10 books to snuggle with in November
Stripes Europe October 31, 2023
As the year comes to an end in the cold month of November, curling up with a hot mug of coffee or tea and reading some historical fiction and cozy fantasy books sounds quite comforting. Here are ten book recommendations to snuggle into.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer (2008) (Historical Fiction) (WWII)
This novel is a quick read written in the epistolary format, an exchange of letters between two comfort characters Juliet and Dawsey. It provides a close look at the effects the German occupation had on the small island of Guernsey just off the coast of England during World War II. The heart of this book is love for reading and the tender and even unlikely friendships that can persevere even during hardship.
“Peony in Love” by Lisa See (2007) * (Historical Fiction) (Romance) (Thriller) (17th-Century China) *Warning: Mentions suicide*
In 17th-century China where arranged marriages were non-negotiable, Peony, a young girl is set to be married soon. She romanticizes the Peony Pavilion, an opera in which she identifies with the entrapment of the main character. Her ideas of love transcend into the afterlife. This story is heavily researched, based on true events, and ties together rich traditions, mythology, longing, and Chinese history.
“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly (2016) (Historical Fiction) (WWII)
Lilac Girls is inspired by actual events and memories of women who suffered through Ravensbrück, a notorious women’s concentration camp during World War II where medical experiments were performed. It weaves together the perspectives of three women, Caroline, a New York socialite, Herta, a German doctor, and Kasia a Polish teenager. This take creates an intimate and wide-scoped look into a lesser-known history and highlights the bravery of women coming together.
“North Woods” by Daniel Mason (2023) (Historical Fiction) (Colonial America)
A unique, genre-bending historical fiction where the past is very much alive. This novel is set in a lone cabin in the woods in New England, where a couple soon discovers stories of the inhabitant’s history from over the last century. This includes an English soldier who abandons battles over the New World, sisters who survive war and famine, a crime reporter, a painter and more. This is a fascinating multi-perspective read.
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak (2005) (Historical Fiction) (WWII)
If you haven’t read it for school when learning about World War II, this is a must as it is told from a unique perspective, the narrator is Death. Death compassionately follows Liesel’s story, a young girl growing up in Germany during the war whose family is sheltering Max, a talented artist and Jewish man. Through Death’s lens, readers experience Liesel’s tragedies and the hope that she is able to find and instill in others through stealing books meant to be burned and teaching herself to read.
“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (2015) (Fantasy) (Time Travel)
The first in a series, this book is told from multiple perspectives and is set in a cozy magical coffee shop where customers can travel back in time with a few conditions that must be followed. It’s an endearing, short, read that emphasizes that although circumstances may not be changed, outcomes and perspective can be.
“Midnight at the Blackbird Café” by Heather Webber (2019) (Fantasy) (Magical Realism)
Anna Kate is bequeathed the famous Blackbird Café from her deceased grandmother. While she is faced with the decision to keep the café or sell and resume her old life, she discovers the southern charm of the town and people, and just how meaningful the magical blackbird pie is to everyone. This is a book where the magical elements and lore felt believable and the protagonist felt like a friend.
“Legends and Lattes” by Travis Baldree (2022) (Fantasy) (LGTB) (Romance)
This book has vastly popularized the “Cozy Fantasy” genre. It is a low-stakes story of a retired, battle-experienced Orc named Viv who simply wants to open the first coffee shop in the town of Thune. It has unique and loveable Dungeons and Dragons-inspired characters, some trials and tribulations, and even features a very delicious recipe from the story in the back.
“The Cat who Saved Books” by Sôsuke Natsukawa (2021) (Fantasy) (Magical Realism)
A cozy fantasy made for book lovers as it is set in a bookshop. Rintaro Natsuki’s grandfather has just died, and he finds himself drawn to his grandfather’s bookshop where a talking cat needs his help on a magical quest to save imprisoned books. His journey involves friendship, courage, facing grief and realizing power that comes from loving books.
“The Tea Dragon Society” by Kay O’Neill (2017) (Fantasy) (Graphic Novel) (Middle Grade/Young Adult) (LGTB)
A light and charming read. This is catered more toward middle-grade readers, but adults who love fantasy and dragons might love it as well. This book has lovely artwork and follows Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who struggles with memory loss as she meets unique individuals all while trying to care for a tea dragon. And if you can’t get enough of the cuteness of tea dragons and the world, it is part of a trilogy.