Summer 2022 Holiday Reads Written by Women

Summer 2022 Holiday Reads Written by Women

Whether you’re jetting off to an exotic location or staying home this summer, you’ll want some books to get your teeth into.

I don’t know about you, but my reading tastes change in the summer. I want books that are easy to read – no heavy tomes. I want to be immersed. I want to be entertained. So, that is what you will find on this list. Some are new, some are older, all are perfect for lounging by the pool with a cocktail, reclining on the grass in the park (or, of course, sitting in a cool, shady room wishing for winter).

I didn’t plan for them all to be written by women when I started compiling the list but that, wonderfully, is the way it turned out.

Do you have any you would add to this list? Share them in the comments!

1. Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or Daisy Jones and the Six, you are going to need to go straight out and get Malibu Rising! It’s a frothy, salty, summer read burning with the heat of the sun and full of everything Taylor Jenkins Reid is great at – beautiful people, full wallets and wild parties. You can find it here.

2. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Moving to a very different genre, The Lamplighters is creepy and tense with a strong sense of place. Set mostly on a lighthouse, you will feel the cold in your very bones (perfect to cool you down on a hot day!) and – if you’re anything like be – will be completely unable to put it down until you finish. You can find it here.

3. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you are a fan of historical fantasy, this is the summer read for you. Inspired by Mexican folklore, this gorgeous story has a balance of romance, magic, burning heat and adventure. Find it here.

4. Verity by Colleen Hoover

Is it the best book I’ve ever read? No. Did I consume it all in one go, unable to put it down? Absolutely yes. It is the kind of book you’ll be glued to at mealtimes thanks to the exceptional cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. Find it here, and enjoy!

5. Still Life by Sarah Winman

A change of pace for my final pick. Still Life is set between London and Florence, and has all of the Italian smells, tastes and sights that you need for a summer read. You will fall in love with the characters during the meandering plot lines, and may well end up planning your own Italian escape by the end. You can find it here.


6 Female Authors Who Inspire My Writing

6 Female Authors Who Inspire My Writing
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On my Instagram today, I shared the above image of some of my collection of Wuthering Heights editions. This is my favourite novel and, although I have multiple copies of lots of classics, I actively collect different editions of Wuthering Heights.

As I was happily looking at my beautiful editions and reminding myself of scenes in the book (do you have that reaction too? When you pick up a book you’ve enjoyed and the scenes run through your memory like a movie reel?), I realised just how much Emily Brontë has inspired my own writing.

If you’ve followed my blog or Instagram for a little while, you will know that I am a huge fan of the classics and, in particular, classics written by women. Reading these books have, without doubt, made me a better writer and so today I wanted to share with you the female authors of classics whose books I love, and whose writing inspires me.

My debut novel, The Hellion, will be released on 18th March 2021.

Emily Brontë

Given my introduction, I will have to start with Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights invokes one thing for me – atmosphere. It is full of gloom, wild and windy moors, ice and darkness. The mood of the book perfectly matches the bleak setting, and  I love the hints of ghosts and madness.

The themes of people struggling (and, mostly, failing) to live lives as they choose is highly emotive. 

Wuthering Heights is a book that I have read many times, and each time something new shows itself to me. 

Daphne du Maurier

The queen of the thriller! Daphne du Maurier’s gothic mystery Rebecca truly took my breath away (I finished it, opened it at the first page and began reading again). It may be unsurprising that I adore both this and Wuthering Heights – they are both books which are, ridiculously, often labelled as love stories or romances, when they are nothing of the sort.

I have read many of Daphne du Maurier’s works, particularly enjoying My Cousin Rachel and the creepy short story Don’t Look Now, but Rebecca is my favourite of hers. The horror that she manages to evoke simply with a choice of dress is astounding.

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson managed to make the every day frightening. Her book of short stories, The Lottery, opened my eyes to just how twisted the mundane can be. One of the stories is about a man who lives in a little flat that he has tried very hard to make perfect. His neighbour invites herself in for dinner, brings along a friend and pretends that the flat is hers – to the extent that the owner has to leave his perfect flat with his perfect things. The storyline sounds simplistic, but Shirley Jackson’s writing made it riveting and frightening.

Then there is We Have Always Lived In The Castle, with the terrifying Merricat. You are never sure whether to pity, despise, love or run from the unique narrator. Shirley Jackson knew how to keep a reader on their toes with pace and unease – something I try to work into my own writing.

