The best comfort books to break you out of a reading slump

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary romance writer with two novels: No Hard Feelings and Crushing, stories about complex, messy women making mistakes and learning from them. As I work on my third novel, I'm remembering how hard it is to write when you're in a reading rut. Sometimes every book I pick up is disappointing, and reading feels like a chore, and I risk losing momentum. Sometimes I need something familiar to get back on track and remember why I love my job. These books feel like a long exhale. I can come to them with an overloaded brain, bad moods and doubt and discontent, and turn the last page restored.

I wrote...


By Genevieve Novak,

Book cover of Crushing

What is my book about?

Sharp, silly, angry, and hopeful, Crushing explores all kinds of love, infatuation, identity crises, and bad choices. Marnie Fowler, a serial monogamist in reform, is set on figuring out who she is and what she wants without the distraction of yet another unsatisfying romantic entanglement – but what happens when a deliciously unavailable crush shows up and drags her off-course? What is she going to do when her housemate/best friend/emotional support extrovert strays down the wrong path? How will her beloved cafe and delightfully grouchy boss survive in post-pandemic Melbourne?

A love letter to female friendship and a blistering portrayal of the ugliest, most earnest parts of ourselves, Crushing reads the way a bottle of wine with your best friend feels.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of You and Me on Vacation

Genevieve Novak Why did I love this book?

What comfort library would be complete without Emily Henry?

I’ll read anything she writes, but Poppy and Alex’s love story is the stuff of my dreams. Friends to lovers, split timelines, and more yearning than I know what to do with Seamlessly blending humour and heart and set between Palm Springs, New York, Italy, and somewhere in the sedate American midwest, You and Me on Vacation was the antidote to my mid-lockdown claustrophobia.

I like to read my fluff on the treadmill – it keeps my brain more occupied than music or podcasts, so I’m less likely to remember how much I hate working out – and it was so delicious I found myself looking forward to time at the gym. A true feat.

By Emily Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You and Me on Vacation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two friends. Ten trips. Their last chance to fall in love...


'One of my favourite authors' Colleen Hoover, It Ends With Us
'A gorgeous romance' Beth O'Leary, The No-Show
'Loveable characters, hilarious wit and steamy sexual chemistry' Laura Jane Williams, Our Stop

*Also known as People We Meet On Vacation*

12 YEARS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they'll never speak again.

11 YEARS AGO: They're forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.…

Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Genevieve Novak Why did I love this book?

There’s no one better at building a rich, cosy world than Towles, and this is some of his best work to date.

Blame my lifelong preoccupation with the Russian revolution and desire to be a housebound recluse, but a book where our protagonist is a member of the bourgeoisie under house arrest in a once-glamorous hotel in Bolshevik Russia, slowly building a family of misfits and discovering unromantic love – well, I can’t think of anything that speaks to me more.

I came across this book at a particularly stressful time in my life when anxiety would fuel insomnia, and I’d often sit awake, inconsolable, for sometimes thirty hours at a time. A Gentleman in Moscow, with its delicate prose and ambling observations, was a balm.

I’d sit in bed with a cup of sleepytime tea, calming oil hissing out of my scent diffuser, soft piano instrumentals playing through a speaker, and a strict no-screens-after-six-pm rule, and get lost in the corridors of the Hotel Metropol until my brain registered that we were safe. Now every time I see it on my shelf, I smell lavender and feel at ease.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…

Book cover of The Lessons

Genevieve Novak Why did I love this book?

While not exactly a light read – it contains adult explorations of trauma and violence – Purcell’s writing is drum-tight and entirely absorbing.

This book broke my months-long reading slump and writer's block, reminding me that all it takes to fall in love with stories again is one really, really good one. I’m not much of an annotator, but the pages of my copy are splattered with pen, most often exclamation marks and underlines and obscene exclamations of enthusiasm and grief.

Split between multiple perspectives, locations, and decades, The Lessons is a heart-wrenching romance without fluff, tropes, and suspended disbeliefs. A story of expectations and disappointments, promises and betrayals, it’s full of sharp observations about writing and writers, social constructs, and human behaviour.

