Five feel good fiction books to help with early semester stress

A perfect reading list when you need to take a break from textbooks

“A Turtle’s Guide to Introversion” by Ton Mak, illustrated by Ton Mak

Genre: Graphic novel, Fantasy Fiction, Comedy

Do you have trouble talking to people in social situations? Ever feel like staying inside and watching TV rather than going out to a party? Does the idea of being in a large crowd make your heart race, and not in a good kind of way? Fear not because you’re not alone! This illustrated novel will guide you through the daily habits and experiences of well, an introverted turtle of course! This book isn’t very long with short sentences but meaningful messages portrayed beautifully through Mak’s iconic art style. This will be a comfort to readers who’ve felt insecure or invalidated for being introverted. For readers that aren’t very introverted, this is still a wonderful read to better understand your shy friends. 


“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot 

Genre: Magical Realism and Fantasy Fiction

This novel follows the story of a small café in Japan surrounded by a rumor that if you order a cup of coffee you can time travel. But it’s not that simple. There is a specific set of rules that need to be followed to successfully go back in time. The most important rule is that you absolutely must finish drinking your coffee before it gets cold in order to go back to the present. The caveat is that changes in the past will not affect the present. Each chapter focuses on a different person who travels to the past to resolve lingering questions and emotions knowing that nothing will change in the end. This is an emotional and heartwarming read for those experiencing regret, loss and unresolved emotions. 


“Tales From the Cafe” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot 

Genre: Magical Realism and Fantasy Fiction

If you’ve read “Before the Coffee Gets Cold,” this sequel follows the same premise. One seat, one cup of coffee, and a dropping temperature are the only things between a person and time travel. This novel focuses more on the people who work at the café and how their lives are intertwined with the ability to go into the past. Only a few specific people can pour this magical cup of coffee into a trip to the past. Unfortunately, baristas at your local cafe can’t pour this kind of cup, but who knows… This book is just as emotional and beautifully written as the first.


“Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too” by Jonny Sun, illustrated by Jonny Sun

Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

This graphic novel follows the story of an alien coming to Earth and investigating life on our planet. However, our little alien friend is unique and just can’t seem to blend in with the animals. At a glance, this novel’s interesting spelling choices and simple line art may seem childish, but this story actually covers some deep concepts like death, friendships, purpose and loneliness. This graphic novel is a short read with illustrations taking up most of the pages, but Sun’s unique use of negative space and black and white makes this graphic novel a captivating and surprisingly deep read. Check it out if you feel like introspecting on life or just want comfort in having so many unanswered questions. 


“Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones 

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

No, this isn’t based off of the popular 2004 Studio Ghibli film by the same name, but it is the very novel that inspired Miyazaki! This novel focuses on the adventures of a young woman named Sophie as she’s welcomed into a chaotic castle controlled by an angry fire demon named Calcifer. There she meets a cowardly wizard named Howl who’s rumored to eat the hearts of the young women that fall in love with his beauty. Sophie has her own issues to deal with as she’s been cursed into an old woman with an attitude. Jones adds so much personality to Sophie and Howl that their witty banter and arguing will make you laugh out loud with their joint ridiculousness. This novel is a light-hearted story about friendship, courage, confidence and self-love.

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