Margaret Atwood

I am sure it is difficult to find a writer who has not been inspired by Margaret Atwood – she is simply a genius. The breadth of her writing is inimitable, she is a master at both short stories and novels.

My favourite works by Margaret Atwood are The Handmaid’s Tale, for its darkness, its depth and its glint of hope, and her short story collection Stone Mattress; a weird, interlinked set of yarns. She inspires me with her craft, her wit and her incredible volume of output!

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley is best known for her novel Frankenstein, well known for its view into the human psyche with man as the monster. I love her gory take on this. But my favourite Mary Shelley novel is The Last Man. Published in 1826, and set in 2073 onwards, it’s the story of a dystopian world where most people have been wiped out by a deadly disease (sound familiar?). 

Mary Shelley was writing dystopian and science fiction before anyone knew what it was, and I am constantly inspired by her dedication to her craft despite her desperately tragic life – if you have a chance to read up on it, I would definitely suggest you do.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman is here simply because of her short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. I haven’t actually read any of her other works, though writing this has reminded me that I should and if you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments. 

Written in 1890, her story of mental illness resonates as strongly today as it did then. It is one of those stories, despite being short, that places you directly in the head of the character where you become entirely trapped. Charlotte Perkins Gilman made this list because that story stays with me constantly. It is scary, it is obsessive and it is a feminist masterpiece. She showed me that you can create something incredible without it needing to be 900 pages long.

Do you write? Which authors inspire you? Let me know in the comments.

You can find out more about my debut novel on my blog post here.

10 Of The Most Beautiful Classic Book Collections

Barnes and Noble leatherbound classics collection

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, sue me, because I definitely do. I love the classics, and in particular I love beautiful, collectible editions of the classics. Following on from the birth of #bookstagram, there’s been a boom in the number of gorgeous collections. I like to think that those of us sharing the love on Instagram (I’m @thesenovelthoughts over there) have had a big part in bringing all of this excess beauty into the world!

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If you want to start book collecting, here are my favourite editions. These books can be more expensive than their mass market paperback alternatives, but keep them well and they will retain their value (and even increase it).

I see book collecting as one of life’s great pleasures, and I’m delighted to share some of my favourite collections with you. I’ll share my favourite book from each collection, and I hope you enjoy these aesthetically pleasing beauties.

War and peace Barnes and Noble leatherbound

Barnes and Noble Leatherbound

Of course, I have to start with these. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I have gradually built up my collection of these over the years. I love the excellent craftsmanship (they are hefty, heavy and great big blocks of books), the delightful, unique designs and the value. By value, I mean the way that they are limited, and keep them long enough and they will gain value – an investment, if you like. This edition of War and Peace is the most perfect one I have ever seen.

Arabian Nights Penguin clothbound classics

Penguin Clothbound Classics

One of the most instantly recognisable collections out there, the Penguin clothbound classics (designed by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith) are so simple and yet so beautiful. These tend to be very affordable (around the £15 mark) and look utterly delightful together on a shelf. I adore the repeating designs, and particularly this one for Arabian Nights. Issues with earlier prints where the foil would wear easily have been rectified with the later editions, so they are much more hard-wearing now too.

Northanger Abbey Canterbury Classics Word Cloud Classics

Canterbury Classics Word Cloud

The key to these designs is the accessibility. They each have key quotes from the text embedded on the cover, and each one has an individual, block colour – making them extremely pleasing all together on a shelf. In fact, the word cloud classics are so beautiful that I have seen them used as a house decoration piece on their own right in many instances. Just look at the incredible tone of this Northanger Abbey edition. You can find links to my whole collection here.

Rebecca Virago Modern Classics

Virago Modern Classics

Virago publish works by women, and the hardcover modern classics collection has a really wonderful mix of books. If you’re looking for exceptional books written by women, then I would recommend picking up anything from this collection. They are extremely readable, too – in fact, these editions are some of the ones I most frequently pick up. Rebecca is one of my favourite books, and this is the edition that I always, always read.

Anna Karenina Vintage Russian Classics

Vintage Russian Classics

Vintage have released a few collections in this thick, paperback design (including European Classics and Japanese Classics), but I think the Russian Classics are my favourite. The patterns are utterly delightful, and work so well with these long tomes. They are portable and hardwearing, and very affordable. I highly recommend these if you want to start reading some great Russian literature. This Anna Karenina edition is the one I read when I tackled the book for the first time.

