4 of the Best Warm Hug Books

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P.N. Hinton

Contributing Editor

Born into a family of readers, P.N. gained a love reading as a sort of herd mentality. This love of reading has remained a life long passion, resulting in an English Degree from The University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She normally reads three to four books at any given time, in the futile Sisyphean hope of whittling down her ever growing to be read pile of no specific genre.

Recently my book club selected The House in the Cerulean Sea as our monthly pick. Because of the hype surrounding it, I’ll admit that I was a bit apprehensive picking it up. I’ve read hyped books before and been severely disappointed. So, I always approach with caution. But the one who recommended it said it was like a “warm hug,” so we all jumped on it because let’s face it…after 2020 and the way 2021 started, warm hug books are something that we could all use.

And that description was completely and utterly accurate. As I read it, I felt this warm bubble of happiness release inside me. Everything about the book evoked all the emotions in me and I enjoyed every page

Everything about this book stuck with me. How Linus fully came into his own personality and realized that he was somebody. The slow burn romance between Linus and Arthur. And the development of the relationship between the kids and him. 

It warms my heart on so many levels when kids instinctively hold my hand when they’re scared. Linus being so protective of the kids before he even fully realized it was inspiring to read; this is one of the best found family books I’ve ever read.

After reading the book, I got to thinking about what can constitute a comfort read. Since this is dependent on the person, the definition can be fluid. For example, one of my closest friends uses horror for their comfort reads while I use them to be scared. So, it’s very much to each their own.

For me, comfort reads are the books that sit with me for a really long time. Not all of them are one hundred percent happy. In fact, most have some tinge of bittersweetness. That tends to make it more real, though, which only serves to add to my love for them, which is why one of my go-to recommended YA comfort reads is The Field Guide to the North American Teenager.

Below are a few more books that come to mind when I think of a comfort read. These books are ones that stayed with me for a considerable amount of time after I closed them for the last time. They’re spread across a variety of genres and there is no real rhyme or reason to them; they just made me smile at the time and still do when I think on them.

Layover by Katrina Jackson

I’ve mentioned this before and I’m sure a lot of people are wondering how can I wax so poetically about something that is essentially a novella. But y’all, the fact that I talk so much about it is telling enough. I found this book as a freebie late one night while scrolling through Twitter. It was on March 17 of last year, which means I was in the middle of my week off and about to start what would be a year of basically being shut inside my apartment. And the premise just drew me in.

At the time I read it I had experienced three back-to-back deaths in my family: my aunt in November of 2019, my father-in-law in January of 2020, and my brother at the beginning of March. So, I was dealing with a lot of grief. Reading how travel blogger Lena was going through that as well and how she was processing it helped me. I also enjoyed the well-written desire between her and Tony. While it was always present, it never fully took over the story since it seemed to be more about the exploration of her grief. And they had a very pleasant HFN. I will always recommend this book. 

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

It wasn’t just the slow burn friends to lovers romance that Rachel and Henry went through that fueled my love here. This book had all the catnip for me. It takes place in a bookstore, it deals with the grieving process really well, and it talks about the various scribblings people leave in books. I enjoyed the idea of the stories behind people who use to own books, especially if they left notes in them. It doesn’t matter if it was to someone else or themselves; it’s still a mystery that one can’t help but try to unfold. I picked this up just expecting to be entertained, but ended up falling head over heels in love with the story. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This is another one that just worked its way into my heart and took root. College is a scary place and it’s very rare that the media captures that. I also think that is one of the reasons that the fourth season of Buffy is one of my favorites, because the first few episodes focus on how it feels to move from high school to college and the uncertainty around where you fall.

While I’m not a huge fan of Rowell’s other YA books, this one was different. It is likely due to it taking place in college — books like that are like catnip to me. I felt like Cath when I went to college, especially during the period of time I fell out with my roommate. Awkward. Alone. An outcast. And seeing Cath slowly come out of her self-made cocoon and find her place was inspiring to read. Plus, I would have loved to have met a Levi my freshmen year of college.

A Prince on Paper cover

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

This is the last book in Alyssa’s Reluctant Royal series and, while the others in the series are amazing, this one is my comfort read. I think it has a lot to do with how much of a cinnamon roll Johan is and how far is he willing to go to protect his brother. That kind of sibling love is not something I’m used to seeing in romances. More often, it is more of a controlling factor whereas Johan genuinely wants his brother to have as normal a life as he can. I cheered when reading about Nya discovering her inner strength after years of being held down. And that these two find their own happily ever after on their own? It’s just awesome.

Those are just a few of the books that I read that I would classify as comfort reads. Are any of these on your list or ones you would want to add?