Sci fi as self care
November 19, 2018 8:41 PM   Subscribe

I want sci fi or fantasy novels that are like a big, warm hug. Ideas?

I have a high needs baby, I’m on a restricted diet because I’m breastfeeding him and he has allergies, and a close friend recently told me a lot of hurtful things. Things will probably be fine and my life is great, but I’d like the literary equivalent of the comfort food I can’t eat right now and the bubble bath I don’t have time for.

I love Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Tamora Pierce, Becky Chambers, and John Scalzi. I loved Murderbot by Martha Wells but the first Raksura book is a little too moody for me right now. Happy Connie Willis is awesome, but dark Connie Willis is not my style. Please nothing where bad things happen to babies or young children. I don’t want nuanced, thought-provoking stuff unless it’s also super happy. Funny is great, but most important is unabashed happy endings that give you the warm fuzzies. Thank you!
posted by bananacabana to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
I thought Anne Leckie's Provenance was really funny and warm.

(Minor spoiler)
Some children are threatened but not harmed during the climactic scene.
posted by moonmilk at 8:47 PM on November 19, 2018

The Goblin Emperor! All problems are solved by the protagonist being kind and reading it feels like a hug.
posted by darchildre at 8:55 PM on November 19, 2018 [19 favorites]

The Goblin Emperor is amazing. I want more in a similar style :)
posted by Alensin at 9:03 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Diana Wynn Jones definitely scratches this itch! Howl’s Moving Castle is like a hot cup of tea. I’ve only read the first few books but I’d also recommend the Chrestomanci series.
posted by caitcadieux at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2018 [12 favorites]

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal

(Also, not a book but I've found Bob's Burgers the ideal comfort food when baby conks out and I get screen time.)

Good luck! Year 1 of Baby Greenland was rough but Year 2 has been an utter delight.
posted by greenland at 9:18 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you like Brandon Sanderson, I think you'll like The Name of the Wind and its sequel The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. In my opinion, they are unsurpassed among fantasy novels.
posted by EKStickland at 9:36 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Summon the Keeper is like Buffy only with more sillyness and a sarcastic talking cat. also, it's set in Kingston, Ontario.
posted by jb at 9:40 PM on November 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

I found the alternate history/future of Fire on the Mountain very comforting.
posted by latkes at 9:46 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann. It's about sheep who solve a murder mystery. It's delightful.
posted by Arctostaphylos at 9:56 PM on November 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Thirding The Goblin Emperor as a cozy, just-so book - it's the first thing that came to my mind when I read your question. And I would add The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - there is a little sadness but overall it was a surprisingly warm and touching take on the idea of a bunch of different people all aboard the same spaceship for a long time. Or if dragons are more your style, the first book in the Temerarie series, His Majesty's Dragon, is flat out charming.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:59 PM on November 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

Sorry, more sci-fi! Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan Howard. It's about a bookstore, and time travel.

I'm at home with a 4 year old. It does get better.
posted by Arctostaphylos at 10:01 PM on November 19, 2018

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have this entire space opera series known as the Liaden Universe. Sort of a cross between a Regency Novel, enough sci-fi to keep things interesting, and strong, attractive heroes and heroines. Also, cats, Clutch turtles, and a very large, very opinionated tree.

If you can handle the folksy nature of her voice, Mercedes Lackey is a very prolific writer, with some good solid world-building, and (usually) plenty of comfort food.

Mary Robinette Kowal wrote a very nice alternative Regency world, in which magic is real, and, more recently, branched out into an alternate- reality space exploration world with her Lady Astronaut series.
posted by dancing_angel at 10:59 PM on November 19, 2018 [10 favorites]

Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller?
There's a whole bunch of novels there and they're my go-to when I need a happy read: bad things do happen to good people there, but things all work out in the end.
posted by Arthur Dent at 11:01 PM on November 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

It's been a while since I've read them, but I remember Charles de Lint's Newford books as feeling pretty cosy. They're urban fantasy and feature friendship and community pretty highly. Maybe Spirits in the Wires?
posted by esker at 5:15 AM on November 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Diana Wynn Jones definitely scratches this itch! Howl’s Moving Castle is like a hot cup of tea.

