The best comfort books when you’re depressed

The Books I Picked & Why

Just William

By Richmal Crompton, Thomas Henry

Book cover of Just William

Why this book?

Set during the Second World War, these hilarious stories are about William, a young boy who has a very strong sense of himself. I identify with the scruffy, rebellious William. He’s always in trouble but has very passionate reasons for doing the things he does. The adult world baffles him, he’s the head of a gang that he leads, with his logic, into all kinds of scrapes. The world is unjust and he has to fit in with incomprehensible family values and oppose terrors like the vile and spoilt Violet Elizabeth Bott. I cheer for William against his older siblings and against the world that just doesn’t understand.


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All Systems Red

By Martha Wells

Book cover of All Systems Red

Why this book?

Murderbot is another misfit, out of step with his world and how he’s meant to be. He’s a killer robot who has free will about how he behaves. He chooses to use his lethal abilities to help a group of people who’ve been targeted for assassination by a large corporation. Murderbot, who doesn’t understand human emotions uses his knowledge of drama series to navigate the human world and makes friends, which should be impossible for him. I love this character’s eccentricities and independence of mind, he makes me feel less strange myself.


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Cold Comfort Farm

By Stella Gibbons

Book cover of Cold Comfort Farm

Why this book?

When I’m depressed I feel utterly helpless, so reading this story about a woman transforming a grim farm into a happy home is deeply reassuring. Flora Poste is a progressive young woman who goes to live with her cousins in the country. She uses her imagination to transform the gloomy life of each of her relatives, including Aunt Ada Doom ‘who saw something nasty in the woodshed’. The solutions are delightfully modern and cheering.


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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Intimate Diary of a Professional Lady

By Anita Loos

Book cover of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Intimate Diary of a Professional Lady

Why this book?

I’m drawn to cheeky independent-minded people and Lorelei, the gold-digging flapper (played by Marilyn Monroe in the film of the name) is exactly that. Her most famous saying is: ‘A kiss on the hand may make you feel very nice, but a diamond and sapphire bracelet lasts forever.’ She embarks on a tour of Europe, which she assesses according to her own values. She meets Sigmund Freud, who wants to analyse her, but he finds it impossible because she’s so healthy. The humour is infectious and unforgettable.


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Piranesi

By Susanna Clarke

Book cover of Piranesi

Why this book?

This award-winning fantasy novel is mysterious and full of wonders in exactly the way a depressed person can take in – maybe because the author herself suffers from a chronic condition. Piranesi keeps a diary and lives in an expanding palace with an infinite number of rooms and an indoor sea. The sense of amazement is catching and deeply satisfying, if you’re confined to bed or to your own house. 


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