I devoured it in days, and can’t wait to forget all the details so I can come back to it and fall in love all over again.

By John Purcell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lessons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if your first love was your one and only chance of happiness? In our lives, some promises are easily forgotten, while others come to haunt us with tragic results. From the bestselling author of The Girl on the Page comes The Lessons, a compelling novel about love and betrayal.

1961: When teens Daisy and Harry meet, it feels so right they promise to love each other forever, but in 1960s England everything is stacked against them: class, education, expectations. When Daisy is sent by her parents to live with her glamorous, bohemian Aunt Jane, a novelist working on her…

Book cover of Really Good, Actually

Genevieve Novak Why did I love this book?

Someone call the police, because Heisey has broken into my brain, looked around, and written a story containing every thought I’ve ever had.

There’s nothing quite like feeling seen on the page to make you feel less alone as you flounder, break down, circle the drain, and look down the barrel of total oblivion, and it’s a rare privilege to find a story that does all of this with wit and warmth.

The term “sad girl lit” gets thrown around a lot, and while no one could accuse protagonist Maggie of being happy (or content, or even stable), Heisey resists the sinkhole of self-pity and exhausting melancholy that so often turns books in this niche into a chore.

Self-destructive yet self-aware women who make all the worst decisions and come to their own rescue – unite!

By Monica Heisey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Really Good, Actually as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No. 2 SUNDAY TIMES Bestseller An Observer Best Debut of the Year 'Intoxicating ... heralds a really good author to watch' The Times 'Hilarious and profound' Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love 'Wildly funny and almost alarmingly relatable' Marian Keyes, author of Again, Rachel 'Monica Heisey is a genius' Nina Stibbe, author of Reasons to be Cheerful

One of the most hotly anticipated, hilarious and addictive debut novels of 2023, from Schitt's Creek and Workin' Moms screenwriter and electric new voice in fiction, Monica Heisey.

I feel like when you get a divorce everyone's wondering how…

Book cover of The Rachel Incident

Genevieve Novak Why did I love this book?

A master of the flawed and loveable heroine, O’Donoghue’s writing is both deeply comforting and immensely frustrating – because every wry observation is so relatable I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first.

Exploring life in GFC-era Ireland through the wide eyes of a broke, experience-hungry university student and floundering graduate, this story is a tribute to friendship, self discovery, and all the missteps of newfound freedom.

The deeper into the story I went, the closer I felt to my eighteen-year-old self: naive and desperate not to be, nervous about the power in the currency of youth and eager to spend it, full of love and pride and optimism.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy so I can slap sticky tabs on every page and recall every sparkling insight, quippy conversation, and touching moment.

By Caroline O'Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rachel Incident as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Rachel Incident is an all-consuming love story. But it's not the one you expected...


'Funny, nostalgic, sexy ... it's everything I want in a summer book' MONICA HEISEY
'Funny, LOVELY, romantic, DRENCHED in nostalgia' MARIAN KEYES
'You will love The Rachel Incident' GABRIELLE ZEVIN, author of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

The Rachel Incident is an all-consuming love story. But it's not the one you're expecting. It's unconventional and messy. It's young and foolish. It's about losing and finding yourself. But it is always about love.

When Rachel falls in love with her married…

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By S.M. Stevens,

Book cover of The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

S.M. Stevens Author Of The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

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Why am I passionate about this?

Author Animal lover Renewable energy advocate Alternative music lover Mother

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What is my book about?

Activist Xander Wallace and his straitlaced father do not have an easy relationship. Jim’s views on race, immigration, gender, sexuality, and even Millennials alienate his son no matter how hard Xander tries to find common ground. Toss in Jim’s second marriage ten months after Xander’s mother died, and it’s a volatile cocktail. How, against this backdrop, will Xander ever dare to bare his soul and reveal his greatest secret?

Winner of a 2023 American Fiction Award, a First Place prize in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and a 5-Star Readers’ Favorite review.

The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

By S.M. Stevens,

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