Does your idea of comfort reading involve spaceships? Aliens? Droids? Explosions? Well have I got some recommendations for you!
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
This is a series of novellas, the first of which is All Systems Red. The third novella, Rogue Protocol, just came out a couple of weeks ago and the last one is planned to release in November of this year. So this is a good time to start reading them! And you should. You really really should.
The basic premise is that our narrator, Murderbot aka SecUnit, is a droid assigned by the company that owns it be the security for a team of research scientists on an expedition. Cool cool, but this particular SecUnit secretly hacked its governor module (the thing that makes orders from those annoying humans orders, and not just suggestions Murderbot may or may not follow), and decided that how they really wants to spend their time is to half-ass their job as much as possible in order to allow more time to binge-watch their favorite media programs. And maybe, if they have to, keep the humans from getting themselves killed.
I usually try to tailor my book recommendations to people based on their specific tastes if possible, but All Systems Red is one of the few that gets shoved at everyone. It’s funny (why, oh why, do blurbs never say if books are funny, it’s a major selling point for me and yet it’s weirdly hard to figure out in advance), heartwarming, and ultimately optimistic.
The Wayfarers series, by Becky Chambers.
The first book is A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. The 2nd is A Closed and Common Orbit, and the third, Record of a Spaceborn Few is another new release. This is technically a trilogy with some characters that show up in multiple books, but the stories themselves are only loosely connected. While they’re certainly much richer when read together I think each stands pretty well on its own.
These books tell the tale of a universe in the far future, where the Earth has been made uninhabitable and most of humanity now lives in the Exodus fleet or as minorities among various aliens races. And besides humans not really being in positions of power in this universe (beyond, I suppose, local government), there’s a deliberate focus on the lives of ordinary people with ordinary jobs…just in this case that ordinary job might be spaceship tech. The word I keep coming back to to describe these books is cozy. Despite life being quite hard for many of the characters, I find Chambers’ books to be profoundly hopeful. They’re the novel equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold night with bonus spaceships and really well thought out cultural interactions. This is another series that I try to convince everyone I know to read, which is really the highest recommendation I can give.