A few weeks ago, I was disturbed and enraged when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. Normally I can tune out the news when needed, but that day was a struggle. I had an overwhelming sense of heartbreak for the people of childbearing potential who have lost a basic human right because they no longer have access to important healthcare. I was also afraid of what other rights we may see taken away next. It is insane that my husband and I had a conversation about what would happen if same-sex marriages were no longer nationally recognized. While we luckily live in Connecticut where same sex marriages will likely always remain in place, would my husband’s permanent residency still be valid if our marriage was no longer federally recognized? Alas, these are dark times here in the US. I needed some time to escape and relax with comforting books and tv shows. I want to share a list of content that has helped distract me from the current shitshow in the states.
One of my reading resolutions for 2022 was to read more feel-good books. Below is a list of wholesome content that I enjoy. Two of the items are not books, but book adaptations so I think it counts! It’s interesting that in my late teens and early 20’s I gravitated towards darker books and tv shows. But in my late 20’s I’ve grown appreciation for feel good stories. In these dark times we no longer need to turn to fiction for horror. Reading offers a refuge when things become overwhelming. I’m not suggesting we all ignore our problems and read 3 books a day (though I wish I could), but there’s value in taking a break to immerse ourselves in comforting stories.
Camp by L.C. Rosen – Camp takes place at a queer summer camp for teens. Randell, a musical theater enthusiast, remakes himself for the upcoming summer. He creates a new identity “Del”. Del is a buff, straight acting jock, who has no interest in musicals. Randell / Del has made this transformation to catch the attention of Hudson his crush, who is only into “masc” guys. While the moral of the novel was obvious from the start, I was surprised at how invested I became in Randell and Hudson’s romance. This is an excellent YA book that exposes the problems of toxic masculinity in the gay community.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I’ve already recommended this book a few times on the blog, but once more can’t hurt! This is an excellent enemies-to-lovers romance between Alex, the son of the president of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of England. The characters have excellent banter that ratchets up the sexual tension. I cannot wait for the release of the movie adaptation!
The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers – I’ve only read the first two books in The Wayfarers Series. This is feel-good science fiction with a diverse and super loveable cast of characters. Chambers’ feature beings of different species working together while celebrating their cultural differences. Each book focuses on a different group of characters, but all within the same universe.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn is the first novel in a fantasy trilogy. I wouldn’t call this story feel-good; it takes place in a dark, violent world where likeable characters die. But this is certainly an excellent escapist read. Sanderson’s worldbuilding makes this an immersive story, without being overly complicated like other fantasy novels. I loved the magic system and many of the characters. I think a fair comparison is Brandon Sanderson’s writing is the fantasy book version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Heartstopper on Netflix (adapted from Alice Oseman’s books) – My husband and I binged Heartstopper in one weekend and loved it so much. This series is superior to all the other queer teen tv shows I’ve seen (especially Love Victor, ugh). The story follows the romance between Charlie an out gay teen and Nick, a rugby player coming to terms with his bisexuality. Unlike many other shows the show makes it clear that the problems Nick and Charlie face stem from society’s failure to accept queer people, not from being queer. I cannot recommend this show enough!
Hunter x Hunter (adapted from Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga) – This year I’ve had the pleasure of discovering the wonders of anime. Currently I am making my way through Hunter x Hunter. This anime follows Gon and his young friends, who are hunters, licensed professionals who seek fantastical items, on a series of whimsical adventures. While Hunter x Hunter has some dark themes, Gon’s overwhelmingly optimistic spirit and innocence make this count as wholesome content. Gon and Killua’s friendship is everything and Hisoka is an excellent villain. I’ve only watched through the Greed Island arc so please no spoilers!