There’s no denying that the festive season is great. With it’s presents and joy, family and friends, over eating and inevitable collapsing in front of the TV to watch hours of christmas specials and movies that, for some reason, you only watch during the holiday season, despite you claiming them to be some of your ‘all time favourites’. But for a lot of people, with Christmas and New Year, this season is incredibly hard, emotionally, physically and mentally. Christmas is also something a large amount of people simply don’t celebrate! Therefore, amongst all the Christmas recommendations currently being shared, I thought I would share with you some book recommendations that I personally feel have the potential to, possibly, help in some way if you’re someone that finds this season difficult. I have a few that cover mental health, as I know that is specifically something that can be specifically hard to live with during this time of the year. I also have a few that are total escapism, almost ‘anti Christmas’ reads to take you mind of things and a sprinkle with a Christmassy feel to them, that may just give you a momentary boost of excitement or ‘Festive Spirit’. So here are a few of my ‘Not Quite Christmas’ Book Recommendations…
This lightly features Christmas but it also feels like a hug in book form. It follows Cath, who suffers with social anxiety and just started her first year of University. It’s a book that means a huge amount to me and is one of my all time favourites. It’s full of adorable, funny and extremely relatable moments and some of my favourite bookish relationships, in the romantic, friendship and family sense. December is typically a very social time of year, so I have a feeling a lot of people will be able to relate to Cath, her social anxiety and her love of fiction and hopefully it might make you feel a little less alone in it all.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall.
Following Norah who suffers with Agrophobia, OCD, Anxiety and Depression. This is one of my favourite, if not my favourite, books of 2016. (Click here to read my full, very gushy review…) Again, if you struggle with any of these things, it’s very possible that this time of year is going to be that bit harder. Under Rose-Tainted Skies is one of the most comforting, heartwarming, hopeful books I’ve read surrounding mental illness and I honestly couldn’t recommend it more highly. If you’re looking for a fantastic insight into mental illness, a main character that’s fighting to regain her life but having fighting herself to get that, plus, a ‘make your heart feel all giddy and happy’ romance, this is 100% the book for you. It doesn’t sugar coat mental illness, so I will put a trigger warning out there but, in my opinion, it in no way over dramatises, stigmatises or uses Norah’s struggles for anything other than telling a story that I’m very happy was told.
On a total different side of the scale to my two previous recommendations but none the less fantastic, I have Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Dangerous Girls is a physiological thriller that is impossible to forget (trust me, I read it over a year ago and almost think about it on a weekly basis…) It’s another book that is possibly up there in amongst my all time favourites and one I don’t think I ever have, or ever will stop talking about or recommending. The reason I’m recommending this in this situation, is simply because it’s almost impossible to think of anything other than this book whilst you’re reading it. I know that might seem overdramatic, especially considering the theme of this blog post but trust me, you won’t be able to put it down. I might only immediately take your mind of things for a little while (honestly, you won’t be able to put it down. It will be read and done almost as quickly as you picked it up, it’s really that intense and good) but it will linger on your mind for a long time coming and be a fantastic distraction, even if only for a while, from other things/events over the next few weeks.
Magic, Princess’s, Pirates and Baking, what more could you possibly want in a book? Bakers Magic is undeniably one of the cutest books I’ve read this year and, again, definitely up there amongst my favourites. It has has that classic fairytale, escapism feel to it and as a Middle Grade, gave me a nostalgic feeling, that very much reminded me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place. It has a gorgeous storyline following family and friendship, whilst also having all the adventure and magic you could wish for. Despite being a middle grade, I continuously find myself wanting to talk about Bakers Magic and recommend it to anyone and everyone. Reading this put me in such a good mood and helped cheer me up when I needed it, so I hope it might be able to do the same for others.
Another of my two top reads from 2016. Described as a modern day Romeo and Juliette retelling, this was fantastic. It features one of my favourite YA female friendships and another of my biggest ‘ships’ of the year. It’s gripping, romantic, page-turning and both heartbreaking and heart pounding. I loved both books. Plus, the third and final book in the trilogy is coming out in January 2017, which gives you something to look forward to over the holidays, once you’ve finished the first two books, because I promise, once you’ve started, you won’t be able to stop. It’s killed me having to wait a whole year for the third book…
A token Christmassy book. And yes, this is very christmassy and one of my favourites. A book set in New York, during Christmas, following a guy and a girl on a scavenger hunt around the city through books?! It’s utterly adorable, utterly christmassy and 100% my ultimate dream. If you’re not looking forward to Christmas but are looking for something that might help put you in a more christmassy mood, I don’t think there is a better book to read than this. It couldn’t be more adorable and christmassy if it tried. (I’m not sure I’ll ever, type the word ‘christmassy’ more than I have whilst describing this book!) If you have already read this, the sequel ‘The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily’ was just released!
If your brain is a little full right now and you’re struggling to focus fully on a novel during this time of the year, a short story collection might be perfect? I love dipping in and out of anthologies, especially when I’m in a reading slump or my minds a little busy. I recently read A Tyranny of Petticoats and loved it. It’s a collection of YA short stories, all written by women, including Marissa Meyer and Marie Lu, following different, awesome, females throughout history. All of the stories are set in the USA from 1710 to 1968. It’s a widely diverse collection with both a variety of different stories and settings and also characters with different backgrounds, sexualities and ethnicities, which is one of the main reasons I enjoyed it so much because each story was refreshingly unique and always different to the last! My top favourite stories were The Colour of the Sky by Elizabeth Wein, Pearls by Beth Revis, The Legendary Garrett Sisters by Y.S. Lee and Bonnie and Clyde by Saundra Mitchell.
These are all books I personally absolutely loved and I hope you will too, if you decide to pick them up! I’d love to know what you think of any of these books, if you have read or do decide read any of them! I know books can’t fix everything but sometimes they can be just what you need for a little while. With that being said, however you feel about this season and whether or not you celebrate Christmas or the New Year, look after your self over the next few weeks and I really hope you have a fantastic end to 2016.