16 books to make you feel comfortable, from Winnie-the-Pooh to Sally Rooney’s latest novel


Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich

Dance in the streets chronicles society’s built-in ability to self-regulate – to let go of steam en masse – and the parallel struggle of religion and government to suppress it. The joyous chaos of the medieval party for fools, for example, has long since disappeared – but in 2022, when mass gatherings are still filled with a ghost of infection, it feels more important than ever to revisit the well-established pressure valve.

Granta Books, £ 9.99

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

They struggle to put the promised in relation to reality, and the millennial protagonists in Sally Rooney’s latest novel map the choppy sea of ​​self-fulfillment in a modern world. What is the point of being a successful creative when climate change threatens the planet? Is it immoral to bring a child into a world where the pandemic has made life feel flimsy? When the connection is all that is left, a beautiful world is available to those who can endure building it.

Faber & Faber, £ 16.99

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

In an attempt to reconcile the horrors of mortality with our incorrigible tendency to exaggerate, Dr. Faustus’ agreement with the Devil the purchases we make with ourselves every day. Five hundred years have passed since Marlowe wrote his infamous play, but the desire to live forever is eternal. Now as then, spectators can only fantasize that some supernatural collector will one day come and knock.

Methuen Drama, £ 9.99

A life of its own by Marion Milner

In writing A life of its own, psychoanalyst Marion Milner examined her journals, memories, and inclinations for clues to the eternal question: what makes us happy? The wisdom she finds is widely applicable, her writing as gripping as any detective story.

Routledge, £ 26.99

Mating in captivity by Esther Perel

Psychoanalyst Esther Perel’s groundbreaking book addresses monogamy and radically reclassifies the boundaries within which society prescribes our most intimate exchanges, paving the way for something more realistic.

Hodder & Stoughton, £ 9.99

The Girls by Emma Cline

Emma Cline’s debut in 2016 of a Charlie-Manson-like cult ends in murder – but of course cults do not start that way. Cline’s teenage protagonist, Evie, seeks the meaning that everyone strives for; she happens to find it in a municipality. The girls exemplifies the uncomfortably thin line between healthy and unhealthy conditions.

Vintage Publishing, £ 8.99

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s short story from 1943, which is loved by both adults and children, takes place in the Sahara desert. There, a stranded pilot meets the mysterious and lovable Little Prince, who tells him about his home planet and his travels through the universe since he left it. The little Prince is about love and loneliness, but – as the prince to his dismay discovers – it is also about the sparkling clarity of childhood and the barriers to joy we put on our own paths as we get older.

Egmont, £ 12.99

Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne

The first in AA Milne’s series of children’s books, the 1926s Winnie the Pooh introduced the world to his titular character, his friends Tigger and Grisling – and Christopher Robin, based on Milne’s own son. Their adventure moves through a world with children’s eyes and is framed with penetrating pure logic. A prayer for enjoyment in the little things.

Egmont, £ 14.99

The Tao of Plush by Benjamin Hoff

Written in the evenings and weekends while working as a woodcutter, Benjamin Hoff’s Plys Tao uses AA Milne’s original creations to explain the philosophy of Taoism. Hoff’s eminently readable touch of happiness, which speaks of beloved child characters, proves that it does not have to be such a mystery – on the contrary, the key to unlocking it has always been in our simplest stories.

Egmont, £ 8.99

On Freedom by Maggie Nelson

Are joy and freedom the same? How can we reconcile our desire for joy in the present with the misery it can inflict on future generations? Filled with critical theory and pressing questions, On Freedom provides richly rewarding answers.

Vintage Publishing, £ 20

Eleanor Oliphant is perfectly fine with Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant has been working at the same job since she left university nine years ago. Her weekdays are identical (except Wednesdays when she calls mom), and her weekends are similarly indescribable. As such, it does not take much to move her from existing to living and from “fine” to something more like “fulfilled”. Refreshingly enough, Honeyman does not expose his heroine to romantic love as a cure – rather, Eleanor’s happiness comes from the kindness of others.

HarperCollins Publishers, £ 8.99

Bridget Jones’s Diary of Helen Fielding

Structured as year-long diary entries, Bridget Jones’s diary apparently (un) states happiness as something that can be measured every morning on weight, in calories ingested and cigarettes regretted – but do not be fooled: before she turns to novels, Fielding was a journalist (Bridget Jones Diary actually began in her column for The independent) and satirizing the tyranny of glossy leaves was always part of Fielding’s project. When we stop counting the numbers of life (fat burning, consumed units), what is not quantifiable – happiness, love – comes into focus.

Picador, £ 8.99

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Measuring a life for weeks makes it seem offendingly short – which is exactly why the former is Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman has chosen to do just that in the title of his new book, Four thousand weeks. Burkeman tackles the increasingly pressing crisis of imbalance between work and private life in an era of homework and 24-hour connectivity, and offers practical solutions to problems that might otherwise seem too monolithic to separate. Don’t worry, your to-do list will still be there tomorrow.

Bodley Head, £ 16.99

Second place by Rachel Cusk

Drawing at Mabel Dodge’s Lorenzo and Taos, the main character in Second place by Rachel Cusk is obsessed with removing some nameless psychic dam in itself. By inviting the painter L to stay, a kind of unofficial artist residence, M hopes that his unique insight can prove to be precisely the instrument to set her free. Second place is breathtaking and breathtaking; here happiness disappears as soon as it is sought, like a shadow in direct sunlight.

Faber & Faber, £ 14.99

Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield

The title story from Katherine Mansfield’s collection from 1920 begins with hostess Bertha’s rushing expectation of a party; her lively mood only intensifies when the guests arrive, including a woman named Pearl. As the evening draws to a close, Bertha witnesses an embrace between Pearl and her husband: the bliss she has felt throughout the evening is suddenly reconfigured, yet the pear tree she loves remains as beautiful as ever. Joy is fleeting, but as Mansfield reminds us, that’s what makes it valuable.

Echo Library, £ 8.90

My year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Hos Ottessa Moshfegh My year of rest and relaxation, a socialist in New York – beautiful, young, intolerable – stretches her use of prescription drugs to its limits and escalates her intake until she dozes off her life. After nearly two years of the pandemic, My Year feels more warningly a tale than ever; at least happiness demands that we stay awake to its possibility.

Vintage Publishing, £ 9.99

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