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Comfort books

There are times when I don’t really want something new to read, times when I feel so beaten down that all I really want is to pass my eyes over a book I love so much I’ve all but memorized it already. The last couple of weeks have been like that, as what I thought was just a summer cold got nastier and lasted longer and left me too wiped out to write.

Most of the time I’ve even been too tired and shaky to make my way from the bedroom to the “library” at the other end of the house, where fiction and non-reference memoirs and humor live. In between actually reading, I’ve been visualizing those shelves and thinking about what I want to grab next time I venture all that distance. And thinking about what constitutes a “comfort book” for me.  

This isn’t an exhaustive list, because I’ve made it out while visualizing the bookshelves from memory. I expect that if I actually felt up to staring at the shelves, I’d see a lot of other books that belong here. Also, I’ve arbitrarily limited it to one book per author. In a number of cases that one book is a stand-in for “and X other books by Y.”

Looking over the list, I see very little Literature, not much violence apart from historical novels where it’s kept at a distance, a lot of children’s books and a strong weighting towards English novels written between the world wars. I’m also strongly inclined towards lengthy series and historical novels. Part of that’s because I read fast.

What about the rest of you? Where do you turn for comfort reading?

Jane Austen: Persuasion (and everything else except Emma.)

E. F. Benson: Queen Lucia (and the rest of the Lucia novels)

Earnest Bramah: The Wallet of Kai Lung

Ann Bridge: Illyrian Spring

Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island

Lois McMaster Bujold: A Civil Campaign (and the rest of the Vorkosigan saga)

Manning Coles: A Toast to Tomorrow

Pamela Dean: Tam Lin

Jane Duncan: My Friends the Miss Boyds

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (and the rest of the Lymond saga)

C.S. Forester: Flying Colors (and the other Hornblower books, except Lord Hornblower which I will never read again because if I don’t read it, Bush doesn’t die.)

Georgette Heyer: Devil’s Cub (and the other Regency romances, now sadly so memorized that it’ll be years before I can read them again)

Eva Ibbotsen: A Countess Below Stairs

Shirley Jackson: Life Among the Savages

Diana Wynne Jones: Fire and Hemlock (and about half of the rest of her oeuvre)

Rudyard Kipling: Kim

C. S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (and the other Narnia books; also memorized)

Lucy M. Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables

Mary Norton: The Borrowers

Elizabeth Pope: The Perilous Gard

Richard Powell: Pioneer, Go Home!

Margery Sharp: The Flowering Thorn

Nevil Shute: Trustee from the Toolroom (and most of his other books, but not On the Beach.)

D.E. Stevenson: Miss Buncle’s Book

Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove: Household Gods

Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time

Angela Thirkell: Northbridge Rectory (and the rest of the Barsetshire novels)

Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers (and the rest of the Chronicles of Barsetshire)

Sigrid Undset: Kristin Lavransdatter

Cynthia Voight: Homecoming

Winifred Watson: Miss Pym Lives for a Day

 

 

 

 

87 Comments
  1. Twain, RAH, Willy the Shake, Stirling, Drake, Frankowski, Harrison, many others.

    September 6, 2018
  2. My comfort books are now so many that they seriously crowd out my new reading…

    September 6, 2018
  3. Anything by Jack Vance, especially the Tschai set.
    The Brother Cadfael series.

    The main problem is… read one, wind up binging on the entire collection. Well, at least I get thoroughly comforted. 😀

    September 6, 2018
    • TRX #

      +1 on Vance and Tschai. And some Norton and Simak. And the Carter Brown’s “Al Wheeler” detective stories. It’d take half a dozen of them to make a full-length novel by modern standards, but I can knock one off in 45 minutes on nights I can’t get to sleep…

      September 6, 2018
    • I’m reading Brother Cadfael for the first time, and I think it is going to be an addition to my comfort read list. Possibly even on the list of “like it so well I want to track down dead-tree hardcovers of it”.

      September 7, 2018
  4. Jeff Greason #

    RAH, nearly the entire run, but especially the “juveniles” and “starship troopers” — but not “door into summer” or “time enough for love” — those are too precious to spoil by over-reading, so I try to limit those to once every year or two.

    Niven’s “known space” books.

    Stainless Steel Rat.

    Conan’s Robert E. Howard originals.

