Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! The holiday season can be a stressful time, and many find the weeks following them to be depressing in the northern hemisphere. Cold weather, limited sunlight, and this year’s addition of social distancing and lockdowns make for difficult times.

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Lately, I’ve seen a lot of Twitter threads and TikTok trends about comforting things: shows, characters, objects, clothing, etc. I got to thinking about some of the things I find comforting, and since I’m a librarian and book blogger, one of the first things I thought of were my comfort reads. I reread at least one of these books, in whole or in part, every year when I am in need of some escape or want to revisit a favorite character.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I first read Ella Enchanted when I was nine. My grandmother had passed away a few months earlier, and while I always had loved reading, this was when I discovered I could escape into books. That year I also read Harry Potter for the first time. And while I love Harry PotterElla Enchanted remains a consistent reread of mine. While it is a children’s book, I still enjoy it as an adult and I discover something new about it every time I read it. Ella Enchanted is a flip on the original Cinderella story with a spunky heroine who has been cursed to be obedient. Whenever she is given an order, she must obey it. Ella is such a memorable character and the prince, who I still think is super dreamy, admires how smart and opinionated she is.

You can read my full review, from my most recent reread earlier this year, here.

The Morning Gift and A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

I first read these books in college and they were a gateway drug into the historical romance subgenre for me. While these books use the “camera fades to black” method for love scenes, the emotional part of the romance packs such a punch. Both feature a hero and heroine falling in love against all odds during WWII in Europe, and both take place in a school setting. I love all of this author’s romance writings, but these two are just so emotionally satisfactory for me. There’s so much pain and yearning before our characters get their happily ever after, and I love the character tropes in these: brilliant, sunshiney women and brilliant, broody men.

The Morning Gift features a young Jewish woman marrying her father’s colleague to flee Austria with no one else the wiser. She arrives in England as a refugee with the intention of procuring an annulment at some point, but to make matters more complicated, her husband winds up being her college professor.



A Song for Summer is about an English woman teaching at an incredibly eccentric school in Austria. She falls in love with the grumpy groundskeeper, who turns out to be a renowned musician. However, the start of WWII threatens their relationship. The characters of the children are just as lovely as the love interests in this one, and it’s so rewarding to watch them grow up.


The Tea Rose trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly

Oh my gosh, this trilogy! I think I read it for the first time in my junior and senior year of college, and I have definitely reread the first two multiple times and the third one probably once. (The third one is still great. The storyline resonates with me more now than when I was younger.) It follows a family over the course of many years, from the 1880s through WWI. There is such a rich plot to each novel and we see multiple characters’ POVs, but at its heart these books are love stories. The sex scenes are steamy and there is always so much the characters must go through before they find their happily ever after, which makes it that much more rewarding.

The Tea Rose is largely Fiona’s story. Fiona is the eldest sibling, living in Whitechapel. She has always loved her neighbor, Joe, and they plan to marry one day, but a string of events involving Jack the Ripper and her father’s journey to unionize his coworkers leads to a complete upending of her family’s lives as they know it. Fiona journeys to New York with her brother Seamie and seeks to fulfill at least part of her life’s dream, even if she can’t be with Joe: opening her own shop. She gets so much more than she bargained for.

The Winter Rose is one I can’t give too much away for without spoiling the first book… But it features India, one of the first women doctors in England. While working in poor communities, she meets gangster Sid Malone. She realizes that he is so much more than she thought and looking out for the best interests of his community. The two fall in love against all odds, but circumstances separate them. India’s journey brings her all the way to Africa over the course of many years.

The Wild Rose is the final book in the trilogy and focuses on Seamie’s love story amidst the backdrop of early WWI. Seamie’s story was initially featured in The Winter Rose when he fell in love with his friend Willa while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with her, but she is injured in the process, an event that changes the outcome of what could have been between them.


AHH, these books are so intense and so good. I have to reread them ASAP.

The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day

Finally, we have The Stranger I Married, which was the first historical erotic romance I read that leaned heavily towards the erotic end of the spectrum while still honoring the love story in such a beautiful way. A lot of times when I read romantic erotica, I don’t connect with the characters as much as I do with Sylvia Day’s works. The Stranger I Married is not perfect, but something about it just sparks my interest every time.

The book is about Pel, a widow who always has long term relationships, but never wants to remarry (she likes to keep herself at a distance), and Grey, her younger friend who is in love with and carrying on an affair with a married women, so he has no desire to marry another woman. Because of their similar relationship issues, they decide to marry in name only. But when Grey’s love interest dies in childbirth with his son, he’s devastated and goes off the radar for a few years. When he returns, Pel hardly knows him, and despite her desire never to become completely sexually enthralled by a man again – not since her awful experience with her first husband – the two can’t help but be drawn to one another.

You can read my full review, from my most recent reread earlier this year, here.

These books are all ones I return to time and time again. They all feature something central: a great love story. (And yet again, even though I come across as pretty cold-hearted about love IRL, I’m proved to be a hopeless romantic.) I love falling into these excellent stories, no matter when I first read them, again and again.

What books do you find comfort in?