The holidays can be a depressing time. Everybody knows this. But knowing something—simply recognizing it—does not necessarily solve the problem. Sometimes it only makes it worse to put a name on a thing, because once you’ve named a thing, it becomes that much more real (see also: diseases, children). But so, what we’ve always found helps relieve our misery is, well, company. But not company like other real-life people. No, company like other people in books. And not just any other fictional people, but miserable fictional people, who can remind us that as bad as we think we have it? Things could really be so, so much worse. After all, you’re probably not going to get stoned to death by our friends and family this holiday season, right? Unless, of course, you tweet something moronic and BuzzFeed picks it up. But you’re not going to do that, right? Please, please don’t do that. Read these novels and stories instead, and realize once again how lucky you really are.