Recommendations by Kelsey

In the past 16 months, I have spent more time engrossed in the news than possibly the previous 16 years. With all the doom and gloom that descended in 2020, I realized that I needed to seek comfort wherever possible. For me, comfort comes in many forms: comfort food, comfy clothes, but perhaps my favourite of all is comfort books. I love returning to a book that has brought me joy in the past. Re-reading a favourite work of fiction is not only about revisiting a beloved story, but also about recalling feelings and memories from the time of previous readings. I have found particular joy this last year in re-reading some of my favourite childhood series. I have been able to reminisce about why I enjoyed them so much as a child and young adult – how they each reached me at exactly the right moment when I needed these stories most.

I am happy to share a few of my favourite children’s/young adult series. I highly recommend giving these a read whether or not you have read them before.

Harry Potter book jacketHarry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Everyone has heard of the Harry Potter books, but the magical adventures of Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are particularly special to me. They were published at precisely the right time for me to enjoy. I got to grow up alongside them, dreaming of Hogwarts, magic chess, plants that make you breathe under water, chocolate jumping frogs and goodness conquering evil. I remember the midnight book release parties and reading the 7th and final book in one day, the summer I was seventeen. One thing to note about reading them as an adult – I kept finding myself thinking, if only they had asked an adult for help, they wouldn’t be in such mortal danger!

Artemis Fowl book jacketArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

In these books, the parentally neglected young genius, Artemis Fowl, discovers that there is a magic underworld hidden right under human noses. He hatches a plan to steal a great deal of gold from some fairies. The high-tech gadgets, rich magical world, and loads of action in this series of books make for a fun ride. Artemis is an interesting introduction to the antihero - something my young self had not yet encountered when I first read these books. The characters in these stories are neither all good nor all bad. Reading them as an adult, I was able to appreciate how much humor is built into these adventurous books!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book jacketThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

A group of friends with very different personalities and body types discover a pair of pants that fit them all perfectly. While they spend summers and later years apart from each other, this pair of pants unites them. Each character has her own struggles going through adolescence. What I loved about these books as a young person was that each girl is a whole believable person – not a caricature as seen on tv. While we are rooting for each one to win, we see their flaws as both people and friends. Want heartwarming friendship and a bucket full of teenage angst? These are for you!

The Golden Compass book jacketHis Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Reading the first book in this series, The Golden Compass, as an 8-year-old, it was simply the story of a young girl on an adventure. Pullman creates a rich world full of alternate universes, some quite similar to our own, chock full of adventure. I remember getting completely lost in these stories, believing that other universes may exist right beyond our own. Revisiting these books as an adult, I was able to appreciate the very mature themes encompassed in them. In addition to friendship, family and adventure these stories look at the nature of the soul, good, evil, politics and religion.

In 2017, Pullman released the first book in a new trilogy, The Book of Dust, set in the same world as His Dark Materials. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to revisit this world.

Each of these series has been adapted for television or film as well. In addition to the movie and television adaptations, we have a number of these titles available as audio books. You can watch, read or listen!