Even though most of us are trying to gloss over the current world pandemic business in our social media and internet platforms, it is here and we feel it. In a time where most people have already been social distancing for two months, we need increasingly more positive stimuli. We need something that will make our brains from overthinking and panicking about everything around us and that helps us calm down. One of the reasons why I created this blog was to share my love of books. This love also comes from the part of me that uses stories as a way to escape from reality and embark on new adventures. Yes, this is just like that very tiresomely used quote from the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies […].”. Maybe this quote is used and referred to so many times because this is simply true? I can relate to it and I can see how many of the people that, like me, love reading can relate to it too.
In a small attempt to give you some tools to sleep better at night — because we all know how messed up sleep schedules can get during a quarantine — I have compiled a list of ten books that will help you feel better and sleep well at night. Some of these books I have read, some are suggested and some I found through research on the internet. They are not necessarily dreamy and fantasy-driven reads but rather atmospheric tales that will make you travel through other worlds and realities. I suggest reading them before going to sleep, like a small daily ritual. It will help you fall asleep since you will ideally be kept far away from blue lights and electronics that might keep you awake, help you establish a sleep schedule if you program your reading time every night and help you relax and be distracted from all that is wrong with the world right now.
Always remember, it does not matter what kind of books you read or how many books you read! What matters is that you enjoy the act of reading!
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil-what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
For the past fifty years, The Chronicles of Narnia have transcended the fantasy genre to become part of the canon of classic literature. Each of the seven books is a masterpiece, drawing the reader into a land where magic meets reality, and the result is a fictional world whose scope has fascinated generations.
In The Chronicles of Narnia series, C. S. Lewis transports his readers to the magical and ethereal land of Narnia. A land that is like ours in many ways but very distinct in others. You have probably read these books or at least heard something about them during your lifetime.
They are a great read and, having read them as children, they are a great subject to re-read and re-discover. I promise you that you will find new things that you never realised were there.
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
Love and Paris are two great words to associate in everything related to the escape of daily life. This is certainly an atmospheric read: you will feel transported to Paris, discovering little corners that you never imagined were possible to exist. If you want to go to Paris in the future, this story will give you amazing tips of places to visit and things not to miss (there is no problem with dreaming about the future) and if you have already been to Paris this book will make you look at it with another set of eyes!
3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
I know this is the second Paris book in a row but it came highly recommended (from the general population over at Goodreads)! After some scrolling around looking for “feel good” books this one kept appearing over and over again. From what I can gather, it talks about lost love and the journey not only to rediscover oneself but also to learn how to love again. Honestly, who does not want to hear the love story of a man who mends broken hearts through books?
4. One Day in December by Josie Silver
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
Here we have another love story, this time in London. This is, over everything else, a cosy book. A book that talks about meeting the right person at the wrong time, the reality of love and of how impossible things happen every day.
If you love great character development and a great romance novel, this is the book you have been waiting for!
5. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
You know when a literary trope is done right and it feels so nice? Well, this is it! Enemies to lovers, haters to lovers, guy and girl who do not like each other stuck in a room thanks to circumstance… This book has been recently published in Portugal and let me tell you: it is all over my Instagram feed! Everyone is reading it and loving it.
Engaging characters with the pleasant, funny and light tone that Christina Lauren’s books always seem to promise: this is certainly a recipe for a better mood and a reading binge!
6. The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer
The Light in the Piazza takes place in Italy in the summer of 1953. Margaret Johnson and her beautiful, twenty-six-year-old daughter, Clara, are touring the Tuscan countryside. While sightseeing, Clara meets a good-looking young Italian man, Fabrizio, and quickly embarks on a whirlwind romance with him, despite her mother’s stern disapproval.
Margaret, extremely protective of her daughter, attempts to keep Clara and Fabrizio apart, not only because of the cultural differences between the young lovers but also because of a family secret that would be revealed: Clara is not quite all that she appears. Considering whether to inform Fabrizio and his family of the truth about Clara, Margaret realizes that it could possibly spoil her daughter’s one true chance for happiness.
This book can be mostly described as an Italian Summer dream. If you put together foreigners and Tuscany in 1953 there is so much potential to be unlocked. Yes, this is an old story, but there is something so atmospheric (I really like this word, it seems) about it that is difficult to explain in order to conceptualise it better.
This was the book that gave origin to the famous musical with the same title!
7. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall — named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and for the coveted prize of her hand, Tristran vows to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends him over the ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…
You may know it only as a movie but Stardust is another one of Neil Gaiman’s great stories! This is not a book for deep characters and thoughts but rather a lighthearted and adventurous tale that brings back all the knightly and fantastical tropes we all love. I would go so far as to say that this book reads like a grown-up Disney movie and I cannot see anything wrong with that.
Do not mistake me, this is certainly an adult story, but it is surrounded by whimsical magic and characters that make you love them.
8. Juliet by Anne Fortier
Juliet, an ambitious, utterly engaging historical novel on the scale of The Thirteenth Tale and The Birth of Venus, follows a young woman who discovers that her family’s origins reach all the way back to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers. Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key — one carried by her mother on the day she herself died — to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever — a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her — superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse — “A plague on both your houses!” — is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
This book is one of my all-time favourites. Seriously, it is one of those books that I feel that are not appreciated enough (and there are loads of people who really disagree with me on this). I love Italy as a setting for stories and this is a dual one. You get to see the development of the plot along with two storylines that are deeply intertwined. From the origins of Romeo and Juliet’s story comes a mystery that lasts generations!
The mix between the story, the romance, the literary aspect and the compelling characters always succeeds in taking my breath away!
9. Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
A long-lost work of Shakespeare, newly found.
A killer who stages the Bard’s extravagant murders as flesh-and-blood realities.
A desperate race to find literary gold, and just to stay alive. . . .
On the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. But before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead . . . murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father. Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, high-stakes treasure hunt.
From Romeo and Juliet we jump to another Shakespeare themed book, this one much more than the other. I find it deeply appealing to mix Shakespeare with a mystery and a scholar! Honestly, I love all about the premise of this book and could not resist putting it in this list. After all, a book can still have a little murder and take your breath away!
10. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is heartbroken, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs — yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
This last book is a very special suggestion, although it is not mine! This is a suggestion from my friend Camila, from Ecuador. She told me that this is a story about lovers re-finding themselves years after, 50 of them to be more specific, their torrid and passionate love affair. According to her, this is a very heartwarming story that will make you feel deeply. I do not want to say too much about it so I do not disclose too much of the plot. Many people already know about this story but, in this case, you can always rediscover it. For those who do not know it, like me, there is a whole tale waiting for us!
You can read this and more articles on my blog The Bewitched Reader! Also, please do check out my Instagram Page! You can find me @thebewitchedreader, I try to update it regularly so I can be more present in the bookish community ☻
Originally published at https://www.thebewitchedreader.com.