Best paired with hot chocolate and a fluffy blanket

Photo by Photo-SD via Shutterstock

Well, it’s been…quite a year. Maybe, like me, you’re feeling exhausted, fragile, and in need of comfort? If so, perhaps you’ll enjoy curling up with one of these feel-good books in the cold winter months.

It might not be a coincidence that many of these books on my list are British. Yes, I am British too, so it makes sense these are the books I’m drawn to. But it’s also because there’s been a definite trend in the UK over recent years for something that’s been called “up lit” — books with “kindness at their core”, as the Guardian puts…

(A great gift idea for your favourite bookworm!)

Purchased from KristinaSh on Shutterstock

If there’s anything library fans love more than anything else in the world, it’s books. So what could be better than a book about a library, or featuring a librarian as its main character? Beyond the few obvious and well-known choices — The Shadow of the Wind, The Time Traveller’s WifeI’ve rounded up a few more for you to try.

And who isn’t anxious in 2020?

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

When the history books are written about 2020, I’m betting the word “anxiety” will come up a lot. Whether it’s the panic buying of toilet paper or the nagging worry that even a much-needed hug is potentially dangerous, there’s a lot to be anxious about, from the slightly frivolous to the downright depressing. But of course, even without the pandemic, there would have been plenty of causes for anxiety in 2020 — the U.S. election, yes, but also in the general course of being human and loving other humans. As with so many things, though: part of the solution is…

Books and bookish gear for your favourite book lover!

Image bought from Shutterstock

If you have a bookworm in your life, I’m here to help you pick the perfect gift for them — whether that’s books or bookish accessories. After all, being a bookworm is not just about reading — it’s a way of life!


With, you can choose 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscriptions. Your recipient chooses the audiobooks, one every month, and your gift supports an independent bookshop, too. (These are available worldwide, not just the US!)

Start your holiday shopping now!

promotional material made by Book Are My Bag

October, for me, is all about beautiful light and crunching leaves under my feet, adding cardigans back into my wardrobe, and the still relatively new school year full of hope and resolutions. I believe in enjoying each season in its turn and not constantly rushing onto the next thing. If anyone tries to play Christmas music around me before Thanksgiving, I give them a glare that could roast a turkey.

But, this year, with regards to this as to so many things, I’m having to adjust — and if we want our favourite small businesses to survive, we all have…

They’ll love you forever, I promise

Photos by LightField Studios via Shutterstock

There are so many new releases every week, and publisher dollars are concentrated on a small proportion of those. The rest have to fight for attention, and that can be hard work and also emotionally draining for an author after they’ve already put years of their life into making a book they’re proud of.

Plus, think about it: are you more likely to buy a book that its own author is trying to sell you, or to believe a third party when they tell you it’s good? I know which side I fall on. …

A great place for a foodie getaway

Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash

I can’t believe that in eight years of asking people where I could go to the beach from DC by train, nobody’s ever suggested Mystic. Still, that’s remedied now, and I had a great time. The train journey itself was great – I love long train journeys, seven hours in this case – and it feels safe and relaxing in this 2020 year, with only every other seat booked and masks worn throughout (expect for eating and drinking).

The town of Mystic is lovely – its walkable centre has character, classy boutiques (including a Fat Face, with a deck out…

UK books jumping across the Pond to the US this month

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

In the UK, as elsewhere, publishing in general and book release dates in particular have been in flux these last few months. But things may have settled down a little now — at least as far as the pandemic is concerned — and here are some books heading across the pond in July.

You don’t have to be fluent to enjoy these

Photo by Phix Nguyen on Unsplash

Are you learning French? Ready for the challenge of reading a whole book?

Stop! Don’t pick just any book. You may be feeling it now, but three pages into the latest translated Sophie Kinsella, your dictionary will be soaked with tears of frustration.

And let’s take chick lit as an example. It feels easy to read in our language. But it’s full of slang, in-fashion vocabulary, and the kind of words you probably aren’t learning at your intensive EU course. It’s hard. …

and every day, tbh

Photo by Nito via Shutterstock

Before the pandemic hit, I had big plans for 14th July. On 9th March, when everything still felt normal, I met with my bosses at the bookshop where I work and I pitched them an idea for a Bastille Day party: there’d be wine and cheese, and we’d sell French books; I’d get to press under-rated novels I love into the hands of grateful and slightly tipsy customers.

It was going to be so exciting.


Instead, here I am, on Medium, pressing French books into your hands instead. Pour yourself some wine. Cut yourself some cheese.

I’ll wait.


Claire Handscombe

Editor of WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives; author of the novel UNSCRIPTED and of CONQUERING BABEL: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store