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While practicing true hygge might usually include mindful appreciation of your surroundings, escapism is a necessary form of comfort and self-care for many people — whether it comes in the form of a soothing game, a lighthearted movie or a good book (this last activity, at least, is hygge-approved). So here are some suggestions for soft, cozy, feel-good media to consume while you’re enjoying a warm winter indoors.

Literature

Life of Pi By Yann Martel

Stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a young boy goes on a philosophical and spiritual journey that has enchanted readers for years. This book has just the soothing, inspiring vibe necessary right now.

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You By Lin Manuel Miranda

This isn’t a book you’re going to read cover-to-cover in one sitting, which makes it all the more appropriate for a healthy, balanced, hygge life. In this illustrated volume of affirmations, Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda offers daily advice to keep up your spirits.

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays By Samantha Irby

In a series of autobiographical essays, Samantha Irby tackles what could be heavy subject matter — like growing up Black and queer in a small town — with gut-busting humor. She takes both the mundane and the amazing and distills them into bite-sized chunks for us. 

Archive of Our Own By everyone

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What’s your favorite movie? Book? TV Show? Search for it on archiveofourown.org and discover pages full of fanfiction — fan-written stories in established universes. Choose the rating, filter out content you don’t like, and find some serious gems from amateur authors.

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures By Noelle Stevenson

She-Ra creator Noelle Stevenson gives readers a look at the ups and downs of her young adult life, dealing with faith, sexuality, creativity and mental health. Her memories can get dark, but overall it’s a reminder that we can do anything with perseverance.

Video games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

On your own somewhat deserted island, you get to customize a village of sweet animal characters, catch fish and bugs, grow flowers and make friends. If you want a video game that feels like a hug, you’ve got it.  

Stardew Valley

Building on the tradition of titles like Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons, this indie farming game has been lauded for taking only the best traits from the farm game genre. Plus, consistent updates mean you’ll never get bored.

Spiritfarer

In this “cozy management game about dying,” you play as Stella, a ferrymaster for spirits of the deceased. Gameplay offers farming, mining, harvesting, crafting, exploration, customization — you name it, so it appeals to a wide range of players. 

Journey

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Beautiful art and music make this a must-play. Explore a desert landscape and ancient ruins as you travel to a far-off mountaintop. Along your path, you’ll meet other players — silent, anonymous companions. Help each other, then part ways.

Minecraft

It’s easy to spend hours in Minecraft’s create mode, building whole cities, replicating real or fantasy locations, and generally just letting your creativity soar. Put on some tunes and escape to this beloved world of building blocks.

Movies

My Neighbor Totoro

Really anything from Studio Ghibli could go on this list, but this classic Hayao Miyazaki film transcends age and interest to appeal to most anyone who watches it. Totoro offers us all a weird, wonderful and comforting world.

Big Eden

In this heartwarming romantic comedy, a painter returns to his hometown in nowhere Montana, where he forms a new connection with the kindest man ever to exist in movies — and the whole town conspires to set them up. Available for purchase or rent on Amazon Prime

Canvas

CANVAS

Canvas

This new short film follows a painter who tries to rediscover his inspiration after an incredible loss. With no dialogue, Canvas relies on stunning visuals to convey mingled heartbreak and joy. A wonderful film of resilience. Available on Netflix.

Princess Bride

If any cult classic film belongs on a list of feel-good movies, it’s this one. A simple and traditional fairy tale romance gets turned on its head, and a cast of great characters and stellar actors absolutely cinches it. Available on Disney+. 

Up

Okay, so we all cried in the first 10 minutes of Up — big, fat, ugly tears — but the rest of this sweet Pixar film makes up for its initial heartbreak. If you want to relax with a box of tissues and feel good about humanity, this fits the bill. Available on Disney+.

TV Shows

The Good Place

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The Good Place

Get ready for a forking good time. The Good Place is a wild ride from start to finish, equal parts hilarious and heartfelt. Trapped in heaven, where she doesn’t belong, Eleanor tries to learn to be a good person. At first. Available on Hulu and Netflix. 

Great British Baking Show

I mean, obviously, right? Unlike American cooking shows, this competition frequently sees participants working together, lifting each other up, and overall just being so damn British about everything. It’s a delight. Select seasons available through PPLD or on Netflix.

Queer Eye

Billed as “more than a makeover,” this reality show takes a person who needs a bit of help and gives it to them in spades. Four gay men and one nonbinary force of nature renovate home, heart and wardrobe with lots of love. Available on Netflix.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Here’s a newer show for you: This 2020 musical comedy-drama features a young woman who can hear people’s thoughts — through song. It’s a clever way to explore those quiet emotions we keep buried, and its second season has recently begun on NBC. Available on Hulu. 

Steven Universe

You can catch up to (or rewatch) this gem — get it? — of a show now that the series and movie are widely available. Young Steven, raised by three superpowered aliens known as the Crystal Gems, learns life lessons and comes into his own power. Select seasons available through PPLD or on Netflix. 

Associate Editor

Alissa Smith is the associate editor of the Colorado Springs Indy, and has lived in Colorado Springs since 1996. She has coordinated listings, curated featured events, herded cats, and both edited and contributed to Queer & There.