Top Ten Tuesday is was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re celebrating our rainy day reads.
My instinct is to equate rainy day reads with comfort reads, which is absurd given I’ve lived most of my life in places where it rains every day – so really I should just be picking any ten random books off my bookshelf (…huh, I like that idea for a future top ten). Nonetheless, I’m sticking with it: let’s books that warm the cockles of my heart.
My idea of comfort reading isn’t necessarily… comforting. Familiar, definitely. Heart-warming in some way. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for mayhem and megadeath or heart-rending tragedy along the way. Nothing wrong with a good cry from time to time. I make no secret of how much I enjoy a good emotional work-out, after all.
I Still Dream – J P Smythe
My latest contender for a rainy day, I Still Dream utterly destroyed me (to the extent of me dropping it one evening declaring “oh hell no I’m not dealing with this right now”, much to my beloved’s brief consternation). I’d already cried over it twice that day. It’s a book about how we design our flaws into software and have our way of life threatened by the consequences; about the arrogance of techbros – and the power of compassion. Damn straight it left me in bits.
The Day of the Triffids / The Kraken Wakes – John Wyndham
Apocalypse fiction shouldn’t be comforting, I know, but I adore John Wyndham. His work is dated, of course – and inevitably very white, straight and middle-class – but at least (unlike some classic SF authors) he never forgot to include female characters. I appreciate the resilience of his protagonists and his tendency toward hopeful endings.
I’m rereading these books right now, and it’s incredibly comforting. Caruso gives us a gorgeously-considered world of vivid female characters determined to change their world for the better. There is no patriarchy to fight, but the status quo can and must be challenged: it’s all about principles and allyship and knowing when to set things on fire.
The Chronicles of Prydain – Lloyd Alexander
I have a bookshelf full of childhood favourites, but if I’m reaching out on a rainy day it’s likely for (one of) The Chronicles of Prydain. A mishmash of Welsh and Irish mythology with an inept but well-intentioned farm boy hero, acid-tongued manic pixie princess and some truly dark plot lines. The Black Cauldron remains my favourite. Oh, Adaon 💔
Wayfarers – Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers is perfect on a rainy day: immersive and heart-warming. I’d struggle to say which of her stand-alone space operas to choose – it would depend on the rainy day – but there are no bad choices. I love these books for their grounded relationships and considered world-building, and I applaud Chambers’ commitment to human drama.
Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho
A frothy Regency drama with faeries and dragons that skewers racism and challenges the patriarchy is obviously very much My Bag; and the light touch and sense of humour makes it perfect on a rainy day. I’m pretty certain that The True Queen will join Sorcerer on my list of comforting reads, but right now I’m still trying to find time to read it (oh hey, is it Wyrd and Wonder next month? Well then).
The Memoirs of Lady Trent – Marie Brennan
Erm, speaking of dragons and challenging the patriarchy with a sense of humour, Lady Isabella is certain to raise my spirits. Whether it’s her excitable first outing (can a young lady find a gentleman who will let her pursue her ambition to study dragons) or her glorious later adventures (books 3 and 4 are my hands-down favourites), I can’t read these books without finding a smile on my face.
No dragons, but I can see me returning to Daevabad on a rainy day. I love the characters in this vibrant djinni fantasy, and Chakraborty’s fearlessness in tackling urgent questions of our time through her magical world-building. Besides, she also weaves in a bookworm, home improvements and some heart-stopping action scenes. Definitely one to curl up with and forget the real world for a day.
The Witches of Lychford – Paul Cornell
Cornell’s cosy rural paranormal novellas are judged to perfection – bite-sized adventures that comfort with wry humour, quiet wisdom and great heart. These books are as English as tea and crumpets, with Cornell gleefully making gentle jabs at a world he knows intimately. Any book that puts town planning and a ring road at the heart of a dastardly magical plot is my jam. And the fourth is confirmed for this autumn – I’m so excited!
To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo
I still haven’t got round to reviewing this wicked retelling of the Little Mermaid so let me summarise my thoughts now: WHEEEEE OH MY AAAAAAAH YAAASSS DO IT AGAIN. I can absolutely see this being a wonderful way to while away a wet day – adventure on the high seas with snark and stabbing, even if I didn’t think the supposed pirates were very piratical. The sirens, on the other hand, were BRILLIANT.
So: it seems I look for adventure, emotional rollercoasters and happy endings (and that I’m terribly biased towards fantasy, which I didn’t entirely expect – but as my mind is now turning to V E Schwab’s Shades of Magic, Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart – it really is fantasy all the way down).
What books do you turn to on a rainy day?