Book Reviews

Books to read when you want a hug

The summer is coming to an end, which, I have to admit, is a bittersweet moment for me. On one hand, it means the summer heat is over, and I can yet again enjoy fluffy jumpers and jeans. On the other hand, autumn brings shorter, colder days, and, living in the UK, a lot of rain. Basically, those days when we don’t necessarily feel like going outside, and the opportunities to catch some Vitamin D are few and far between.

It’s also an absolutely perfect time for reading. When the weather is no longer amazing, I find that fewer things distract me. I’m a bit melancholic, often cold, reminiscing about the good summer days. It’s then that I am most likely to wrap myself tightly in a blanket, with a cup of tea or hot chocolate steaming by my side, sit propped up on a million pillows with a book or Kindle on my lap.

Today, I wanted to recommend to you a few books that will work absolutely perfectly in such a situation. Because, you know, there are books for the beach, there are books for happy moments, and then there are books for autumn.

(Funnily enough, I’m writing this with pouring rain as a background, even though it was nearly 30 degrees the day before)

The Harry Potter series – Joanne Kathleen Rowling

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If anyone knows where my Prisoner of Azkaban is, lemme know. Cause, you know, first edition and stuff

Ok, I know you have probably all read it. (If you haven’t, then stop reading this post and go read Harry Potter!) I love reading books I already know, especially when the weather is disgusting, because there are no surprises to be had, and I can simply sit down and enjoy. It’s kind of like hanging out with someone you’ve known your whole life – they’re unlikely to surprise you all that much, but you’ll still enjoy their presence because you’ve so many old memories.

Why Harry Potter, though? Because the magical world and crazy adventures of the trio will suck you right in and make you forget that it’s cold and raining and that you soon will be waking up in complete darkness. And a return to the childhood days is always welcome when you need a bit of a pick me up. Also, Harry Potter books are included in the Kindle Unlimited subscription, so you really have no reason not to read them, even if your actual books are a few thousands kilometres away. (I’m currently re-reading Goblet of Fire not he Kindle myself…)

War Brides – Helen Bryan 

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(It’s definitely a more girly book, so if you’re a decidedly male man, you might not enjoy it.)  September is a special time, when it’s hard to forget about the horrors of what has happened during the Second World War. It was September 1, 1939 when the German army entered Poland – yet it’s still with us, 77 years on, somewhere in the background, in the form of family stories and cities that no longer look the way they did a century ago.

This book takes you through the lives of five young women, some barely out of their teens, or not even that, during the time of war in England. The author shows us how, on one hand, those lives changed beyond recognition, but on the other, life has not stopped – there were still birthdays to celebrate and children to give birth to and feed. The book was written by an American lady who didn’t live through the war, nor does she know England well, so it is a little bit unrealistic and not all of the things described in the book could have happened. But it’s nonetheless a captivating, engaging, emotional read that will have you holding the mug to your lips and forgetting to take a sip.

Three Amazing Things About You – Jill Mansell 

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I should really just say ‘any book by Jill Mansell’, but that wouldn’t be fair cause she’s written over twenty. Even if you’re the most ardent fan, you might not manage 20+ books during autumn. I’ve read four of her books so far, and, with one exception (Solo, I just couldn’t get into it), they have all been fantastically heartwarming. They’re the type I call “a warm hug type of book”, with funny, relatable, human characters, that have interesting but not crazy stuff happening to them. Three Amazing Things About You is particularly emotional and gripping. From the very beginning I found myself in love with Hallie, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, but just won’t stop pushing through. I have to admit, Hallie’s story made me cry a good few times, but so did Flo’s and Tasha’s. In a way, it feels as if you were surrounded by good friends when you’re reading this book, which I’d say is particularly welcome when you’re all alone and it’s just a wall of rain outside your window.

The House at the End of Hope Street – Menna Van Praag

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This book is magical. Really. Hard to describe it with a different word. I absolutely loved it. It’s a story about women who somewhat lost their way in life, but they’re brought to the house at the end of Hope Street, which changes their lives. It’s an incredibly heartwarming, emotional, beautifully written book. I read it over a year ago, but it’s still with me, which doesn’t happen all that often. It makes you take a step back and think whether you’re on the right way in your life, or maybe you should change course. And if you love The House at the End of Hope Street, I strongly recommend you read Menna’s Men, Money and Chocolate. It’s her first book, a very personal one, and such a massive kick on the bum to get your life together and start pursuing your dreams, no matter what. Because you only live once. If you want to be inspired and moved, both of those will tick those boxes

Mad About the Boy – Maggie Alderson 

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Really, though, as with Jill Mansell, I should just say anything by Maggie Alderson. Her Handbags and Gladrags was one of the first books I ever read in English, so I’m definitely slightly sentimental about Maggie. Since then, I’ve read (and re-read more times than I care to remember) five of her books. And I absolutely loved them all, for how moving they are, how funny, and for the promise of a happy ending, no matter what.

I chose Mad About the Boy in particular today, because it’s my favourite one, and the one I re-read the most times. Antonia moves to Australia with her husband and barely a year passes before her husband drops a bomb on her – he’s gay and, well, he’s leaving her. The near-depression that follows is very real and relatable, making Antonia a lovable character, but who you’ll love even more is her husband’s uncle who comes to Australia, like a guardian angel, to save Antonia. This book will have you laughing, feeling emotional and maybe even shedding a tear or two. And once you’re done, you’ll definitely want more Maggie.


These are my 5 choices for autumn 2016, some of which I might dip into again myself (see: Harry Potter). If you go with any of my recommendations, let me know if you liked them. And if you have any yourself, I’m always on a lookout for new books to read (who cares that my Kindle is bursting in the seams…).

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