“Cozy” is a word that is pretty evocative for most English speakers. We tend to think of things like “warmth” and “safety” when we hear it. The term cozy, when used to describe books, means happy endings, well-intentioned characters, and healthy interpersonal relationships. Throw in a bit of humor for extra bonus points. Bring me more of that, please! With all that is going on in the world right now, It is unsurprising that cozy books are EVERYWHERE.
In publishing, cozy has most often been considered a sub-genre of mystery. This genre, if you are unfamiliar, is most notable for its small-town settings and its amateur sleuths. Typically, these mysteries don’t include the grimmer details of the murder, and the sex & violence tend to happen “off stage.” They also usually resolve neatly at the end of each book with the bad guy getting what’s coming. Often they come with a side order of light romance and have “punny” titles. You can see how these books can be identified with a comforting adjective like “cozy.” If you are thinking about Murder, She Wrote, you are on the right track. Often the sleuths are also involved in hobbies or professions that are unique.
Enter the crafting cozy mystery. Good news: there is even a crafty cozy series set right here in Jackson County! Ellie Alexander’s Bakeshop Mysteries are set in Ashland, Oregon. Each book even includes a recipe! If cozy mysteries are your jam, I’ve got great news for you: There is a cozy mystery festival coming to Ashland this fall, and we’ve got books by all the featured authors ready to go! There are events happening throughout Ashland October 20-22. Many of them are free, some even at the library. There will be more information coming as the date approaches, but if you are a cozy mystery lover, this is your save the date notice!
That said, these days we are seeing cozy reading happening beyond mysteries. In fact, there is a lot of coziness being published in fantasy and science fiction!
When it comes to cozy fantasy, the title that is most often shared by staff is Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. Subtitled “a novel of high fantasy and low stakes” it takes place primarily in a coffee shop in a high fantasy world. While the main character is an orc and the setting is a world wholly different from ours (both hallmarks of high fantasy), the coffee shop setting is very different than the world changing conflicts we see in grimdark fantasy, like Game of Thrones. While there is a central conflict in the book, the characters generally just want good coffee, yummy treats, and to hang out with their found family. Baldree even has a follow up that JCLS staff is excited about. Look for Bookshops & Bonedust due out in November!
On the science fiction front, staff considers Becky Chambers their go-to author for coziness. Her books are far more character-driven and more hopeful than the space opera that most of us think of when we think of science fiction. Her most recent series is Monk & Robot. Set in a world where robots became sentient and then chose to remove themselves from human society, one robot returns generations later to see what the human world is like. Mosscap the robot learns about humanity from a traveling “tea monk.” The monk learns about humanity by explaining it to the robot. It’s delightfully cozy and thought provoking.
We’ve got a lot of readers of cozy fiction on staff at JCLS, and they made a LIST for you if you would like to explore some cozy science fiction or fantasy.
And, yes, there’s cozy horror too! Of course, if you comb through online lists of “cozy horror” you will mostly find titles that are Gothic, and we recently did a post on just such books: Gothic: It’s a Whole Vibe!
AND when we start talking about cozy characteristics of books, romance also fits this bill with its ever-present happy endings. We’ll do a deep dive into that beloved genre and its many tropes next!