Literature serves as a way to process our feelings and the changes the new year will bring. After you take the time to reset and read these books, you'll feel fresh and ready to face new challenges.
I'm an indoorsy person, but when the weather is keeping me inside the house, all I want to do is go outside and explore the world. The impulse to go for a walk and take photographs of the streets or go for a drink with friends and meet new people surges intensely. The more distant and inconvenient something seems, the more we want it. But there's plenty of things we can do in our bedroom or living room that we don't have the time to do when we're busy and the possibilities seem endless. One of them is catching up with our reading list, our feelings, and the subtle things that are easy to ignore when we think we're too busy. These books are my personal favorites for those moments when we need a story to help us slow down and tune in with our thoughts when the distractions of Netflix numbs us down instead of stimulating us.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Yoshimoto's writing is both melancholic and mystical. In Kitchen, spirits inhabit houses, fragile romantic connections are created and lost among the apparently empty spaces the dead have left for the living. To take a break from the agitation of modern life read Kitchen under a warm blanket, or on the kitchen floor, where the protagonist of this emotional novel likes to sleep.
Tenth of December by George Saunders
The stories of Tenth of December match the weather and the nostalgic feelings of Christmas, and they'll make you cry and laugh at the same time. You can do it peacefully in your bedroom, with nobody watching you ugly crying. You can release the tears you kept inside throughout the year. Crying is healthy, and George Saunders' brilliant way of describing the mental states of flawed but deeply human characters will make you weep for our entire species.
Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner
This author will show you he's a poet in each paragraph. Another reason to read this novel during the cold days of winter is the fact that you'll feel like a tourist joining the socially anxious and panicky visitor around Spain. This novel has the best descriptions of anxiety I have ever read, and you'll understand your own insecurities better after reading it.
Brooklyn Follies, by Paul Auster
This novel is filled with interesting conversations. It will fulfill your social needs if you don’t feel like leaving the house. Paul Auster's novel is about the importance of nurturing your friendships and your family bonds to make life worth living even if the political climate is too chaotic.
The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
No one likes to cry in public but I think that's nonsense: I have a lot of feelings and I want to be able to cry anywhere without embarrassment. In case you still feel the need to cry when you're alone, I deeply recommend this book about love, grief, and memory. If you’re a little numb inside and you don’t know how to stimulate the tears, this story will probably make you sob.
Winter Hours, by Mary Oliver
Even if you’re sick of winter and you want it to end, Oliver’s poems will make you see the beautiful details of the season. Her poems are a wonderful meditation on nature and the power of observation: of paying close attention to the lives that surround us to discover the beauty we miss when we're in a hurry.
Ways of Going Home, by Alejandro Zambra
While this author doesn't necessarily depict beautiful situations or encounters, the rhythm and pace of his stories are mesmerizing. This particular novel is about a lost boy (and a lost man) who tries to find his way through a confusing history by remembering it and misremembering it with the help of fiction.
Bluets, by Maggie Nelson.
This book is about blue things, like distance and heartbreak. Nelson is an incredible collector of concepts and objects, and with those findings, she creates an emotional encyclopedia to tell the story of the end of a relationship. If winter's nostalgia makes you remember your old relationships, this book will be a great companion for you.
We all need to spend time alone as much as we need love and companionship. Literature serves as a way to process our feelings and the changes the new year will bring. After you take the time to reset and read these books, you'll feel fresh and ready to face new challenges, to reunite with other people and your own life with clearer eyes.
Here are other reads you'll enjoy: