No cabin fever here! Find your inner hygge inside these novels bound to keep you company.

By Seija Rankin
January 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
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The Marches’ Massachusetts home might just be the coziest setting in all of literature. The fireplaces! The laughter! The breakfast spreads! It’s Marmee’s way.

Credit: Penguin Books

Picture this: a luxury hotel, surrounded by the streets of Moscow glimmering with snow, and the Bolsheviks. The story of Count Alexander Rostov, who has been sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest in the Metropol Hotel, puts a thrilling spin on our current, house-bound, predicaments. 

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Gather ye knit blankets and dive into the snowiest of snowy woods, for nothing says winter more than Narnia. 

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It's not so much the plot of this classic Christie novel — a group of travelers stuck on a train barreling through Eastern Europe as Hercule Poirot tries to deduce who among them is a killer — isn't as literally cozy so much as it evokes the feeling of sitting in a leather chair in an old-timey library, surrounded by mugs of tea and dusty old hardcovers. 

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A romance in the fullest sense of the phrase, Josie Silver's bestseller about a slightly ill-fated love triangle has cozy right there in the title (December is the coziest month after all)!

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An HP marathon is most fitting for the winter months, but we find that the debut — with its low-level wizardry drama and adorable Hogwarts hijinks — is hygge at its finest. 

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It wouldn't be a discussion of cozy books without a few campus novels in the mix, and Donna Tartt's epic tome is perhaps the foremost of the genre. The scenery is so quaint the reader almost forgets that there's murder afoot. 

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Picture The Secret History but amongst a campus so battened down that contact with the outside world is essentially prohibited. You can practically smell the dusty old books and freshly sharpened pencils. 

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Hygge doesn't have to happen in the winter; it's a feeling, after all, and one that's often most easily summoned by wonderful characters. Gabel's debut, which follows a quartet of classical musicians as they make it big, will expand your heart in the best way possible. 

No, this isn't a cookbook, but it's just as wholesome. It uses food — a single dish for each chapter — to tell the story of multiple generations of a Minnesotan family. 

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What is it about London that evokes such coziness? In Hornby's latest, he centers his story around the budding connection between a 41-year-old teacher and mother of two and the 22-year-old man she hires to babysit.

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A novel that takes place on Puget Sound, in the Pacific Northwest, at a home named Willowbrook Manor is bound to soothe, even if it does include its fair share of tennis scenes. 

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A quaint Hudson Valley town, an endearing matriarch, a goat cheese farm — Straub's modern saga of a complicated family web is a literary security blanket. 

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As the world was reminded during the most recent inauguration, we just feel better when we're in Michelle Obama's presence. There's no cozier feeling than hunkering down with her 2018 memoir — except maybe hunkering down with the audiobook version, which she narrates herself. 

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A long, lonely winter’s night is best spent in the literary company of fascinating women — Popkey's novel is one long string on conversations between women about their innermost lives. We call this intellectual coziness. 

Credit: Cover image: Linda Bianucci

After the fascination surrounding her earlier memoirs Just Friends and M Train, reading Patti Smith is like visiting with an old friend. Here, she details time spent on the Northern California coast, a setting ripe for its own rugged coziness. 

We were hard-pressed to narrow down Smith's body of work to one singular cozy tome — while her novels may center on all sorts of strife and complication, they do take place in London — but the way she swooped in to our quarantined lives with this surprise essay collection that manages to convey exactly what we were all feeling, yet couldn't quite articulate, was the ultimate form of comfort.  

Credit: Penguin

Every book rec list needs at least one oddball addition; while a story of a woman self-medicating to such an extreme degree that she goes under for weeks at a time might not scream feel-good, it's certainly reflective of These Times. Who among us wouldn't take their hygge in the unconscious realm?

A version of this story appears in the February issue of Entertainment Weekly, which you can order here — one cover features LaKeith Stanfield and the other Daniel Kaluuya — or find on newsstands now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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