News and Interviews

Get Cozy with Open Book: The Open Book Team on Our All-Time Coziest Reads

banner image with a background of winter greenery, lit candles, twine, and other gift wrapping supplies. Text in the foreground reads Get Cozy with Open Book. Sharing Our All-Time, Holiday-Perfect, Coziest, Comfiest Reads. Open Book logo bottom centre

As the end of a busy year full of ups and downs approaches, we decided to focus on cozy comfort for our 2023 holiday feature – to share the books that bring us calm, comfort, and peace. We hope this will inspire readers to seek out your own cozy holiday reads; to embrace the gentle contentment that a great book (whether a new read or an old favourite) can bring. 

So this year, we asked our columnists and staff to each share their go-to cozy read – the book or books they reach for when they need to unplug, unwind, and embrace the snug and homey aspect of the holiday season. And if you've got a book like that on your shelf too, let us know on X/Twitter or Instagram.

Mostly, we want to end off 2023 with a big thanks to you, all of our readers, for another year of fantastic CanLit.

We'll be back in the New Year, but feel free to explore our archives for great authors interviews (with novelists, nonfiction writers, memoirists, and poets), book excerpts, and columns. We'll be back in January with a fresh new season of great Canadian books. 

Manahil Bandukwala, Columnist

Cover of the graphic novel Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh

My cozy holiday pick is Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh. This graphic novel follows Aiza, a young girl who enlists in the army—but must hide who she is to protect herself. The art is beautiful and the friendships and connections drew me right in, and makes this a wonderful read for when it's cold and snowy outside. 

Tania Blokhuis, Administrative Coordinator

Cover of L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon

I gravitate towards books for younger readers when I'm craving something cozy, and my go-to is L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon series. Like Anne, Emily is an orphan with a big imagination and aspirations of becoming an author, but she's a little prouder and pricklier than Anne, and maybe even a little spookier (she's a bit psychic!). I read this series for the first time when I was 12 and have revisited it multiple times since then, so part of what makes reading the books so cozy for me is that it's like catching up with an old friend. The beautiful descriptions of Prince Edward Island help, too!

Stacey May Fowles, Columnist

Image of author Stacey May Fowles' dog cozying up as she (out of frame) reads a book

My first choice for a cozy read is not necessarily a particular title (I'm not much of a re-reader to be honest) but instead a general type. Nothing makes me feel more comfortable and curled up than a perfectly paced, well-plotted, escapist thriller. I tend to read dozens of them in my off hours every year and they never really disappoint. The last one I read that really impressed me was Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, which was not only an artfully crafted mystery, but every character was well drawn and every line beautifully written – the coziest kind of book, in my opinion.

Samantha Garner, Columnist

Cozy photo of author Samantha Garner's empty bed

Susanna Kearsley is a comfort reread favourite for me, but The Winter Sea has it all. It's a blend of historical and contemporary fiction, featuring a writer who suspects she's experiencing the memories of one of her ancestors. Even better, she writes in a small cottage on the wintry Scottish coast – what could be cozier? 

Kevin Hardcastle, Editor

image of writer and editor Kevin Hardcastle's cat near a window with a painted landscape resembling the landscapes of JRR Tolkein's fantasy novels

My Cozy Reads is The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, which I read when I was young and came back to when taking Old English and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Lit classes in university. While there is plenty of danger and terrifying beasts, and walking, there's something about the calm, quaint life of Bilbo Baggins being spun up into a great adventure that has always welcomed me in. And, there's an entire world that Tolkien created in and around the tale that you can ease into more deeply if you choose.

Holly Kent, Executive Director, Open Book Foundation & OBPO

Two side by side photos of OBPO Executive Director Holly Kent in pajamas, reading in front of a Christmas tree

My favourite cozy (re-)read is one of my all-time favourites, Long Story Short by Elyse Friedman. I found this book in the basement laundry facilities of an old apartment building 12+ years ago and quickly devoured everything Elyse has written before or since. It’s a novella + short stories (all set in Toronto) that are as dark as they are funny and readable.

Grace O'Connell, Senior Editor

photo of writer and editor Grace O'Connell's black and white cat and author Tamora Pierce's Realms of the Gods in paperback beside a Christmas tree

I love re-reading to begin with, but my absolute go-to cozy comfort re-read is Wild Magic by KidLit and fantasy icon Tamora Pierce. If I'm feeling really frayed I'll plow through the whole (absolutely sublime) quartet of books in the series (concluding with the final book, The Realms of the Gods, pictured here with Hudson the cat), and no matter how many times I've read them, they never fail to whisk me away and take my mind off of whatever is at hand. I love a magical girl story and no one does it better than Pierce.  

Vikki VanSickle, Columnist

Photo of author and columnist Vikki Vansickle's grey cat, with Vansickle's hand holding the book Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

I am not much of a re-reader, but over the holidays I love to sit and read a mystery in one big cozy sitting, accompanied by my (feline) reading buddy and chocolate mint tea. As contemporary mystery-thrillers go, Rachel Hawkins never disappoints.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel, Columnist

side by side photos of columnist and writer Lindsay Zier-Vogel, one of her knitting by a Chritmas tree and the other a close up of her hand holding the book a Seasme Street Christmas in front of the Christmas tree

Though Wintering by Katherine May is one of my favourite books to read as soon as the sun starts setting early, the coziest book I’ve read every year since before I could even read words is A Sesame Street Christmas, published in 1982. There are stories, poems, songs, crafts, decoration ideas and recipes (including for Bert’s Figgy Fizz Punch!) and reading it in front of my glowy tree that is covered with handmade ornaments, with Sharon Jones’ holiday album is my very definition of December coziness.


Happy Holidays from Open Book! See you in 2024.