest gig yet. Chambers’s universe is unwaveringly accepting, kind, and good. 

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier: This novel follows the real historical friendship of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, a couple of lady fossil hunters in Victorian England. Although there is some sadness in this one, a good friendship story never fails to warm my cockles.

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman: This is the gold standard of warm-hug-reads. Read these three books, then watch the TV show on HBO and decide which is better. 

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry: The 1989 Danvers, Massachusetts, field hockey team is not very good, but when Mel Boucher finds a book about witchcraft in the school library, the girls decide to take fate into their own hands. This is a delightful romp filled with late ’80s pop-culture references and New England vibes. You’ll close the book and be so glad you spent time with each of the characters. 

Figuring by Maria Popova: For nonfiction lovers, this beautiful piece of literature is unlike any history book I’ve read before. Author of the well-known blog Brain Pickings, Popova follows the personal lives of a few different figures throughout history. Beginning with Johannes Kepler and ending with Rachel Carson and following many (mostly women, mostly queer) people in between, Popova weaves together the story of how love has impacted the ways in which humanity has searched for truth and meaning throughout time. Sometimes sad, but always beautiful, this book will fill your cup.

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