by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
I wouldn't necessarily call myself the coziest of readers—I'm often drawn to pretty angsty stuff. But around this time of year, a little coziness seems called for.
Ashley and I offered a few recommendations for cozy reads we loved in our most recent episode. Here are a few more books to consider if you're in the mood to curl up with a blanket and a good book—these are books that even I reveled in.
Martha Waters's The Regency Vows Trilogy
I have been loving Martha Waters's The Regency Vows trilogy (full disclosure: I've read books one and three, but book two is on my TBR). Here's my review of book one:
Martha Waters's To Have and to Hoax (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) is a joy. Normally, I'm not a fan of the whole hoaxing trope. I get REALLY impatient with people lying to each other or fooling each other or misunderstanding each other and that ONE thing keeping them apart for the length of the story . . . until the truth is revealed and everything is solved! Fortunately, this historical romance avoids the more annoying parts of that plotline. Violet and James meet in the preface--Violet is in the midst of her first season (we're in Regency England here!) and is danced out on to the balcony without a chaperone, making her ripe for ruin and scandal. James swoops in, thinking to save her, and ends up being in the compromised position with her instead . . . and so he proposes. The rest of the book takes places four years after their marriage. They've been in a cold war since a fight ended their bliss (it takes most of the book before we learn what the fight was about). Now, they live "together," separate in all but name and household. Then, there's an accident that breaks through the cold and incites fury and anger again, and it's this new feeling that changes the course of their relationship. Violet decides to perpetrate a hoax in the name of revenge, and the aftermath has a huge impact on the couple and their friends.
I thoroughly enjoyed To Have and to Hoax. I loved the fact that Waters resisted the easy path here and created instead a complex, honest (ha!) relationship that required courage and vulnerability to repair. Up to the end (no spoilers, I promise!), the author works toward a relationship that is honest and true AFTER the happily ever after that ends so many books. This is a remarkable debut!
Kerry Winfrey's Books
Kerry Winfrey is one of my favorite authors of closed-door romance. Recently, I enjoyed her book Just Another Love Song, but I think my favorite of hers is Very Sincerely Yours (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), which is about the producer of a children's show and a woman who works at a toy store. They meet up through a series of emails that Theodora sends to Everett on a whim, and their relationship takes off from there. It's such a sweet read!
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women
Little Women (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) is one of those books that always seems fresh. Whether you've read it before and are meeting up again with an old friend or embracing it for the first time, Little Women will warm your heart. Here's my review from back in 2019:
I haven't read Little Women for a loooong time--high school? middle school?--and decided to re-read (via Scribd) before the new movie comes out. I had maintained some familiarity with the source material because I taught, for years, Geraldine Brooks's March, a modern novel detailing the events of the original book from the perspective of Mr. March while he was away from his family. Brooks combines her knowledge of Louisa May Alcott's original, which was quite autobiographical, with details from Alcott's own family and life. As part of our unit, I showed the film version starring Winona Ryder and Claire Danes, which I loved. But I had forgotten just how much the film left out. It was, therefore, a revelation to read the book again. (SPOILERS AHEAD) It contains, of course, the famous scenes: Amy burning Jo's book, Jo selling her hair for her father, Beth's illness and eventual death, Meg's various revelations about her vanity . . . and, of course, Laurie's ill-fated proposal. But there's much more character development, and so many scenes I'd forgotten entirely about. There's also a LOT of story that exists, in the movie, in the chasm of a time jump. This one is well worth revisiting, and I am SO looking forward to watching the new film. I'd also recommend the book on audio--I listened to the version narrated by Kate Reading, and her interpretation was beautiful.
L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables
We read Anne of Green Gables (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) last November as our Book Club pick, and that's a book that never gets old for me. There are certain moments that are just eternal: Anne's green hair, Gilbert saving her after she takes "The Lady of Shalott" a little too seriously, puffed sleeves! Check out our episode here.
Stanley Tucci's Taste: My Life through Food
While I'm definitely not a foodie, I absolutely loved Tucci's memoir. Here's my review:
I don't really cook, and cookbooks aren't my thing, but I do love reading about food. Stanley Tucci's memoir Taste: My Life through Food (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) does contain recipes, but it also considers the way Tucci's life and family are often characterized by food. Tucci reads this audiobook, which I listened to via Scribd, and I definitely recommend that format. His reading makes the humor and affection that characterize his stories about his Italian family shine, and I loved hearing the way Tucci describes the careful process of choosing and cooking his favorite meals. As he tells the story of food, of course, he also tells of his life and his career. As great a storyteller as he is an actor, Tucci's sense of brilliant, vivid scenes is just a joy to read. Or listen to.
Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club
"Eventually I came to realize that the greatest gift of our book club was that it gave me time and opportunity to ask her things, not tell her things."
"You should tell your family every day that you love them. And make sure they know that you’re proud of them too."
Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) was—despite its title—a heart-warming and uplifting reading experience. Schwalbe describes the informal book club that he and his mom, Mary Anne Schwalbe, formed in the two years after her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and leading up to her death. Knowing, from the beginning, what her fate would be seems a horrible way to begin the book, but it's seeing what Mary Anne (and her family) choose to do with that time that's so beautiful. She's a brilliant woman who has been dedicated to service her entire life, and Schwalbe himself is working through his own life, the lessons that he wants to take from his mom and what he wants to tell her while she's alive. It's a beautiful, moving book, and for book lovers, it articulates just why books can be such an important part of our lives, the ways that working together to understand them, to share opinions, praise, and even critiques can help us to know others better, to think about our world, and to consider just who we are and want to be.
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