Monday, December 3, 2018

Top Ten Heartwarming Books for Cold Winter Nights

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's theme is "Cozy/Wintry Reads." I know from experience that the last thing I want to do when it's gross outside is read a dark, depressing book or one that's set somewhere freezing cold. This is the time of year I want to read something sweet and heartwarming. In case you're the same, here are ten heartwarming books I recommend.

1. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
This book (a loose memoir written under a pseudonym) recounts the adventures (and misadventures) of the author as a new veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1940s. He clearly cares about the animals he treats, even when he's poking fun at them, their hapless owners, and most of all himself.

2. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
This is a children's book about a family of five sisters growing up in New York City in the early 1900s. The stories are simple and sweet but also provide insights into life at the time and place, particularly for a Jewish immigrant family, and there are some lovely surprises that tie it all together at the end.

3. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
The overall writing in this book is admittedly not the best (plot holes, unanswered questions, unrealistic dialogue), but I couldn't help loving it anyway because it's just so damn sweet and the sentence-level writing is beautiful. It's a love story between a boy who is blind and the girl with deformed feet whom he carries around on his back as she acts as his eyes. It sounds cheesy summarized like that, and maybe it is, but it was 100% heartwarming to read anyway.

4. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This is another children's book (a lot of heartwarming books seem to be in that category), about a girl who's new to town and the dog who helps her make friends, land a job, and reconnect with her father. It touches briefly on some heavier topics like alcoholism, death, and mentally challenged individuals, but primarily it's a light-hearted read about overcoming prejudices and finding your community.

5. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
This is also a dog book, though not a children's book this time. It centers on a dog who is reborn each time they die, though they retain the memories of their previous owners. If you've ever known the love and loyalty of a dog, you'll appreciate this book.

6. George by Alex Gino
This children's book tackles the experience of being a transgender child in a way that's accessible and not too heavy for children. While George's experience isn't exactly easy, she has a supportive best friend and ultimately has the opportunity to share her true identity with the world.

7. One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
I don't want to spoil too much of the book's mystery, so I'll just say that this book is an exploration about how each of us has something special about us. It's a story of redemption (for the main character) and of helping others recognize their unique value.

8. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
You've probably heard of this by now even if you haven't read it yet. (What book lover doesn't want to read about a bookstore?) It's a sweet if predictable story of growth, tracing a bookseller's journey from lonely, cranky widow to happy family man whose bookstore is a pillar of the community.

9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This quiet coming-of-age novel follows Francie Nolan from age 11 to age 16: the questions, the obstacles, the small pleasures, the moments of confusion and embarrassment, the life lessons, the shift in perspective over time. Although Francie grows up in poverty — which Smith neither romanticizes nor oversimplifies — it's clear that she is well loved by her family, and that makes the biggest difference.

10. What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
This is an adorable YA romance with an unlikely couple at its center — Ben has just broken up with his boyfriend and isn't ready for someone new, and Arthur has never been in a relationship and nearly ruins everything with his over-eagerness. A bit predictable and not exactly a happily ever after, it's still an adorable and sweet read.

What are your favorite heartwarming reads?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Stranger in a Strange Land and The New Jim Crow
Five years ago I was reading: The Buddha in the Attic and Roots
Ten years ago I was reading: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. II

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