Posts tagged family novels
Warm Family Novels for Cold Winter Evenings

We're officially past the halfway point for winter! Spring feels so close, but we know, realistically, we still have several weeks (or more) of wet, gloomy weather here in the PNW before we see temperatures rise and the sun peek out from behind it's gray wall again. 

There are times when we look to books for escape, but in this season we are leaning into all the warmth, and goodness, and fuzzy family feels in our real lives and our reading lives, and craving novels that reflect that. If you're in the same place and need to just dive into some cozy, delightful books with families that feel nourishing instead of dysfunctional, check these out!

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Little Women | Louisa May Alcott - If you haven't read this yet, this is the perfect season for it. You'll find old fashioned family life, cozy holiday scenes, romance, and the spirit of giving. Plus, how precious is this BabyLit version?!


Pride and Prejudice | Jane Austen - Family is front and center in this story, full of togetherness, realistic dynamics that are charming despite their missteps, and the fir belief that you can wait to find the one whom you choose to love. Plus another adorable BabyLit edition.


A Man Called Ove | Fredrik BackmanIf you're looking for something a little different, this story ended up being so heartwarming and altogether charming, and is depicted equally well on film. While it starts with a grumpy old man, the story of his past and present as they dovetail together is warm, hopeful, and humbling.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet | Becky Chambers - Science Fiction isn't generally thought of as a "warm" genre, but this book is genuinely the warmest, most delightful book I've read all year. The story focuses on the crew of the Wayfarer and they all function together essentially as a "found family". A variety of relationships are represented, and each one is handled with shocking tenderness.


Anne of Green Gables | L.M. Montgomery -  A beloved classic that ends up on so many shelves, and seems to be one of the most revisited stories of our time. I've begun sharing this story with my daughter who adores it too.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Shaffer - Sometimes family doesn't mean blood relations, and this story shows just how much friends can be all the family you need, even when adding a perfect stranger into the mix that brings you back together again.


What are your favorite warm family novels? We admit, it was kind of difficult to find very many; much of literature focuses on dysfunctional families instead. Any great recommendations for us, cause we'd love to have more in our lives!

Dysfunctional Fictional Families That Will Make Your Family Thanksgiving Dinner Look Like A Piece of Pumpkin Pie

Most of us have a family that is at least touched by dysfunction; a crazy relative, or someone whose politics we disagree with, or a wayward aunt and an uncle who gets ruder the more he drinks. We have grandparents who bicker or a selfish cousin, estranged siblings, or overly needy family members. Many of us have blended families that result in complicated relationships...dysfunction is pretty par for the course when big families gather around holiday tables. If you're lucky enough to have an entirely warm, loving, cohesive family....lucky you! If not, take comfort in these fictional families who are way WAY more screwed up than yours is. After reading any of these books, your family will look down right pleasant and normal this Thanksgiving, we promise!

*some links are affiliate; we deeply appreciate your support!


1. Wuthering Heights | Emily Bronte- One incredibly twisted attraction leads to two families and their subsequent generations being just completely ruined. Forbidden love, foundlings, beatings, hostage situations, crazy men, mean girls, naive girls, a rundown old house, neglected children, cruelty, untimely deaths, and more inhabit this Gothic/Romantic (not romance!) novel. Plus, you can check out the dinner party we did!

2. Game of Thrones | George R. R. Martin- Incestuous twins, unloved bastards, fratricide, poisoned cups, fathers who father daughters with their daughters, banishments, witches' curses, disownments, a brother who burns your face off, killing off of brothers-in-law, stealing of wives, sister assassins, beheadings, and much much more screwed up family drama exist in the pages of this series. We promise, your family can't hold a candle to the level of disfunction with every single family in these books. 

3. The Descendants | Kaui Hart Hemmings- This actually hits kind of close to home for me (minus the drugs), and is a movie my dad, brother and I watch as a morbid kind of tradition to remind ourselves we aren't alone (and yes, we've all read the book, too). Basically an affair is revealed while the perpetrator is in a coma, and then subsequently dies. Add in a drug addicted teenager, nosy friends, and a workaholic parent who suddenly is a single parent, and put them on a quest for answers and you have yourself one giant helping of complicated feelings and family craziness. 


4. Anna Karenina | Leo Tolstoy- The opening line should be a pretty good indicator of the family dysfunction enfolded in this novel's epic pages: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Brutal heartbreak, aunt's stealing niece's love interests, affairs, abandoned children, rejection, marriage proposals, custody issues, and death follow all the families in this story. Pretty much nobody escapes unscathed by the dysfunction, but it's just so beautifully done. 

5. The Godfather | Mario Puzo- Do we even need to explain this one? Mob murders, drugs, family hierarchy, ruthless assassinations, mistresses, and spousal abuse abound.  The Corleone family and the other mob families they fight with are legendary because of the movie, but as is often the case, the book was better (and a lot more detailed). 


6. The Golden Compass | Phillip Pullman-The heroine of this series, Lyra, has parents who are essentially evil, cold, and power hungry. Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are both pretty vile humans, and while they have a huge role in the plot, pretty much abandon their daughter to be raised at Jordan College where the scholars and professors vaguely look after her. She is even told that Lord Asriel is her uncle, and that her parents died in an airship crash, before she learns the truth later on. Talk about messed up! Eventually her corrupt parents engage in cosmic war with angels...not exactly conducive to a serene family life. 

7. Rebecca | Daphne Du Maurier- Our narrator jumps into a whirlwind romance while abroad, and promptly moves into her new husband's creepy mansion. There she meets a sinister housekeeper who basically tells her she will never be as good as the previous wife, Rebecca. But what exactly happened to her? Enter dark obsessions, madness, someone who encourages suicide, manipulation, affairs, murder, illness, and fire. Lots of fire. 


8. Tender is the Night | F. Scott Fitzgerald- This one is kind of a doozy. Fitzgerald paints the portrait of a marriage in which mental institutions, doctor/patient relations, and self harm are part and parcel along with the parties and the kids and the house. You've also got yourself multiple affairs, some with considerable age gaps, casual hotel murders, and deep, throbbing unhappiness and desperation. Really an amazing feat of dysfunction under a perfect facade.

9. Rabbit Cake | Annie Hartnett- When we asked our instagram followers what their favorite dysfunctional family in literature was, we got a bunch of votes for this one, and it's easy to see why. A cross dressing father, a recently deceased mother, a sister with a serious (and dangerous) quirk, and whole lot of grief make up Elvis' family. It's quirky and sad and funny all at once, and we even recommended it in our Indie Press Guide!



What are your favorite dysfunctional fictional families? They certainly make for fun, albeit heartbreaking literature!