Things I've Loved Lately #1

Comfort books, comfort games, comfort everything

Things I've Loved Lately #1

Hey, it’s May! I’ve fallen behind on my Substack, and I feel guilty. I’ve fallen behind on other things, too.

Life feels quite overwhelming at the moment. I’m just stepping out of what has been a long period of low mood, not helped by news of war/politics/the upcoming AI apocalypse. I feel a bit like how I felt during the winter Covid lockdowns: everything outside is shit, and I just want to go gently, to sit down in the evenings and wrap myself up in a blanket and forget for a while.

I had planned to write a mega post about sexuality, faith, and movies this month, but stopped because I found out some fairly gross news from the Christian world that has shocked me far more than I thought it would, and now I’m finding the whole subject quite painful. That leaves me minus a Substack post while I find something to discuss that makes me feel a bit less like banging my head against a brick wall.

So, this little ‘things I’ve loved lately’ update (which I hope will be more often) is about comfort. Here’s to glimmers of happiness and safety, wherever we can find it.


I am well and truly comfort gaming at the moment. I’m not gaming for exploration, I am not gaming to be told a sad and/or moving story about love or the meaning of life or whatever, I am not gaming to keep up with this infuriatingly fast-moving industry. I am gaming to make me feel as though I am suspended inside a marshmallow.

Despite what I said in the last post about trying not to get too nostalgic, I am replaying Final Fantasy 9 for what might be the tenth time and frankly, this is the best decision I’ve made for a while.

The other night I got into bed, listened to the Tim Key episode of Off Menu, and spent the whole evening digging up Chocographs. Sublime.

(This unlocked a core memory: I printed out a picture of Vivi and stuck it onto my school planner in Year 11, because I was an extremely cool teenager. A boy in my tutor group spotted this and we had this conversation:

Him: Oh, I love that game! Vivi’s my favourite.
Me: Oh, cool!
Him: Except in my game he’s not called Vivi. I named him after me.

And the thought of Vivi being called Chris profoundly disturbed me. Chris? In a fantasy setting? But now they’ve named the main character of FFXVI Clive, so what the hell do I know.)

Also, I’ve been enjoying Let’s Build a Zoo on Game Pass:

It’s lush. I’m running a zoo. I’m making mad duck/snake hybrids. I’m enjoying a bit of pixel art. It’s just my jam. It’s got a pretty low learning curve, which is what I need right now; it feels complex enough to keep me playing for a disturbingly long time, but stripped back compared to Planet Zoo, which I wanted to love, but didn’t.

Plus, no other game allows me to watch capybaras jumping on a trampoline (at least, as far as I’m aware).

Chris and I (my husband Chris, not the blasphemous Vivi renamer) are attempting to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent, in a bit of a departure from the comfort gaming thing. It’s going slowly because we’re both wimps (but me in particular). I would quite like to conquer it, but I don’t really know why: I spend every moment feeling utter terror verging on hatred, but then go to bed feeling like I need to do it again soon, and I find our joint fear weirdly therapeutic.


Oh, baby, I’ve read some good books recently. And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks is a funny, bonkers, magical set of short stories that feel like modern (and occasionally twisted) fairy tales; The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (a re-read for me) is a gorgeous, lonely tale about a family moving to Alaska in a last-ditch attempt to find some stability, only to find that the stunning but harsh landscape makes everything worse; Animal Lovers by Rob Palk is a funny, clever book about love and obsession; and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is so my cup of tea that I plan to do a nerdily in-depth review on it soon.

I’m currently listening to James Acaster’s Perfect Sound Whatever. In this book, Acaster listens obsessively to music released in 2016 in order to recover from a tremendously shit time in his life. It’s brilliant, funny, and sweet.


Albums I have enjoyed and think you should listen to:

  • Live at the Jazz Cafe, Olivia Dean - saw her opening for Jordan Rakei last year and she is lovely and cool with a gorgeous voice
  • Cool It Down, Yeah Yeah Yeahs - current fave writing album, takes me out of myself for a while
  • The Gods We Can Touch, Aurora - our daughter is super into Aurora right now. We all <3 Cure For Me
  • Fake It Flowers, beabadoobee - cute voice, thrashy music, feels like living in a 90s movie montage
  • Prom Nite, DJ Yoda - still very into it
  • Farewell, Starlite!, Francis and the Lights - had a little cry to the song Comeback the other day and felt I should include it for this reason (also because it’s a very good album in general)
  • Quality Over Opinion, Louis Cole - Park Your Car On My Face on loop

That’s it, that’s what I’ve been enjoying recently. Hope you’re all keeping well. <3