    Borroughs’ “Barsoom — first four books”

    Hornblower

    The Illiad and the Odyssey

    Pournelle & Niven, “Footfall” (I loved Mote but somehow it just isn’t as much FUN)

    Ursula Vernon, “Digger” — cannot say enough about this. If there’s anything other than Maus that can break the hoodoo that graphic novels aren’t literature, it is this (and Maus is hardly a ‘comfotable’ read)

    Federick Forsyth’s early stuff — Odessa File, Dogs of War, Day of the Jackal

    Lindbergh, “The Spirit of St. Louis”

    Nevil Shute, “Slide Rule” ((even today, want to know what a start-up aircraft or aerospace company is like? Read this book))

    Doc Smith, Lensman series and Skylark series

    Some of the Asimov/Greenberg short story collections, especially “Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories 1”, and “Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction, Second Series”

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea & The Mysterious Island

    Lord Darcy

    The Paratime Series (including Lord Kalvan)

    And a non-fiction set but one so entertaining and so instructive that I reread at least once a year:

    Clark, “Ignition!”

    Gordon, “Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” and “The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don’t Fall Through The Floor”

    And a few old favorites which I’m afraid I may have “read out” and no longer enjoy simply because they’re too familiar (probably >50 readings), or I have “aged out” and they no longer seem to apply, but once they did.

    The original James Bond books by Ian Fleming

    Dragonriders of Pern trilogy

    The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit

    The original Dune trilogy

    September 6, 2018
    • Jeff Greason #

      Oh, and how could I possibly have forgotten the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and the modern homage to them, the “Mary Russell” books starting with “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”

      September 6, 2018
    • Draven #

      I read through a collection of the original Conan stories recently and liked them alot.

      September 6, 2018
    • Could I ask for a link to the ‘Why you don’t fall through the floor’ one, please? I love Ignition, and still giggle on occasion – by seeking out – the (water? Sand?) won’t save you now!’ one. Bahahahaha~

      September 6, 2018
    • Roger Ritter #

      I’ll second you on “Digger”. I really regretted the end of that series.

      September 8, 2018
  5. +1 on Homecoming, if that’s the one I think it is. Read it, Dicey’s Song, and a fantasy bit about mining coal and a world with no sun (at least I think that’s her…), but I never remember names.
    Comfort books, though. A Wrinkle in Time used to be. Memorized it in grade school. Narnia. Atlas Shrugged, believe it or not. Hmm. Probably LOTR, maybe Prydain. Dune gets a re-read every now and again.

    September 6, 2018
    • Oh! And The Three Musketeers and The Giver. 😊 And another +1 for Sherlock Holmes.

      September 6, 2018
  6. In all honesty, I rarely reread a book. There are too many out there I haven’t gotten to yet, I don’t have time to go back and reread a favorite. The only book I’ve read 4-5 times is the ‘Last Unicorn’ by Peter S. Beagle. I’ve read the LOTR books twice.

    September 6, 2018
    • Aimee Morgan #

      Your comment has broken my brain. I put books I’ve read in 4 categories:

      1) Horrible – didn’t finish or had to force myself to finish. If I own a dead-tree version it gets dropped in the Goodwill box
      2) Okay – I read it, and passed the deadtree version along to someone I like
      3) Good – I put the dead tree version back on the shelf to be re-read some other time. For eBooks, it gets put into a “collection” on my Kindle so I know it was good.
      4) Very Good – I started re-reading the book or series as soon as I finished. I likely own this in at least two versions (eBook, dead tree, audible)

      TL/dr – I judge the quality of a book by how quickly I want to re-read it.

      September 7, 2018
  7. Good non-fiction. _The Blue Sword_, some of the Dragonriders books, but mostly history and essays. When I’m, that tired, I need short and not something that will kick off an emotional storm.* Generally, when I’m at that point, I need to plug my headphones into the stereo (now computer or iLeash), lay on the floor and just let the brain go numb.

    *I become overly-emotional, both laughter and tears, when I get too tired. The dumbest things can trigger the storm, so I tend to avoid emotion-related reading then.

    September 6, 2018
    • When I’m over-tired, and stressed, that’s when I reach for a ‘weepy book’ – a Lynne Graham romance novel. I’m actively looking for the emotional release triggering tears (and laughter, because she often has very funny characters.) The brief release prevents serious blowups for me.

