Cozy winter reads to warm your exam-addled heart


Shreya Jagannathan

Engaging in hobbies like reading is a great mood booster when you’re feeling bogged down.

Indra Deshmukh, Copy Editor

As the days grow shorter and finals week looms nearer, we’re all searching for tiny moments of lighthearted comfort to fend off the stress. If you feel crushed by the pressure or just need a short and sweet read, look no further: these delightful 2022 book releases will immerse you in that cozy winter feeling that melts away all your woes.

“Legends & Lattes” by Travis Baldtree

“Legends & Lattes” is like the nostalgic game Papa’s Bakeria, but as a fantasy book: an enchanting little world without the strain of high-stakes adventures and battles.

Travis Baldtree’s debut novel follows Viv, an orc, who retires from her action-packed life as a hired fighter to open up a magical coffee shop. As she pursues her dream, Viv encounters a medley of new customers and friends, from clever succubus Tandri to shy baker Thimble to Amity, an enormous but loving dire-cat.

If you’re looking for a suspense-filled plot or mind-blowing writing, this isn’t the book for you. Viv swears off violence in an effort to bury her past, and much of the action consists of deciding what new biscuit flavor the shop needs. But the heart of “Legends & Lattes” blossoms in its central themes: new beginnings, found family, healing from your past. Viv’s welcoming coffee shop invites readers to sit back, relax and spend a little time getting to know her charming world.

“How to Excavate a Heart” by Jake Maia Arlow

For those craving a cute holiday rom-com, the book “How to Excavate a Heart,” described as a sapphic Jewish Hallmark movie, is bound to satisfy. After getting disastrously dumped just days before winter break, college freshman Shani is determined to let nothing distract her from her paleoichthyology internship—until she hits May with her car and their lives become suddenly entangled.

Shani is a lovable heroine, equipped with sarcastic humor, a passion for fossils and a propensity to get caught in awkward situations. As she and May grow begrudgingly closer through a series of unlikely coincidences, it’s hard not to root for their adorable relationship. But Arlow doesn’t shy away from darker topics either, deftly handling Shani’s struggles with heartbreak, family relationships and sexual assault.

“How to Excavate a Heart” is a coming-of-age story as much as a romance. It’s a celebration of identity and love, and a gentle reminder that everything is going to be okay.

“Lavender House” by Lev AC Rosen

Nothing pulls you out of a reading slump like a fast-paced, character-focused mystery with a queer historical twist.

Nothing pulls you out of a reading slump like a fast-paced, character-focused mystery with a queer historical twist. “Lavender House” combines the intrigue of “Knives Out” with the atmosphere of “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” to create a vivid, irresistable story.

Set in 1950s San Francisco, “Lavender House” follows former cop Evander “Andy” Mills, recently fired from the SFPD after being caught in a gay bar, where he had been investigating the mysterious death of business matriarch Irene Lamontaine. Andy becomes privy to the Lamontaine family home, Lavender House: a secret haven where queer people can freely be themselves. But as he forms surprising connections, he is drawn into the family’s web of secrets and sabotage.

Though the mystery itself ends predictably, it’s the characters that sparkle, especially their relationships. The Lamontaines aren’t blood relatives, but have forged their own unconventional family. There’s a mutual understanding and affirmation between queer people that stems from their shared experiences, and Rosen weaves it expertly through the narrative, keeping you invested in the future of this community.

As we face the gloomy winter months, uplifting comfort media is a meaningful way to escape seasonal misery. These three novels are quick reads from debut authors; they have their flaws, but a book need not be perfect to bring joy. Sometimes you’re just seeking a 300-page escape from your problems, and that’s exactly what they provide: a message of hope and good cheer that sticks with you through the dark times.