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Joyful & Hopeful Books to Start the New Year

Though 2022 is off to, in many ways, a better start than the disappointing 2021, this year still has its fair share of challenges and turmoil (and it’s not even hardly spring yet!). I had a long reading slump in 2021, and I think this is down to the fact that I wasn’t reading for my mood. What I needed was joyful, light, emotional, and hopeful books. I kicked off 2022 with books that met my desire for more joy, hope, and just lovely characters to hang out with. Here is a list of joyful and hopeful books for the spring. None of them shy away from challenging or emotional themes, but you can slip into them knowing you’re in safe hands.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers has become one of my favourite contemporary authors. Her prose is beautiful, her stories thoughtful, and her characters just lovely to hang out with. This book is no exception.

To Be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

No surprise that I’m recommending two Becky Chambers novels in this list. To Be Taught if Fortunate is a novella, but chock full of brilliant world-building and fascinating science.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Well-written but easy to enjoy, TJ Klune’s prose is like coming home from a long time away. This is a story about an orphanage of unusual children and found families. Warm, funny, and full of hope.

The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson

Middle-grade fiction like the stories of Sophie Anderson can be a way to break your reading slump. This story is inspired by Slavic folklore, full of magical creatures and featuring a girl who learns how to trust herself.

The Other Wind by Ursula K Le Guin

This year, I (re)devoured Le Guin’s Earthsea series, which culminates in The Other Wind. Set in Le Guin’s fantasy world of the archipelago, this story is about death and grief, about balance and letting go. It was exactly what I needed in the wake of 2021.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

If you’re obsessed like I am with the Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle, you absolutely must get your hands on the film’s source material, the middle-grade novel by Diana Wynne Jones.

Angie Spoto is an American fiction writer and poet living in Edinburgh. In 2020, she completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her doctoral thesis was a fantasy novel, called The Grief Nurse, and a collection of essays on grief, madness and language. The Grief Nurse has been shortlisted for the First Novel Prize 2021 and The Bridge Awards Emerging Writer Award in 2020. Angie is represented by Robbie Guillory from Underline Literary Agency.

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