      I would normally include Anne Bishop books, but her latest series (the Others) I found a touch too trauma-triggering – in fact, I warned my husband off them, because of one particular atrocity the bad guys do – drown entire batches of infant boys as ‘useless trash,’ because only the girls have the special power they’ve been breeding for and exploiting. But for that one thing, I’d enjoy the characters and story just fine.

      September 6, 2018
      • Oh good lord. Now I’m glad I haven’t started that series yet. *shudder*

        September 6, 2018
        • There’s a lot about it I like, mind. It’s Anne Bishop; her writing is entertaining to me after all. And the scenes involving that particular point answered the question I had as a reader. Has even less sex than Tir Alainn (with good reason) and is an entertaining deconstruction/poke at of most modern urban fantasy romance settings.

          However, the bad guys here are probably some of the most evil in her writing so far (to me anyway).

          September 6, 2018
      • I met one author several years ago and complimented her on a book—and then said I couldn’t recommend it to a number of friends, because of a “death of a child” scene. She looked a bit startled and said she’d never thought of that as a trigger point, which I guess is fair since the theme of the book involved someone who could talk with the dead.

        September 7, 2018
  8. Draven #

    Starship Troopers or A Hymn Before Battle

    September 6, 2018
  9. Hmm … Mary Stewart’s mystery-romances: Madam Will You Talk, The Moonspinners, My Brother Michael. I took a tour of duty in Greece because of the way she described Greece, and a side trip to Provence — including a diversion to Les Baux.
    Barbara Hambly – the Darwith Trilogy, and a mystery she did early on “Search the Seven Hills” – set in first-century Rome.
    Nevil Schute also – and also anything but “On the Beach.”
    George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman books, and the McAuslan short story collections.

    September 6, 2018
    • Margaret Ball #

      Mary Stewart — oh, yes. My Brother Michael sent me to Greece the summer after I graduated, and it was every bit as glorious as I’d expected.

      September 6, 2018
    • Roger Ritter #

      George McDonald Fraser – yes. I’ve bought everything of his that I could, and especially enjoy the Flashman and McAuslan stories. His autobiography (“The Light’s on at Signpost”) is also good.

      September 8, 2018
  10. Of course Heyer. Second the Brother Cadfael, especially The Summer of the Danes. Rex Stout. Jane Austen. Thr Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff and, (I’m not sucking up or anything but) Dorothy Grant’s books are moving in the comfort direction judging by the number of times I have read them.

    September 6, 2018
  11. Oooo! You have so many of my favorites on your list—so many of my own comfort reads—that I suspect my reading tastes may be similar to yours. Which means that you’ve just delivered a treasure trove to me! Evey single title on your list that I have not yet read—and there were quite a few—goes on my TBR. Thank you, Margaret Ball!

    September 6, 2018
    • Isn’t that fun when it happens?

      September 7, 2018
  12. The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour for historical fiction
    Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman (pretty much any in that series written by him) for mystery.
    When I’m feeling blue and need a pick me up, it’s usually either Temporary Insanity by Jay Johnstone (funny baseball stories) or How Much For Just the Planet? (the Star Trek novel everyone else hates.
    the Sherlock Holmes stories by A.C. Doyle when I’m looking for something quick.

    September 6, 2018
    • If you can find it, his photo book _Hillerman Country_ is wonderful. It has excerpts from the books and photos of the locations involved, plus his own stories about places.

      September 6, 2018
      • I believe my Mom has a copy, but I’ve not read it yet.

        September 7, 2018
  13. Oddly enough, one of my comfort books is my favorite from when I was eight years old: Watership Down. I’ve always been a bit weird.

    Of course, my problem is that I read fast, so “comfort novels” is usually best termed “comfort authors” or “comfort series”. I’m actually logging my reads this year on Goodreads, so I’m trying to not read the same book twice in one year. We’ll see how that goes—I’ve made it past the first half of the year.

    September 6, 2018
  14. Definitely with you on Diana Wynne Jones– Howl’s Moving Castle was a great comfort of late.

    September 6, 2018
    • Me, too – my other faves of hers are the Chrestomancis and Deep Secret.

      September 6, 2018
      • Draven #

        Crestomancy? toothpaste magic?

        September 6, 2018
        • Chrestos means something like “worthy, useful, virtuous”. Famous today because Tacitus and many Romans thought that was Jesus’ title.