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions Dracula

Thomas Nelson Seasons Editions

I gush about these lovelies very often (as a browse through my blog will tell you), and with good reason. These editions are special and they are to be treated with care. The paper cut design is fragile, and that just emphasises the beauty. The images themselves are intricate and the colours well chosen. There are only 10,000 of each available – making them extremely covetable. This edition of Dracula is my favourite, even though it hasn’t even been published! It’ll be released in September, and is available for preorder now.

Animal Farm Penguin English Library

Penguin English Library

These books are paperback as you would traditionally imagine them, but with the most thoughtful and perfect patterns (again, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith). I love these editions because they are so accessible, but also have that touch of class. I don’t mind throwing them in a bag or dog earring pages because – interestingly enough – they look almost better a bit scruffed up. Look at this incredible Animal Farm cover!

Wuthering Heights Knickerbocker Classics

Knickerbocker Classics

Another flexibound offering – like the word cloud classics – that is eye-catching, affordable and so, so collectible. The Knickerbocker Classics are a joy to read – and a joy to see on your shelf too. I love the nod towards nature, with a plant/flower/water theme to many of the designs, including this beautiful Wuthering Heights.

Chiltern Classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Chiltern Classics

The images never do these books justice. They are pearlescent, they glow. The hardback is solid and these little books are heavy. They just exude quality. I own just four of these, and I am always on the lookout for more. This edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is top of my list.

Macmillan Collector’s Library Frankenstein

Macmillan Collector’s Library

These adorable, small hardback books are one of the sweetest to spot on your bookshelf. Each one has sprayed gold edges and a beautiful dust jacket. The joy comes underneath the dust jacket, though. They are all clothbound in baby blue – and they are absolutely beautiful. I love collecting these, and it helps that the people at Macmillan are just lovely. Check out this gorgeous Frankenstein edition.

Do you collect books? Which are your favourite ones to collect? Let me know in the comments.

8 Of The Best Cosy Reading Accessories

If you’ve found your way here, you are likely the sort of person who loves nothing more than curling up with a good book. Me too! If you want to make your reading experience even cosier (no matter how small your reading spot), I’ve put together a selection of some of my favourite accessories, from mugs to throws.

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1. The Perfect Scented Candle

I love a scented candle. No matter the chaos around, light a scented candle and suddenly everything is calm. This scented candle from Literati & Light is one of my absolute favourites. With notes of leather, opium, old books and burnt wood, it transports you to 221B Baker Street. It is grown up, emotive and doesn’t have any of the sickly sweetness that many scented candles do. They also have diffusers if that’s more your thing.

2. The Snuggliest Throw

My house is full of throws. They can make any old chair become the perfect reading spot. For a throw to tick all of the boxes, it needs to be big (ideally big enough to be used to wrap me into a burrito), seriously soft and thick. I got my favourite one from Home Bargains. It was great value and is just so comfortable! If you’re not in the U.K., this grey throw looks gorgeous too.

3. Mug of Dreams

No reading session is complete without a hot drink of choice, and it is even better when that mug is as glorious as this one from Anthropologie. If this one isn’t up your street, the moon and stars mug from Oliver Bonas is pretty special.

4. The Luxurious Bath Caddy

One of my favourite places to read is in the bath, and my bath caddy was one of my best purchases this year. I love it! It has space for everything, and I promise it will revolutionise your bath. You can find this one here.

5. An Awesome Lamp

Coming in second place for my best purchases this year is my raven lamp! This will make any reading space look seriously cool, and it’s bright enough to read easily by. The lamp would look great in any home – whether minimalist or traditional – and is a great way to make your reading space look just that little bit more unique.

6. An Eye-Catching Notebook

Do you make a lot of notes when you read? Depending on the book, I do – and it’s always nice to have a notebook that will look smart both when you’re using it and when it’s full. The marble design on this one will look classy forever.

7. A Glorious Reading Sweatshirt

If you’re going to get properly snuggly, then you do need a lovely, warm sweatshirt to wear. This is one of my designs, from my Etsy store, and I really love how comfortable it is. It’s unisex, too!

