Books have been my constant companions as long as I can remember. When I was in school, I saw them as an escape from my social or academic stresses . . . or maybe as a good way to procrastinate. Riding along with Nancy Drew as she solved her mysteries seemed so much simpler than tackling long division.
When I grew up and started to feel the weight of adult responsibilities, books became comfort food--something I could turn to when I needed to feel lighter. I think that's why I gravitated toward books that allowed me to indulge my love for exploring foods and settings that I hadn't yet experienced in person. And there's nothing like the guaranteed HEA (happily ever after, in book-review speak) in a romance novel to get me through a particularly stressful week.
Another topic that has brought me joy in recent years is neurodiversity. This is the idea that certain differences in brain function (as seen in those diagnosed with ADHD or autism, for example) should be regarded as normal variations in humans, instead of pathologized as abnormal conditions. In other words, they are traits you are born with, like the color of your skin or eyes.
Fortunately for me (and the growing number of adults who are realizing they fit into this neurodivergent category), a lot of books are being written to share what it's like to have this particular set of challenges. And more fiction books are coming out with these types of characters (and they're being written by authors who are autistic or have other neurological variations). One of the books on my list, Can You See Me?, was actually co-written by an 11-year-old autistic girl and uses the main character's diary entries to explain different aspects of autism and how it can look and feel to someone on the spectrum.