          September 7, 2018
          • Draven #

            Ah say ah say thasssa thassa joke, son…

            September 7, 2018
          • That is roughly as awesome as the Son/sun pun in English. ❤

            September 7, 2018
  15. You’ve got a lot of mine there – Austin, Diana Wynne Jones, Heyer, Bujold, etc. I’d add Pratchett and L. Frank Baum. I also re-listen to Pratchett and Harry Dresden on talking books a lot.

    Oddly enough, if I’m really upset/depressed, where it’s hard to focus, I will go to the other extreme and read violent true crime murder stories. I think the intensity not only helps me focus, but it gives me an outlet for my negative emotions, and I also get structure and direction from the actions of the detectives and a final release when the criminal is caught.

    September 6, 2018
    • As I mentioned above, I sometimes need things which are not quite comfort reads, but are outlets of negative emotions.

      September 6, 2018
    • Huh. That might explain why I like certain forms of horror a lot. (Spent one October going through Crime Library’s database of serial killers—though that’s a little more attributable to semi-Goth interest level.)

      September 7, 2018
      • Yeah, in fiction, I go more toward the Gothic or ghost story for horror, the psychological, heavy on character, with the good guys winning in the end, triumphing over supernatural evil which implies supernatural good kind of thing.

        Don’t care for modern splatter horror much – but there are exceptions, mostly with characters I like and root for who triumph, though I suppose that just hits my action adventure buttons.

        September 10, 2018
  16. I need to reread Anne of Green Gables. Actually, I need to buy a new copy. I keep giving them away and it’s about time for my daughter to start on the series.

    Terry Pratchett. I don’t know how many times I’ve read Small Gods

    Pride and Prejudice

    Jane Eyre

    Anything by Emma Holly. Yes, really. Even *that* book.

    September 6, 2018
  17. Zsuzsa #

    Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are old friends at this point, and I always enjoy spending the evening with them.

    September 6, 2018
  18. Blake Smith #

    Another vote for Georgette Heyer. I also read Dick Francis mysteries when I need something light, because I know the hero is going to win, no matter how bad the situation. And Pat McManus’s short story collections are nice and light, and make me laugh when I need to.

    September 6, 2018
  19. Mary #

    The 13 Clocks by James Thurber.

    Definitely tend toward the YA and children’s when I’m not up to much.

    September 6, 2018
    • LOVE 13 Clocks! Another similar one I re-read is The House With the Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs, or his other one, The Face in the Frost.

      Definitely lean toward YA, or at least, older YA.

      September 6, 2018
      • TonyT #

        Love the 13 Clocks, too, and have read it to my kids

        How does the movie of The House With the Clock in its Walls compare to the book? I saw the trailer and wasn’t impressed

        September 7, 2018
        • Zsuzsa #

          Doesn’t come out for another two weeks.

          The trailers struck me as far too much “wacky hijinks,” which was not at all the spirit of the book. It’s possible that the trailer is lying (they do that), but given that Uncle Jonathan is being played by Jack Black, my guess is that the trailers are all too accurate.

          September 7, 2018
          • Yeah, the trailers look like they’re Harry Pottering it up, which still might be okay, but I’m going to wait for the reviews before I see it. It might be a good movie for people who haven’t read the book, but I’m going to be pretty picky about it.

            September 10, 2018
  20. I don’t so much have comfort books as comfort authors-authors that I can trust to write a good story and make it enjoyable.

    Most of them are Baen authors, which is kind of sad. John Ringo, David Drake, David Weber, Eric Flint, Tom Kratman, etc, etc, etc…

    September 6, 2018
  21. I’m going to add one of my favourites who hasn’t appeared in any of the above lists.

    An old favourite, The Heritage Trilogy: Semper Mars/Luna Marine/Europa Strike by Ian Douglas pseudonym of William H. Keith Jr.

    And new (as in more recent), Larry Correia: The Monster Hunter series.

    September 7, 2018
  22. ashkalar #

    My #1 most-read is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. First read it as a graduate student and it was an epiphany. Have read it more than a dozen times since, including the entirety of the 50-page speech. 😉

    And I agree with equestriaverse about having comfort authors. 😉

    A few favorites that I can think of quickly:

    Classics:

    Percival Christopher Wren – Beau Geste

    Baroness Orczy – The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

    Anna Sewell – Black Beauty. I checked it out of the library several times as a child, and I re-read it last year in the Kindle version after mumble-mumble years.