8. A Poster to Keep Track of Your Reading

Of course, people chose to keep track of their reading in all sorts of ways, but this poster is a great way of showing the world how you’re getting on, too. You scratch to reveal the cover of each book as you read them, leaving you with an attractive poster which will also be a talking point for visitors to your home.

Do you recommend any other reading accessories? Link them in the comments – I would love to see! If you have a small business selling bookish accessories, do link your products so that we can all support you.

Top 6 Books To Ease You Into Reading Classics

Classics can seem a bit daunting. If you’ve picked up War and Peace and put it straight back down again, you’re certainly not alone. Classics aren’t for everyone, and that is totally fine. Absolutely no judgement about what you read here! But if you’re planning on dipping your toe into the water and reading some classics for the first time (or since love for them was bashed out of you at school), here are my recommendations.

I’ll give some tips for reading each one. When you start to read classics, the writing may well seem clunky; it might be tricky for you to get into the flow. But stick with it and you will reap the rewards!

Classics are great, but they do need special care and attention. Keep the TV off, pour a nice cup of tea and let yourself be immersed completely in these picks…‘Support Me on Ko-fi’, ‘#29abe0’, ‘P5P49PBMG’);kofiwidget2.draw();


Dracula was published in 1897, but it certainly doesn’t read like a book that is over 120 years old. It is creepy and full of character.

You will probably know some of, if not all of, the story (please be aware that the recent adaption does not follow the story particularly) – which is a bonus. You are already part of the way there!

The writing feels fairly modern, and it will keep you entirely hooked.

Pick up a copy here.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

If you like your novels with a healthy dose of smut (that’s probably most of us), you have Lady Chatterley’s Lover to thank. It was first published privately in 1928, but it wasn’t released fully in the U.K. until 1960. It had been subject to an obscenity trial which the publisher (Penguin) eventually won and the book sold 3 million copies.

This led the way for books to include more sex, and laid the pathway to the more open conversations we have today.

Aside from the historical importance, it’s also a great read when you’re new to classics. There’s a love story that will leave you wanting more, and you will continue reading to find the parts that caused it to be banned in the first place!

Pick up a copy here.

Wide Sargasso Sea

You will have heard of Jane Eyre, but as much as I love that novel, I’m not going to include it here.

Instead, I’m offering Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It is essentially a prequel to Jane Eyre and features truly compelling characters.

It’s a feminist and anti-colonial look at the back story to Jane Eyre, published in 1966. Light and superbly easy to read, I highly recommend this one.

You can read it here.

I Capture the Castle

If YA books are your jam, give I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith a try. The protagonist is a teenage girl living in a crumbling castle, and we join her on a journey of growth and learning.

This is a wistful book, full of charm. It was published in 1948 (and that is clear in the way the girls don’t have full autonomy over their lives), but is still resonant and funny today.

You can get a copy here.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

If you want to dip your toe into the classics, why not start with a novel that feels as though it was written today?

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, published in 1949, will feel eerily similar to present day as you read it. You’ll notice all of the resemblances and leave desperate to read more of his work (I’d suggest Animal Farm next).

Pick up a copy here.

The Diary of a Nobody

I included this in my 10 Uplifting Books to Read in 2021 blog post too – and that’s because it’s funny. Properly, rib-ticklingly funny.

It is the diary of a snobbish man, and describes all of the embarrassing and ignominious things he does. It was published in 1892, but it is still so, so funny today. Trust me on this one!

Get your copy here.

Have you read any of these? Or has my list made you want to? Let me know in the comments!

You might also be interested in:

Books To Look Forward To In 2021

10 Uplifting Books To Read In 2021

Top 10 Non-Fiction Books To Expand Your Mind

The Hellion – Harriet Young

Books To Look Forward To In 2021

With another strange and chaotic year ahead, we can rely on one thing to keep us sane – books. Fortunately, there are a number of exciting books coming out this year and I don’t know about you, but I find the process of preordering books, forgetting about them and the excitement when they arrive a wonderful self-gifting process! Here are the ones I’ve added to my cart…

From the author of one of my favourite books (Never Let Me Go) comes a brand new offering. In the first novel he’s released since 2005, Kazuo Ishiguro investigates love, humanity and science. Klara and the Sun is set in a similar dystopian world to Never Let Me Go, and it sounds as though fans of that book will love this one too.

Releases 2nd March 2021

Preorder it here.

UPDATE – you can read my review of this book here.

