Well, it’s January 3rd and for me that means it’s officially hibernation season. It’s cold, it’s dark when you wake up, it’s dark when you leave work and there’s no more exciting holiday events to make the snow, cold and darkness feel celebratory. It just feels…dark and cold.
There’s only one thing I like as much as hunkering down in hibernation mode with a solid Saturday afternoon 8-hour Netflix binge, and that’s a solid Saturday afternoon book-reading binge.
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I’ve always loved to read, ever since I was a kid and I can still read a book in one sitting. My favorite books tend to be of the chick-lit genre, and I say that proudly. I love a good escapist book, books that are comforting and happy and leaves me smiling. Isn’t that the goal of a relaxing activity, after all? But I do also enjoy a good science-fiction book, fantasy book, YA book or action-thriller.
Alas, now that Friends has officially left Netflix (*crying*) I have a lot of extra relaxing time to fill (What, do productive things on the weekends and at night like cleaning, laundry, and budgeting? Bah!) and in case you do too, or if your 2020 New Year’s resolution is to read more, I’m rounding up my top recommendations for the best binge-worthy book series to read this winter.
THE SHOPAHOLIC SERIES BY SOPHIE KINSELLA
Perfect For: Reminding yourself (and your bank account) that the holidays are over, and you really don’t need a third pair of black boots.
The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella is probably one of my favorite series of all time. The series follows the life of Becky Bloomwood, a plucky young woman who has a healthy appreciation for (okay, addiction to) shopping. She gets herself into some truly hilarious situations and I always look forward to finding out how she’ll get herself out of them. Becky is so likable and the books are just feel-good funny entertainment. I’ve read them all multiple times!
CRAZY RICH ASIANS TRILOGY BY KEVIN KWAN
Perfect For: Reminding yourself that after spending too much time with your family over the holidays, your family isn’t that crazy.
If you haven’t read this series yet, loosely based on personal experiences of the author and people he knows in the old-money vs new money world of Asian billionaire social politics, it’s definitely time. Of course, the movie version made a big splash in 2019 but I have to say, the books are far far better. While I found the movie entertaining, I thought it defaulted to a lot of lowest-common-denominator slapstick comedy and Asian stereotypes, while the books were extremely clever, satirical and well-written. Crazy Rich Asians follows the love story of Nick and Rachel, who get caught up in Nick’s family drama and meddling relatives when they visit Nick’s home in Singapore for a friend’s wedding.
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES (ALL SOULS TRILOGY) BY DEBORAH HARKNESS
Perfect For: Fans of fantasy genres who want to read something a little more grown-up than Twilight.
I started this series when I saw the TV adaptation on the Sundance Channel, and decided I wanted to read the books prior to giving the show a try. At first, I admit I wasn’t sure I would like the series, as it got off to quite a slow start but soon I was enthralled. I found myself constantly thinking Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, the former a witch who wants nothing to do with her powers and the latter a mysterious, ancient vampire. There’s magic, time travel, reflection on the origin of species, a mini genetics lesson and more in this fascinating re-imagination of what our world might be like if witches, vampires and daemons mingled with humans in our everyday lives, as well as an exploration of “if they do exist, maybe we’re not so different after all.” My only criticism is that I do find some questions were left insufficiently explained (I tend to like neat and tidy narratives) almost as if the author created a mythology so complicated she herself couldn’t fully explain it. Also be warned, this is no Buffy/Angel, Bella/Edward, Elena/Stefan/Damon teenage romance, there is sex, violence and some gore. I am notoriously squeamish when it comes to gore though and I was able to manage those scenes.
THE STYLIST AND THE STYLIST TAKES MANHATTAN BY ROSIE NIXON
Perfect For: Preparing for awards season and fashion week.
I love a good “insider’s peek into X industry…” and The Stylist and The Stylist Takes Manhattan does not disappoint with its where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire descriptions of the world of celebrity styling. Amber Green is working in a hip London shop that is occasionally frequented by top celebrity stylist Mona Armstrong. When Mona impulsively offers Amber a job, she takes it and is thrown headfirst into the not-so-glamorous world of celebrity styling. Amber realizes this so-called glamorous job really means acting as part babysitter, part therapist, part errand girl and all superwoman as she fights to save both her and Mona’s careers.
ME BEFORE YOU TRILOGY BY JOJO MOYES
Perfect For: When you’re in the mood for a love story, minus the cheese, cliches and predictable plot.
God, I love these books. I laughed, I cried, I hoped and yearned and l simply could not put these books down. This is the story of Louisa Clark, a seemingly perfectly ordinary girl living a small life in a small English village. Until, that is, she takes a job as a caretaker for paraplegic Will Trainor, who before his accident, was a perfectly extraordinary man living a very big life in big-city London. Will can’t possibly imagine that Louisa could have anything to teach him about life but as he opens her eyes to the world of possibilities in front of her, she manages to give him a few lessons of her own. What Louisa learns from Will and what she discovers about own dreams carry through the second and third books. unconditional love, loss and learning to live again. Jojo Moyes writes a beautiful and complex love story trilogy about unconditional love, loss and learning to live again.
QUEEN OF BABBLE TRILOGY BY MEG CABOT
Perfect For: The ‘adult’ who’s still (not so) secretly a YA novel fanatic.
The Queen of Babble series is a slightly grown-up but really glorified YA novel by Meg Cabot. And that makes these books even more, not less, entertaining and funny. If you love weddings (aspiring wedding dress designer Lizzie Nichols is the star of the series), can commiserate with trying to make it in New York City or just want a fun, easy series to relax with, these books are for you. Lizzie is following her heart from a summer in France where she meets – or thinks she meets – the love of her life, Luke to New York where they hastily move in together in book 2. As Lizzie struggles to find her place in the city, she starts to wonder if her and Luke are growing together or growing apart. An easy read and a reminder that “perfect on paper” isn’t necessarily what’s perfect for you.
MORE IDEAS FOR BOOKS WORTH BINGE-READING THIS WINTER
Still craving more binge-worthy books to read? Below are a few additional recommendations, some I have read and liked and some that are still in my queue!
I really need to get around to reading these before finally (I know, I know!) watching the Netflix movie.
Any book described as “Harry Potter with a shot of whisky” has me intrigued!
An “inside look” at the scandalous world of club promoters and what they’ll do to get celebrities into their clubs, this YA series was a decently entertaining escape but not quite as page-turning as I’d hoped.
What are your favorite book series to binge-read? I’m always looking for recommendations so let me know in the comments below!
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