    SF/Fantasy:

    Anne McCaffrey – The Pern books

    Susan Cooper – The Dark is Rising (5 books)

    Bujold – The Vorkosigan Saga

    Weber – the early Honor Harrington books. The later ones and spinoffs got too unwieldy IMNSHO.

    Katherine Kurtz – the Deryni books, especially the early ones

    Diane Duane – her Wizardry series. Deep Wizardry is my favorite of those.

    Mercedes Lackey – Her Fairy Godmother series, and the Valdemar books, plus others. My absolute favorite work of hers is The Last Herald Mage Trilogy.

    Romance:

    I am very partial to Regency, Georgian, and early Victorian romances. I came late to Georgette Heyer so it will be a while before I go back to re-read those. But here are a few authors that I am currently reading for at least the third time or so.

    Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice

    Mary Balogh – especially the Bedwyn series and the Survivors’ Club series

    Jo Beverley – especially Company of Rogues series and Malloren series

    Eloisa James – especially Desperate Duchesses series

    September 7, 2018
  23. Luke #

    The Hobbit
    The Silmarillion (I’m weird. I admit it.)
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    Discworld up to, and including, Small Gods
    The Oz books
    Alice in Wonderland
    The Hunting of the Snark
    Poe (esp. Masque of the Red Death)
    Lovecraft (esp. The Terrible Old Man)
    The Black Company (Up to Murgen taking over the Annals)
    Kipling (esp.poems or Captains Courageous)
    Treasure Island
    Pat McManus (I’m kind of shocked he made someone else’s list)

    But I really think pride of place in the category goes to The Holy Bible

    September 7, 2018
    • Luke #

      How could I have left out The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

      Expect addendums as I slap my forehead.

      September 7, 2018
      • Luke #

        The Compleate Enchanter
        That one Scottish play, by the guy with a dirty joke for a name
        Robert E. Howard (esp. Beyond the Black River)
        Bram Stoker (esp. The Judge’s House)
        Fahfard and The Grey Mouser (pick a book, any book)
        Nine Princes in Amber (and the rest of the series, which does *not* involve Merlin)
        The Sentinel by Clarke (the themes of his longer works leave me cold, but most of his short stories are excellent)
        Nightfall by Asimov (IMO, his novels stunk on ice, but he had some good shorts)
        Dandelion Wine

        I also thought of several that were in my youth, but that I’ll never revisit for fear of destroying the magic. E. B. White features prominently. As do The Borrowers. And L’Mort d Arthur.

        September 7, 2018
  24. BrionyB #

    Unfortunately, my long-time favourite comfort read was The Mists of Avalon, though since the revelations about MZB I haven’t felt so inclined to go back to it…

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion books are ones I keep coming back to. Almost any of Georgette Heyer’s romances are good to re-read. I’m strangely fond of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series (a lot of his other series are great too, though can get a bit same-y once you figure out that the main character is always basically Sharpe).

    September 7, 2018
    • Mike Houst #

      I like MZB’s Darkover series. However, in light of her, indiscretions, I distrust most of her scenes involving sex or intimacy with her characters. It just seems too much like persuasion or self-justification. At least John Norman was up front and blatant with his Gor series misogyny/sexual differentiation.

      On the other hand, it just doesn’t seem possible for Gorean society to survive for even a single generation. Norman has no viable social structure for families, bearing and raising of children. Something I need to keep in mind with any world-building stories I decide to develop. You need rug rats, lots of them; and social units/families that make care, protection, training, and raising to adulthood of children their primary function.

      September 7, 2018
      • BrionyB #

        I’m generally in favour of separating the artist from their work, and I haven’t thrown out her books or anything. But when I think of the recurring plot motif in Mists of Avalon of little girls being taken away from their families and being “set free” of traditional morality and rules, etc… well, knowing what I know now about the author, that’s just a bit more disturbing than I want from a comfort read.

        September 7, 2018
        • Zsuzsa #

          Yeah. I’m in a different position, since I never liked Mists of Avalon, but there are definitely a bunch of scenes that were largely forgettable on my first read that now make me say, “Wait a second. What the HECK??!!!”

          September 7, 2018
      • GOOD.

        I wish more people would do that– I am getting heartily sick of setups where anybody who has more than one or two birthings (twins or triplets get a pass because #magic) is a dowdy lump who is, frankly, rather worthless.
        Gee, maybe you could spend less time agnsting about how there isn’t enough magic around if you could be bothered to actually have children?