An exciting debut by Hafsa Zayyan, We Are All Birds of Uganda looks at racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong. The book has already received phenomenal reviews and won the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize. Can’t wait to get stuck into this one!

Releases 21st January 2021

Preorder it here.

The Girl on the Train is one of those books that everyone seems to have read – and with good reason. It was immensely readable – utterly unputdownable. So it is unsurprising that excitement is brewing about Paula Hawkins’ upcoming novel, A Slow Fire Burning. This is another thriller, and I am hoping for more flawed characters and breathtaking twists.

Releases on 31st August 2021

Preorder it here.

New from Taylor Jenkins Reid this year is Malibu Rising. Daisy Jones & The Six was one of my reading highlights of last year, and I am looking forward to being immersed in this one. Jenkins Reid has a wonderful skill of creating characters that feel alive, and I can’t wait to meet these ones.

Releases on 27th May 2021

Preorder it here.

It would be wrong to write a list of books to look forward to in 2021 without including my own debut novel. An historical thriller set in Pendle, Lancashire, The Hellion examines the lives of some of the women accused of witchcraft during the infamous 1612 Pendle Witch Trials. I am delighted to be releasing this with Unbound Publishers. You can learn more about The Hellion here.

Releases on 4th March 2021

Preorder the paperback here or the ebook here.

As well as these releases, I’m also looking forward to some brand new editions of classics, including the Thomas Nelson Spring and Fall editions, and the stunning new edition of The Great Gatsby by Canterbury Classics.

Which books are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments.

Cosy Bookish Clothes And Accessories For Book Lovers

Cosy Bookish Clothes And Accessories For Book Lovers

Book Stack Pink T Shirt Dress

I’m so excited to be sharing a beautiful new range of bookish clothes and accessories, perfect for any bibliophile. With many of us stuck inside for the foreseeable, I’ve focused on comfortable loungewear- they’re perfect to curl up and read in, but still look great on a (dreaded) zoom call.

I’m delighted to have partnered with a high quality printing company to produce these items using my original artwork, meaning that I can offer a vast range of sizes and free worldwide shipping.

I’m constantly adding new items, so keep an eye on my Etsy store for the newest releases.

Here’s what we have:

Pink or blue book stack clothing

My blue and pink book stack illustrations have gone down a treat (you can get them as prints here), and I’ve been so happy with the response to the clothing items featuring these illustrations. There are two available at present (click the images to shop):

The blue book stack unisex sweater. This sweatshirt is ridiculously comfy, a flattering fit and cosy enough to lounge in, smart enough to wear out for a meal.

Tell me something comfier than a t shirt dress and leggings? Well, now you can live the dream with my pink book stack t shirt dress! Gloriously comfortable, utterly gorgeous.

Stephen King themed items

Fans of Stephen King, these ones are for you! All featuring my black cat illustration and the famous Stephen King quote “quiet people have the loudest minds”. These would make the perfect gift for an introvert or horror lover (or introverted horror lover!). Again, just tap the image to shop.

The perfect hoodie! Cosy, warm, ridiculously soft, and featuring your favourite horror writer – what’s not to love? This is unisex and fits wonderfully.

This is also available in grey, blue or pink in my eBay store.

Ok, who wouldn’t want this gorgeous Stephen King tote bag? It’s absolutely perfect for lugging around your books, and it’s top notch quality too.

The Stephen King magic mug! This starts completely black, and when you add hot liquid it gradually reveals the illustration underneath.

Also available…

If enamel mugs are more your thing, check out this stylish brown book stack illustration mug. Ideal for sipping on your tea or coffee while you curl up with your book!

Love the Penguin orange classics? Share your love with this tote bag. Ideal gift for students!

My Etsy shop includes over 100 beautiful bookish items. As well as those featured in this article, I also sell a wide range of prints, greetings cards, gift sets and jewellery. Just head over to These Novel Thoughts Shop to browse!‘Support Me on Ko-fi’, ‘#29abe0’, ‘P5P49PBMG’);kofiwidget2.draw();

The Constant Reader: How To Set And Stick To Reading Goals

If you are anything like Panda here, you have a bookcase (whether that’s in your home, virtual or in your local library) full of books waiting to be read. You want to power through them all but there never seems to be enough time. So you set a reading goal.

Reading goals are great in theory. They can inspire you to pick up more books than you normally would, and encourage you to read different genres, authors or styles. But they can also become unwieldy, heavy things, putting you off the thing you wanted to do most.

