The holiday season is upon us and with it comes darker days in the literal and, for many, the figurative sense, too. The late fall and winter seasons can be especially rough for people, especially when you consider that about 5% of U.S. adults experience seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression.
At a time that is dark for many, I thought it could be helpful to share some more uplifting books. They’re not holiday-related, but at the end of this post, you’ll also find several holiday book recs. There are books here for all ages and from different genres, including nonfiction.
Books That Deal with Seasonal Depression:
Feelings: A Story in Seasons by Manjit Thapp
[cw: mental illness, grief]
I like to return to Feelings every once in a while. The graphic novel follows a character whose emotions fluctuate with the seasons. It is a pleasant reminder that, like the seasons, feelings come and go, and we should simply hold space for those emotions while they’re there.
Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder by Norman E. Rosanthal, MD
I haven’t read Winter Blues and it seems out of my typical realm of nonfiction selections, but according to the contents, this book promises to help readers understand seasonal depression. It also offers treatment options, resources, and exercises that seem helpful.
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
[cw: fire/fire injury, sexual harassment]
Last summer, I picked up Legends and Lattes and found it to be a real treat. An orc barbarian decides to leave their life of quests and battles behind to open a coffee shop in a new place. The residents there have never heard of coffee, though. There are wonderful descriptions, and pastries are involved. While this is not a very plot-driven novel, it is a great one to pick up for the atmosphere. This would make for a great cozy read during the holiday season.
Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
[cw: bullying, grief, death of a parent]
Eva Evergreen is a charming middle-grade novel that follows Eva, a young witch with only a pinch of magic. Before she turns 13, she must earn her title of Novice Witch or lose her magic forever. This means a magical quest and a lot of work on her part, but she is up for the task in this story that reminded me so much of Kiki’s Delivery Service. This book is very sweet.
Tried and True Classics:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
[cw: death of a parent, death, grief, bullying, child abuse, misogyny, sexism]
Anne of Green Gables was the first book I read back in 2019 after taking a long break from reading classics. Anne is just the sweetest heroine, and her adventures are endearing. If you read this one, it might be fun to check out the Netflix adaptation, Anne with an E, as well.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
[cw: child death, death, grief, terminal illness, chronic illness]
While I have so much love and nostalgia for the 1994 film, I have never read Little Women! It is on my TBR for late fall/winter. The March family goes through so much, yet always manages to stick together and keep a hopeful outlook on life. I’d love to see how Jo and her writing journey play out in the novel.
Feel-Good Graphic Novels:
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
[cw: animal death, bullying, transphobia, domestic abuse, animal cruelty, toxic relationship, car accident, homophobia]
Snapdragon is a middle-grade graphic novel that follows Snap, a girl who lives in a community where everyone fears a local witch. Snap may or may not form an unlikely friendship with the town witch and discover things about her family she did not expect. This book is all about how beauty and connection can come from unlikely places. It left me in tears when I first read it, so be prepared with tissues for this one.
Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega
[cw: bullying, racism, body shaming, grief, emotional abuse, misogyny]
Frizzy is a recently released middle-grade graphic novel that follows a girl named Marlene, who decides to stop straightening her hair and embrace her natural curls with the support of her best friends and tia. I think it’s always a great time to celebrate our authenticity, and it’s never too early to start teaching children this. I’m looking forward to reading Frizzy soon!