        Resulting in two different cultures in a fantasy world I’m working on that fill that plothole– one only survives by both raiding for children young enough to warp and a harem system stripped of romantic possibilities. (Women are community property, unless they can get a protector– and the cult’s mindset is that mates are worthless, fathers are irrelevant, though mothers can be valued and trusted. And even then they have to get a big leg up from what amounts to evil godlings/ weakend old ones. Gives a good mook value, some backstory, and honestly I can lift 90% of the on-screen stuff straight out of Indian raids.)
        The other has a selective breeding and bootcamp program to promote their magic users, coupled with an aggressive targeting of the other side’s magic users or inactive carriers.

        September 7, 2018
    • Chalion is how I first encountered Bujold’s work. Saw The Curse of Chalion at a library sale, thought, Hey, someone was telling me her work was awesome, and picked it up. Read it, got to the end, took a deep breath, re-read the last dozen pages, then started at the beginning again just to see how she did it. Still one of my favorite books of all time.

      September 7, 2018
  25. I read and re-read and re-read again The Hobbit, and the LOTR books for years when I was a kid, but I blame a small school library, and no money for books so there wasn’t a lot of other options. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them, but I didn’t really know what else was out there. As an adult with disposable income, I’ve found a much wider world.

    Now days, a lot of my “comfort-reading” is more Audio books rather than actual reading since I have an hour long commute home from work every day, and that commute is about the only “alone” time (besides sleeping) that I get anymore. It sucks being a single parent, but my kids didn’t handle me dating very well, so alone I remain. Their happiness/well being is more important than my own, any parents out there will understand.

    I do have a few things I re-read every so often, although it’s as much for enjoyment as it is comfort.

    Glen Cook, The Black Company series. Yes, I love Dark Fantasy… sue me. LOL!

    Larry Correia. Well… pretty much anything he has written. MHI, Grimnoir Cronicles, and more

    Sarah Hoyt, Dark Ship series.

    Brian Jacques, Redwall series. (I got into them because I wanted to read them to my kids. As things go sometimes with kids… they HATED them. LOL! Maybe when they are older…)

    David Eddings, A while back I found a copy of one of the Belgariad books in a used book store and was reminded how much I loved the series as a young adult. I’ve since re-read the Belgariad, and plan on re-reading the rest when I have time. Some of the later series came out since I originally read Eddings, so some of that will be new reads.

    September 7, 2018
  26. Kord #

    Ringo Everything.
    Weber
    Eddings. Belgarion and Sparhawk
    Tolkien
    W.E Johns Sgt. Biggleworth, preferably pre WW2
    Pratchett Everything with Commander Vimes
    Freer Pyramids, Rats and Heirs
    Flanagans Broderband
    Kratman, skipping chapters but following some protags. I can start a well-known book in the middle and just enjoy a chapter or two.
    Harry Dresden, most of them.
    The Codominum books by Pournelle and friends.

    Mathemagics by M Ball about once every other year, not as comfort but because it’s way fun.

    September 7, 2018
  27. Synova #

    I tend to reread entirely nameless, thin, category romances when I’m entirely strung out or ill. There’s really nothing particularly good about them beyond a nice story, a wee cry, a little sex, and nothing that I found overly annoying, and the fact that I already know that.

    What I really ought to do, though, is read those *instead* of mindlessly clicking through social media while hunched over and miserable in my chair because my brain won’t work. It’s almost as though I’ve forgotten the value of a nice little story with a happy ending. Why and for what? Certainly for nothing good.

    September 7, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      That last paragraph somehow sounds familiar.

      September 7, 2018
  28. Off-topic: the old Sad Puppies 4 site has been hacked. I learned this from a gleeful report in the latest issue of Ansible.

    September 7, 2018
    • Synova #

      Gee whiz. For what possible purpose on Earth?

      September 7, 2018
      • Because they are still obsessed, and cannot stand the fact that we are not.

        September 7, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        Possibly collect posting credentials from the parties involved in order to target further attacks?

        September 7, 2018
  29. Bujold, esp. Vorkosigan and Chalion (though the more I reread the Sharing Knife books, the more I enjoy them.)

    Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion books. Now that five more got tacked onto the original trilogy, it’s wonderful comfort reading. (Though I have not yet ever read the two Gird-based books. I hear the first one is great, but the one about Luap sucks and not even the author likes it.)