Yes, this is exactly what I came in here to recommend! Rereading Howl's Moving Castle for the umpteenth time is my version of self-care.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes, Diana Wynne Jones! In addition to the books already mentioned, I'll add Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin.
posted by esker at 8:06 AM on November 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is perfect.
posted by tangosnail at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis - do not take this as a blanket recommendation of Connie Willis, as several of her other books are very sad and hopeless.

Nyota's Tyrannosaur by Stant Litore
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:16 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I found The Calculating Stars (Mary Robinette Kowal) to be quite distressing -- family separation and significant deaths in the first few chapters.

Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling hit a very Becky Chambers-like note for me.
posted by nonane at 12:27 PM on November 20, 2018

Seconding "To Say Nothing of the Dog," by Connie Willis.

For Fantasy novels, the late William Goldman's book "The Princess Bride," (which is an abridgement of the original work by S. Morgenstern) is a sweet and funny read, and is one of those books that is both better than -- which is not rare -- as well as will enhance your appreciation of the film adaptation. As for happy endings, you can hardly do better, since even the death, mid-story, of one of the romantic leads does not end the romance, nor make it weird.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Expendable, by James Allan Gardner. This is the beginning of a series of books, each complete in itself, all brilliant. All follow Festina Ramos's adventures in the universe in the service of the League of Peoples. No battles, just amazing worlds and characters, great storylines.
posted by Enid Lareg at 2:58 PM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love Name of The Wind, but it can be dark and fails the "nothing bad happening to children" requirement.

Charles DeLint and Terry Pratchett are both great choices. My favorite of the DeLint books is "Someplace to be Flying"

John Scalzi's "Lock In" is also a fun story.
posted by nalyd at 3:08 PM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also came in to say Diana Wynne Jones; adding A Sudden Wild Magic and Deep Secret. (That is a terrible cover in the Wiki article.)
posted by paduasoy at 12:38 AM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Squirrel Girl books are definitely like a warm hug. Book 1 is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

Seconding the Liaden universe.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Mercedes Lackey -- particularly the Bedlam's Bard series. Also, I seem to remember Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series dwelling in the space you crave, though it's been a LOOOOONG time since I've read it.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:33 AM on November 21, 2018

Thirding the Liaden books, particularly the first 3.

Here are some of my "comfort read" books:
The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Tea With the Black Dragon by R. A. McAvoy
Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly
The Innkeeper Chronicles series by Ilona Andrews
Linnea Sinclair writes SF romances. The Down Home Zombie Blues is one of the lighter ones.
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling
posted by gudrun at 7:49 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

David Eddings - The Pawn of Prophecies series is a lot of fun.
posted by gt2 at 7:31 AM on November 23, 2018

Kaia Sønderby's book Damsel to the Rescue seems like it might fit. It both uses and subverts a lot of fantasy tropes, and teamwork and friendship are important themes.
posted by Lexica at 6:52 PM on November 23, 2018

Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Spinning Silver were AMAZING! Both have kind of secksay relationships going on as well as general badassery from the heroines. Very positive, upbeat books that are all about strong women, strong families, and love.
posted by vacuumsealed at 7:05 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Beauty by Robin Mckinley is absolutely delightful. My go to comfort book. Made even lovelier by the fact that it tosses out the cliched evil step sisters, replacing them with a loving and supportive family for Beauty. Also, The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell, is this gentle, beautiful treasure of a book. I highly reccomend both of them to you. They sound like exactly what you are asking for.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:05 PM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

William Goldman's book "The Princess Bride," (which is an abridgement of the original work by S. Morgenstern)

Wait, you know there isn't really an S. Morgenstern, right?
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:06 PM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go into the children's section and recommend The Wind in the Willows.
posted by storybored at 9:32 PM on November 26, 2018

Response by poster: You guys are amazing, thank you! Marking bookdragoness’s answer as best because I just tore through the Squirrel Girl books and they were just like a warm hug, but I can’t wait to explore all these great suggestions!
posted by bananacabana at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2018

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