Cozy Fantasy, the sub-genre that seems to have been popping up everywhere recently! If you’ve been following 24hr.YABookBlog for some time, you’d know that back in 2019 “Slice-of-Life Fantasy” and my love for these sweet, healing and atmospheric stories was nothing new, though perhaps a bit of an underrated topic.
I’m quite happy seeing these sorts of stories take the spotlight because sometimes we need a break from the gloomy, high-stakes, “the world is in mortal peril” fantasy for more comforting, slice-of-life adventures. That’s why, inspired by Kristin’s post where she reacted to Goodreads 72 Most Popular Fantasy, inspired me to do the same and reflect on Goodreads 36 Cozy & Feel-Good Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books curated list from November 2022.
As a disclaimer, while I’m sad to report I haven’t read a lot of these, I’ll be reacting & commenting to the ones I’m more familiar with or a share my general opinions on what the list highlights. Comment your thoughts as well, I’d love to know what you think on this list! 🌷🍃✨
Old Favorites and Genre Classics
According to the curator of this list, they aimed to highlight sci-fi + fantasy while stitching in “some old favorites and genre classics.” Its not surprising then to see Howl’s Moving Castle on this list and though I’ve never read The Princess Bride, it is a very feel-good sort of movie adaptation so I won’t judge that one too much. Then there’s Stardust by Neil Gaiman, after reading reviews I’ve seen it involves more adult / graphic content (murder according to some), while other books on the list have darker content as well, it seems like this book was chosen more from the comp titles than actual “coziness.” According to Gaiman himself from this Guardian article (2007) this book is even intended to read as a “fairytale for adults.”
This leads me into my next point, it seems like it’s missing a classic 1980’s author by the name of Sir Terry Pratchett, from some of what I’ve read it shocked me that Goodreads didn’t include the pioneering author on this list. His Discworld books are a variety of inter-connected fantasy stories that can be read on their own but tell a larger story. I think the humor from his novels is one layer of what gives them that coziness factor, which surprised me that he was not included in this list at all.
When it comes to this list overall it was nice to see lots of memorable, recognizable names but they truly could have done more research to dig into lesser-known cozy books if they really wanted to go the “old” and “classic” route.
Where’s the Cozy books for kids & teens?
Running a Young Adult blog, no surprise this thought came to mind! But it baffles me that the team who put this list together didn’t include one kids or YA novel (there’s so many in more recent years that truly capture “Cozy Fantasy” than some of the adult titles on this list). Like…where’s The Tea Dragon novels by K. O’Neill? or An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson? How about award-winning YA author Anna-Marie McLemore (their books are classified as magical realism, but some of the adult titles fall under a similar vein of “fabulism” or magical realism like Before The Coffee Gets Cold).
While novels like The Golem And The Jinni are fantastic and yes “cozy” can be the kind of word to describe this sub-genre, I don’t think it exactly fits “Cozy Fantasy,” you know? Half A Soul, Witchmark, Keeper Of Enchanted Rooms, A Marvelous Light, to name a few on this list are clearly classified as more “historical fantasy” where they are historically-based but have more fantastical elements. Yet, just because something is historical does it automatically make it cozy?
A creative addition to the list where many of these novels fit, but I think it would have made more sense to list novels that are intended to have that “coziness” from the beginning not just because they are historical. From what I’ve read it feels like “Half A Soul” by Olivia Atwater and C.L. Polk’s “Witchmark” (maybe Helene’s “Golem”) would be solid fits for this but the others…I’m not sure those make much sense.
Shiny New Releases
A general trend for much of this list (though I can be guilty of this myself) is including so many new and more recently released titles. While the team attempted to include books that were “published in the past five years or so…” the list as whole feels like many of the books are there more-so because of how “popular” they are right now & because its a shiny newer released book. (*cough Legends & Lattes). And when it comes to the science fiction picks…again it feels like they could have done a bit more digging to include older novels and not just novellas.
Publishing & Authors Of Color / POC being left out
Realistically, these types of lists are more for clicks and informing readers from a surface level, but with Goodreads having done some pretty great lists in the past to showcase authors of color / POC writers, they could have put in just the smallest amount of effort to highlight more authors of color writing Cozy Fantasy…(I will never stop shouting out Anna Meriano who wrote the cozy MG Love Sugar Magic, or Eva Evergreen by Julie Abe), even MANGA, that in my opinion, captures Cozy Fantasy ambience *far more than traditional, North American publishing right now. I even did a bigger discussion of this on my booktok, where it hurts to see authors of color being left out so early in the developing of this sub-genre. Though yay for including The Very Secret Society Of Irregular Witches, C.L. Polk and Mizuki Tsujimura.
“Cozy” is also subjective
At the end of the day, “Cozy Fantasy” just means different things to different people. I personally don’t think All Systems Red (a sci-fi, space opera novella), Starless Sea, Piranesi or Before The Coffee Gets Cold (Literary Magical Realism) should have even been on this list at all but that’s because my definition of Cozy Fantasy isn’t the same as theirs.
While I’ve definitely found a couple books for my tbr, I think this list as a whole was fine (not ground-breaking or anything), it included very big names yet I wish they did a little more digging.
What are your thoughts on this list? What are some books you would have added? ☕🍃✨
If you are loving Cozy Fantasy books right now and happy that they are having their moment, be sure to stay tuned for more content related to all things Cozy Fantasy during 2023, have lots of fun posts coming your way! 🤭🌷📚
6 thoughts on “My thoughts on Goodreads “36 Cozy and Feel-Good Fantasy and Sci-fi Books” List”
We haven’t read any of the books that you mentioned, but we do love the movie adaptation of The Princess Bride.
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a fantastic movie for sure! 🥳 thanks for reading!
I love the concept of ‘cozy fantasy’. I like your view on this. POC authors don’t get the recognition they deserve and are usually not put on the best of lists.
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my thoughts exactly, especially as this trend is very new its always so weird that POC are hardly listed when they are writing some incredible books that can be classified as “cozy”😫
Interesting! I’ve only read a handful of these but I agree that some of the genre classifications are a little blurred in that list. I liked Before the Coffee Gets Cold but I agree that it’s more literary fiction with elements of magical realism, not to mention it deals with some pretty heavy/sad topics when you get into the actual stories that are being shared…so, was it really cozy? Maybe people just equate coffee/tea with automatic coziness? (I typed that as joke but then I went back and looked at the list again and saw that at least 4 of the 36 books feature coffee or tea…which makes it even more ridiculous that The Tea Dragon series wasn’t on there!)
Regarding the lack of children’s books on the list, my best guess is that the people who wrote the list are assuming that most of the people looking at the list are adults who are trying to find books for themselves, rather than books for kids.
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glad you can agree, I think the mix of genres makes the list feel so unbalanced and not really focus on the sub-genre in the first place! 😅 I haven’t read Coffee, but I got that feeling knowing it may have bigger topics of discussion with the fact its more literary, so I’m confused why its on this list…WOAH yes, about that coffee/tea point, that’s why I’m irked Tea Dragon wasn’t even mentioned. I can definitely see what you mean about the reasoning in lack of kids books now that I’m seeing the list again, its just weird because I think a lot of titles for younger readers capture that coziness more than a lot of the adult ones mentioned! 😂🍃 Thanks for reading & for your wonderful insight Sara!!