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Comfort and joy have been in short supply (again) this year. While you were busy staying on top of the latest pandemic and climate-catastrophe news, you might have missed these 2021 releases. May they bring the warm and fuzzy to your holiday reading.

Feeling Grinchy? ‘Tis the season for some holiday reading

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A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

Niki Randhawa is 29, single and newly unemployed when she takes her first trip “home” to India – just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights.

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

In this debut by Maggie Knox (Canadian writing duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley), identical twins switch places, with some delicious results.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

A Jewish girl who secretly writes Christmas romance novels? And is stumped when her publisher commissions a Hanukkah romance? Oy gevalt!

The Spirits Up by Todd Babiak

Definitely not a rom-com, this book takes the reader from a spooky Edmonton Halloween through to December. Will Christmas be merry – or scary?

Please someone, anyone, make me laugh

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An Embarrassment of Critch’s: Immature Stories from My Grown-Up Life by Mark Critch

“I believe laughter is the best medicine,” writes the This Hour Has 22 Minutes star. “I hope this book will cure what ails you.” If only it were that simple. LOL.

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann

Aren’t they, though? The Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Ducks, Newburyport is tired of a whole bunch of things. And she takes complaining about them to an art form.

Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of the Office by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman

Maybe binge-watching The Office has helped you through the first few seasons of the pandemic. Perhaps the stories behind the stories will help get you through the next chapter.

Yearbook by Seth Rogen

The potter/pot entrepreneur/star of Santa Inc. delights with stories from his Vancouver upbringing and his A-list L.A. life. Tip: the audiobook is very fun.

Christmas, take me away: literal escapism

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Dante’s Indiana by Randy Boyagoda

In this smart, funny follow-up to Original Prin, Prin has lost his way at home and at work in Toronto – and finds himself helping to create a Divine Comedy-themed amusement park in Indiana.

Tuscan Daughter by Lisa Rochon

Who among us would not fancy escaping to Tuscany right about now? In this Renaissance-set debut novel from The Globe’s former architecture critic, a peasant girl travels to Florence, where she meets Michelangelo and Mona Lisa, among others.

Bramah and The Beggar Boy by Renée Sarojini Saklikar

Sometimes language can be an escape in and of itself. In this epic fantasy in verse (Book 1 of a series), a locksmith/demigod and her young apprentice time-travel to help survivors in a world ravaged by climate change. Saklikar wrote this partly as respite from the trauma of her previous book, Children of Air India.

For the attention-span-challenged (i.e. all of us)

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On Animals by Susan Orlean

What could be warmer and fuzzier than a collection of essays about dogs, cats, chickens and a famous orca (and homing pigeons, donkeys and rabbits)? “Every essay in this book is magnificent,” raved the New York Times thrice in its review.

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

When this godforsaken pandemic ends, I wish to visit Ann Patchett’s Nashville bookstore. Until then, I will comfort myself with her words. The title essay is one of the most beautiful, sad, hopeful pieces of writing I have ever encountered.

100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul

The editor of the New York Times Book Review considers what we’ve lost in the internet age: Boredom. Civility. Eye contact. TV Guide. A good night’s sleep.

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