You curled up in your bed on election night and have only come out for food and other necessities. We get it. Things are pretty bleak right now, and it’s difficult to face the grim future of Trump’s America. So what better time to find solace in a good book? Here’s a handful of comfortable fantasy and sci-fi novels that will offer nostalgia, escape, distraction, and hope to get you through the coming days and years. Make sure and bring some spare batteries for your flashlight, though — it can get pretty dark inside that blanket fort.
If you want to visit with old friends:
The Belgariad by David Eddings
Fantasy readers who came of age in the ’80s remember this series, about a farm boy who discovers he is the heir to a magical sword and a destiny to defeat the evil god Torak. The series hasn’t aged well,. and the plot is predictable to anyone who has ever read a fantasy novel, but vivid characters like Silk the master thief still feel like old friends, and sometimes that's all you need for a little comfort. There’s even a character named Barak!
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s classic adventure is the root of all modern fantasy. And now is a great time to return to Middle Earth, if only for a few hours. Who hasn’t joined Bilbo and Gandalf and the score of dwarves on their quest to slay the dragon Smaug and reclaim the Lonely Mountain for King Thorin Oakenshield? It's a gentle reminder of the simple times before the Dark Lord Trump, er, Sauron, descended on the Shire. And, more importantly, it is a reminder that great things can be accomplished by anyone, no matter how small.
If you are looking for hope:
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
A gorgeous story about finding light within darkness, Brandon Sanderson’s 2006 debut is set in a world where humans are randomly touched by the divine and granted magical healing powers and immortality within the beautiful city of Elantris; at least, until a mysterious cataclysm transforms the blessing into a curse and the Elantrians are condemned to suffer eternal pain. The novel follows Raoden, a former prince outside Elantris who fights to restore order and beauty in the city after he is touched by the curse.
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
This is not a happy book, but it is a hopeful one. Kivrin is a medieval historian at Oxford in the mid-21st century, and thanks to the discovery of time-travel, she is able to study the 14th century in person. Something goes wrong, however, and she’s dropped into the middle of a village dying of the plague. And while her fellow historians are frantically trying to rescue her, another disease breaks out in the 21st century. But amid the death on both ends of the time-stream there is hope, faith, and a lot of laughter — a beautiful message for these dark times.
Read on for escapes to somewhere magical.
If you need to escape to someplace magical:
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
This award-winning YA adventure follows September, a 12-year-old girl from World War II Kansas, as she travels to a whimsical magical land filled with wild herds of velocipedes and sentient paper lanterns. She meets a wyvern who thinks it is a library and must free the kingdom from the control of the despotic Marquess in order to return to her home. In recent days, Valente has added a personal touch to her fans as well, reaching out to her young readers and offering comfort, consolation, and a friendly ear over Twitter for those who are worried about the next four years.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
When you live on the borders of fairyland, making idle pledges isn’t always the best idea. Young Tristram Thorne makes a rash promise to his beloved to fetch her a falling star. Unfortunately, that star doesn’t particularly want to go back to the mundane world. Originally a graphic novel, Stardust is one of Gaiman’s sweetest stories.
If you want a laugh or two:
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
Yes, Connie Willis made the list twice, because her books are some of the most comforting in sci-fi and fantasy. Her latest is a romantic comedy about the perils of being too connected in the age of social media. Briddey is a high-powered executive for a smartphone company who is planning to get a controversial operation that will allow her to feel her fiance's emotions. She gets more than she expected, with hilarious consequences. Crosstalk won’t change the world, but it make you smile, and maybe turn off Facebook and set the smartphone down for a little bit.
Redshirts by John Scalzi
Serving on the starship Intrepid is the highest honor for young cadets in the Universal Union. Unfortunately, those cadets also tend to have a short lifespan, dying on away missions while their fearless captain and his senior crewmembers escape unscathed. Soon, Ensign Andrew Dahl learns the strange secret that dooms the junior officers on the Intrepid and embarks on a universe-bending mission to save his fellow redshirts. John Scalzi’s hilarious love-letter to Star Trek won the Hugo Award in 2013. As an added bonus, you get to stick it to the Sad Puppies, the alt-right culture warriors who have been trying to destroy the Hugo Awards since Scalzi’s victory.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
If you just need something to keep you occupied:
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Maybe you just want to keep busy for the next four years. If so, Robert Jordan has 14 doorstop-size epics to fill your days. Taking nearly 25 years to complete, with an assist from Brandon Sanderson on the last three after Jordan’s passing in 2007, the series tells the story of Rand al’Thor, a farmboy destined to become the all-powerful “Dragon,” savior or destroyer of the world.