Here are my top tips for setting reading goals that are easy to achieve, and actually increase the number of books you’re reading…

1. Focus on habits, not on numbers

If you want to read more books, it’s natural to want to set a goal that puts a figure on that. One of the most common reading goals is to read 52 books in a year – one a week. However, that completely ignores the fact that some books are shorter, some are longer, some you can whiz through and some require far more brain power. You can get behind easily, then end up dropping your goal as you think there’s no way you could catch up.

Don’t focus on numbers. Instead, use your reading goal to develop habits that will stay with you throughout your life. For example, my habit is to read for ten minutes before I go to sleep. I do this every night, and have done for years. Getting into the habit was hard, but now that I have it, I can’t even contemplate sleep without picking up my book first. Make sure the habit suits you. If you’re an early riser, you could fit in a page or two before breakfast. Maybe you want to make sure you read at least something on both days of the weekend? Set up your goal, watch it become a habit and your future self will thank you!

2. Use your goal to broaden your horizons

Let’s be honest, if you’re setting a reading goal then you’re already someone who likes to learn. Why not use that reading goal to dip your toes into something unusual to you? Setting a goal such as ‘I want to read more books from other countries than I do from my own country’ or making sure a certain percentage of the books you read are by LGBTQ+ authors, for example, will set your focus on your book choices rather than the number of books you read. Less stress, and you end the year with a much broader viewpoint than when you started it.

3. Don’t lose sight of why you set the goal

When you start a new year, what is going through your mind when you set your reading goals? I’m willing to bet that you set your goal to read more books because you LOVE reading. Don’t let an overbearing reading goal ruin that! Your love of reading will be with you for life if you nurture it, look after it and treat it gently. Your Goodreads reading list probably won’t be.

4. Have fun with it!

There are literally thousands of reading challenges which you can find through a google search (or browse #readingchallenge on Instagram). Use these to make your reading goal a bit more dynamic. Read the alphabet (book titles which begin with each letter of the alphabet), only read books with a certain colour cover each month, read as many books as possible which have a character with your first name. It doesn’t matter what you do, but these will help focus your mind and keep your reading experience fun.

The great thing about reading challenges on Instagram is that there will be a big community of lovely readers there to chat to – they’ll help keep you on track too.


Reading goals are there to be achieved, not to beat yourself up over. Try stepping away from the numbers this year (and ignore how many books other people read!) and hopefully you can inject some more of that wonderful enjoyment into your reading.

You might also like:

10 Uplifting Books To Read In 2021

The Hellion – Harriet Young

Top 10 Books Of 2020 (So Far…)

10 Uplifting Books To Read In 2021

Let’s face it, 2020 was a bit of a downer. It turns out that a global pandemic really isn’t much fun, curtailing all sorts of joyful things from weddings to festivals to simply meeting for a coffee. Still, one thing it couldn’t take away from us was our books. Reading became a bastion of solace for many, a place to escape from reality and perhaps travel the world.

So, here are some uplifting tomes to take with you into 2021. Featuring both old and new books, you’ll find something for everyone but there is one common theme running through them – a happy ending.

1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and prejudice Jane Austen

Let’s start with an old favourite, shall we? Jane Austen’s best known work is a hug of a novel. Featuring characters you will fall deeply in love with, a heavy sprinkling of Austen’s inimitable wit, and a dose of self acceptance, it is difficult to come away from this book without a smile on your face. This book calls for dark January evenings, a mug of tea and a blanket.

Get it here.

2. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The testaments Margaret Atwood

The sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (hardly a cheerful read), The Testaments provides a bit of relief. If watching totalitarian regimes crumble ticks your boxes, then pick this one up. Where we saw women struggle in the awful Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale, here we have the satisfaction of seeing them destroy it.

Get it here.

3. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The enchanted April

This is a perfect book to read as spring begins to show its head. Set in a gorgeous castle with a glorious castle in the Italian Riviera, this book will sweep you away and you will feel the vitamin D seep through its pages and into your soul. It feels warm, and happy, and strong all at the same time. A beautiful read.

Get it here.

4. The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

The lord of the rings

By this point, most of us will have either read the books or seen the films. But if there was ever a time to revisit them, it’s now. Tolkien’s epic tale of good vs evil in a world so very different to our own is everything you need for true escapism.

Get it here.

