November has been quite a month for me. Immediately upon the end of #SPOOKYSZN (Halloween), #COZYSZN was in full effect. I’ve never been a ~fall person~ but this year as soon as daylight savings time hit, my body went into full hibernation mode. Rather than fight it, I’ve leaned into it wholeheartedly.
Cozy Season (#COZYSZN) is all about ambiance. Well, first and foremost it’s about comfort. Then it’s about ambiance. The scene:
Can it be cozy without a candle? I’ve seriously researched what it is about candles and fireplaces that make us feel warm and safe, but to no avail. Regardless, I think we can all agree that a room without a candle is not a warm and comfy space. A few of my fall favorites have been the Honeycrisp Apple candle from Trader Joe’s (pretty much extinct by now, but smells exactly like the inside of an apple farm. Not like an apple pie, or apple spice, but like fresh apple), and the Campfire Coffee candle from Bath & Body Works (that one smells like a Gloria Jean’s). Heading into the Christmas season, I’m also a huge fan of B&BW’s Fresh Balsam.
After your candle is lit, put on your softest clothes. I am particularly fond of wool socks and either a big old hoodie, or my L.L. Bean fleece-lined flannel, which is so soft that my parents once told me that they were afraid I’d get addicted to it. I might be.
I’m endlessly thankful for my heated blanket. I crank that baby up and snuggle up on the couch for hours.
The other items that make a cozy day extra comfy are the beverages. If I’m settling in for a full on lazy day, I’ll make myself a hot matcha latte. If it’s been a rough day at work and I need to decompress, I recommend either a full glass of pinot noir, or a big pint of beer. I prefer a chocolaty coffee stout in the winter.
And finally, the books
Why are we snuggling up on the couch, you ask? To read, duh. Of course it’s equally indulgent to watch the Great British Baking Show for six hours straight, but there’s something so lavish about cocooning in blankets to read.
My favorite decadent book to read while nestled in various layers of fleece and wool is Devil in the White City. I resisted this book for a while because I didn’t think I was into a history of the Worlds Fair, but eventually my curiosity about serial killer H.H. Holmes got the better of me. The book is lavish and decadent. Remember in like 2003 when Starbucks had the Chantico Drinking Chocolate, which was basically just a thick, dark hot chocolate? That’s what reading this book is like; it seems too rich to consume all at once, but suddenly you’re finished, delighted, and looking for more.
Now that I think of it, a Chantico would be an excellent addition to a cozy day. RIP.
Since 2016, my life’s mission has been to find a book that gripped me the way A Little Life did. A few have come close. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai came closest. I might love this more, it’s hard to say. The story alternates between Chicago in 1985 during the AIDS epidemic, where a group of friends is ravaged by the disease, and 2015 Paris where the sister of one of the boys who died searches for her estranged daughter. The settings and plot points drew me to the book, but the way the stories unfolded were heartbreaking and engrossing.
I was reading this book in the cafeteria at my office one day and two separate people approached me to rave about it. It will make you cry, which is perfect for a day when you’re in the comfort and safety of your own home.
On an equally depressing note, another book I very much enjoyed this month was Cherry by Nico Walker. The kicker on this autobiographical novel is that Walker wrote it from jail. There’s something riveting about a good drug memoir, and I appreciate the fact that he did not do a straight memoir, but changed it a bit and made it more fictional, rather than going the James Frey route by embellishing his story and claiming it all to be true.
The other thing about this story that I liked was the war aspect. I’m not generally very interested in reading about peoples’ experiences in Iraq, but something about Nico Walker’s storytelling enraptured me. I now want to know more about him and the other characters from the book to see how they’ve fared.
A much lighter read is You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. I overcame my general disinterest in short story collections, only because I enjoyed her novel Eligible so much. She’s smart and observant and perceptive, and reading each story felt kind of like unfurling a flag; you kind of had an idea what the whole picture was going to be, but as the story continued, more details would be revealed, and often times, where the story concluded would totally surprise me. Most of the stories were centered around women and relationships, and even when some of the characters were totally insufferable I found myself relating to them. I tore through this in a day.
BONUS: This is not a book, but an article. Essentially, once a family purchased a house in a wealthy area of New Jersey, they started receiving anonymous letters from “The Watcher” saying how he (or she) hopes they’re going to take care of the house, and that s/he is so glad there’s “young blood” in there now.
The whole thing was so wild and freaky. I’ve read online that it’s likely the husband trying to get out of the mortgage, but I can’t help but think something way crazier afoot.