What classifies as “cozy?”
Surprisingly, I had some trouble narrowing down books for this week’s topic. Are we talking about the cute and fluffy kind of cozy, with the leaves changing colors and Halloween on the horizon? Or is it more of a rainy day cozy, when it’s cold, dreary, and a little depressing?
I went both ways with this one.
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser
The Book Jumper is an under-hyped young adult fantasy novel. It follows Amy Lennox, who leaves Germany with her mother to their family’s estate in Scotland. She meets her grandmother, who insists she read, though not in the usual way. Amy comes from a long line of book jumpers, those that can travel inside books and whose life mission is to protect the world inside. While her newfound gift is every book lover’s dream, it also comes with an unexpected complication: someone is stealing from books and kidnapping characters. Teaming up with her new friend Will, another book jumper, Amy sets out to get to the bottom of the mystery, even if her life is in danger.
The Book Jumper is set on this stormy little isle outside of the Scottish mainland. While they are isolated for most of the book, the atmosphere was a character itself. Plus, the family mansion was old and slightly falling apart. There was an element of tension as Amy’s family had to share the space with Will’s family, a rival clan of book jumpers. It was like a modern-day fairy tale, mixing beauty with a little bit of darkness towards the end.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
If I had to pick one book to be called “cozy,” it would have to be The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I hardly ever talk about it on my blog, but I did like it when I read it. A.J. Fikry is a grumpy widower and bookstore owner who has one of his most prized possessions stolen: a rare collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories. Just when he thinks it couldn’t get any worse, his life is turned upside down when he discovers a surprising delivery in his bookstore in the form of a two-year-old girl named Maya. To everyone’s surprise, A.J. adopts Maya, changing his life for the better.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings, at least when I first started reading it. It is another novel set on an island isolated from the mainland and everyone is in each other’s business. Underneath the cozy feeling of A.J. and Maya’s storyline, as they grow together as a family, we are also dealing with other people’s more serious issues, like A.J.’s former sister-in-law, who has an uncaring philandering husband and struggles to have a baby.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
I would apply the word cozy to the cover of Lilac Girls a little more than the inside contents. It is a World War II story following three women: Caroline, an American woman that works at the French consulate in New York City; Kasia, a Polish teenager who is shipped to the infamous Ravensbruck, a women’s concentration camp, and is the victim of horrendous experiments; and Herta, a doctor at Ravensbruck who comes into a moral crisis as she is trapped amongst the male-dominated Nazis. Lilac Girls is a big book, but it’s the kind you want to snuggle up with because, once you pick it up, chances are you will have a hard time putting it down.
The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
If there is any book on this list that is ideal for the autumn/Halloween season, it is The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale. It is set in a Puritan type world where ordinary people live in fear of magic, specifically two sisters called the soul eaters and their master, The Beast.
When the main character, Alys, was seven years old, she encountered the soul eaters while wondering around one night, but they spare her and the other children in the village. With all the adults dead, they are sent to a neighboring village that despises magic to a point where they will target anyone who appears different. Years later, the secret Alys has kept is coming back to haunt her as The Beast and the soul eaters threaten those she cares for.
The Beast is an Animal has delicious writing and the world is dark but atmospheric. The mythology behind it is just plain creepy. If you are looking for a Halloween read, I recommend this one.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I was introduced to The Little Prince in college, when I was a teaching assistant. The professor I worked with, The Little Prince was one of her favorites and she frequently used it for her classes. On the surface, it is downright cute, but it is also philosophical. A pilot crash lands in the desert and meets a mysterious child he calls The Little Prince. The boy challenges him to think creatively and see imagination in a world that typically squashes anything not deemed “practical” or “realistic.” I’m totally butchering the synopsis. The Little Prince is much more layered, but you could read it in a day, it’s so short. And you won’t want to put it down, anyway.