5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The hitch hikers guide to the galaxy

I first read this book as a teen and, to this day, I don’t think I have read a funnier book. It is silly, and wise, and wholesome. If you haven’t experienced the joy of this book yet, I envy you! Read it now – and you’ll find out the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Get it here.

6. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My sister the serial killer

Ok, I know it’s unusual for a thriller to feature on a list of uplifting books, but this one genuinely is. It is morbidly funny, unique and superbly readable. It’s also short, which is great when you’re stuck in a rut and want to feel the achievement of finishing a book.

Get it here.

7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s adventures in wonderland

When I want my mood to be improved and my serotonin levels boosted, I often reach for a childhood favourite. The characters in Alice can’t help but make you smile – even the not so nice ones. You’ll be grinning like a Cheshire Cat by the end of it.

Get it here.

8. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Chocolat Joanne Harris

In a similar vein to The Enchanted April, Chocolat effortlessly sweeps you away to another place – this time, to the south of France where Vianne is winning villagers’ hearts with her mystical chocolate-making skills. The tastes and smells burst from the page and you will finish the book with a warm heart and smiling eyes.

Get it here.

9. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming Michelle Obama

What is there to say about this one? Michelle Obama is an amazing woman, and her life story is equally as amazing. You will find this inspiring, and hopefully it will encourage you to get out and achieve those things you thought you couldn’t.

Get it here.

10. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Diary of a nobody

Another laugh out loud funny book. This is the diary of Mr Pooter, a pompous and self-important man who experiences embarrassment after embarrassment. This light-hearted will leave you smiling for days.

Get it here.

Do you have any recommendations of great, uplifting reads? Leave them in the comments!

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Top 10 Non-Fiction Books To Expand Your Mind

Top 10 Books Of 2020 (So Far…)

The Hellion – Harriet Young

Top 10 Non-Fiction Books To Expand Your Mind


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot

The value of non-fiction books is so often overlooked in favour of other, more instant sources of knowledge (cough…internet…cough), but sometimes there is nothing so beautiful and thought provoking as a non-fiction book. In no particular order, here are my top ten non-fiction books for expanding your mind. Get learning!

1. A History of the World in 100 Objects – Neil MacGregor

A history of the world in 100 objects neil macgregor

Beautifully presented, easy to read, and we learn about the civilisations of the world, from ancient history to modern day. The objects are intimate, strange and tell such wonderful stories about our predecessors.

Get it here:

A History of the World in 100 Objects

2. Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner


Explains statistics in laymans terms and somehow, amazingly, makes them exciting, interesting and endlessly entertaining. An excellent way to learn about how statistics are used both correctly and incorrectly.

Get it here:


3. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

Silent spring Rachel carson

Although outdated now, this book should be read by all- it led to the understanding most of us have about the effect we as a species has on our planet. Particularly pertinent due to high profile climate change deniers!

Get it here:

Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)

4. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Stephen hawking a brief history of time

After I had read this, I felt like my brain had doubled in size. I just understood so much more. Incredible facts and theories about the universe we live in.

Get it here:

A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes

5. The Origins of Totalitarianism – Hannah Arendt


In our modern society, we often look back on Nazi Germany and wonder how it happened, because we wouldn’t vote for that. This important book, written just after WW2 highlights some disquieting similarities to our world now.

Get it here:

The Origins of Totalitarianism

6. The Story of Art – E. H. Gombrich


A beautiful book which will give you a background to the most admired works of art in the world. Make sure you get a recent edition which will include some modern art too.

Get it here:

The Story of Art

7. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf


‘Feminism’ is so often seen, ridiculously, as a dirty word. Read A Room of One’s Own to see why it is necessary. A quick read, but an important one.

Get it here:

A Room of One’s Own (Penguin Modern Classics)

8. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote


Widely dubbed as the first ever true-crime book, Truman Capote meticulously picks apart and examines the lives of a murdered family, and looks into the motivation behind the horrific crime.

Get it here:

In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics)

9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks


Oliver Sacks recounts the tales of patients with neurological disorders. Endlessly fascinating and desperately human stories.

Get it here:

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

10. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall


An amazing eye opener about the capabilities of the human body! If you want to learn what your body can do, this book is a brilliant place to start. Truly inspiring.

Get it here:

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Enjoyed this? Why not have a look at 30 books to read before you’re 30.

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