    Lindsey Davis’ Falco mysteries (someday, I will read the whole series). But most especially the first one, Silver Pigs, which remains one of my all time favorite books.

    Georgette Heyer

    Various regency romances by various authors (though I have a bit of a soft spot for Courtney Milan)

    David Eddings, sometimes (and sometimes I get deeply annoyed at the recycled plotline).

    The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper

    Lloyd Alexander (anything by him, but especially the Prydain books)

    As I mentioned up-thread, I’ve started reading Cadfael for the first time, and I think that series may end up on the list of comfort reads.

    September 7, 2018
    • Ack, and how could I forget Pratchet?!

      September 7, 2018
    • Yeah, the Luap book is a lot of self-indulgent whining. And it doesn’t *quite* mesh with what she did with the Paksenarrion follow-up series, probably because she re-thought the value of what she’d written there. So self-indulgent and unreliable narrator to boot. I really like what she did with the five books there and think they’re better than the original trilogy.

      September 7, 2018
  30. Stanley Miller #

    I go old, stuff that will take me far away from modern problems and stress, I have a selection of their books handy in paper.

    Hal Clement
    Poul Anderson
    Kieth Laumer
    Christopher Anvil
    Anne McCaffrey
    Daniel Keys Moran

    September 7, 2018
    • TRX #

      I loved “Mission of Gravity”, but I never warmed to any of Clement’s other books.

      Oddly, I found the Mesklinites to be far more personable than his human characters…

      September 7, 2018
  31. See, posts and comment threads like these are why I will *never* lack for potential things to read, only the time in which to read them all….

    My comfort reads vary; sometimes it is more a theme/style than a particular book that I am seeking, but off the top of my head….

    Lois McMaster Bujold – Vorkosigan, Chalion, and Sharing Knife
    Brian Jacques – Redwall series
    Terry Pratchett – anything with Vimes or Tiffany Aching
    Diana Wynne Jones
    Garth Nix – particularly the Old Kingdom books
    Megan Whalen Turner – Queen’s Thief series
    Wendy and Richard Pini – ElfQuest (mostly the original series and the Kings of the Broken Wheel arc)
    Georgette Heyer
    Jane Austen
    Susan Cooper – The Dark is Rising sequence
    Dorothy Gilman – Mrs. Pollifax
    Rhys Bowen – Her Royal Spyness series
    J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter
    L.M. Montgomery – Anne and Emily both
    John Flanagan – Ranger’s Apprentice
    Shanna Swendson – Enchanted Inc series and her Fairy Tale series

    I know there are others that I am forgetting, but that is always the way of things. I also know I have a bunch of things to look up and add to my TBR. 🙂

    September 7, 2018
    • When I’m on this website I really feel that I wasted years and years of rereading because I couldn’t find new stuff I liked. I also love these lists.

      September 7, 2018
  32. deklane #

    My comfort books tend to light non-fiction, like collections of popular science essays. I don’t want to get involved in a plot that I have to follow and concentrate on, I just want something I can dip into almost anywhere. Old science essay collections by L. Sprague de Camp, Willy Ley, and even Dr. Asimov are particular favorites, even if some of them are showing their age and would need double-checking for current information about a topic if I wanted to use them as a source for something I’m writing.

    September 7, 2018
    • An oldie in this category is Stephen Jay Gould. I don’t always agree with him and I’m guessing he would be dated but he wrote well.

      September 7, 2018
  33. Ben Yalow #

    At least annually, I’ll reread Zelazny’s Lord of Light, Smith’s Lensmen series, and LOTR.

    Baen’s 7 volume Poul Anderson Technic civilization future history. And Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, The High Crusade, Operation Chaos, Tau Zero, The Star Fox. And the NESFA Press 7 volume collected shorter works of Anderson.

    Brackett – The Sword of Rhiannon (and often more)

    Clement – Mission of Gravity, Iceworld

    Kuttner/Moore – Fury/”Clash by Night”; Robots Have No Tails (and often more)

    RAH – Double Star, Citizen of the Galaxy

    Garrett – Lord Darcy

    Sherlock Holmes, usually followed by Anderson’s, “The Martian Crown Jewels” (the best “Holmes” story that Conan Doyle never wrote).

    A bunch of H. Beam Piper — how much depends on how bad my “I hate SF” mood is, since he’s better than almost anyone at reminding me how much fun reading SF can be.

    James White – the Sector General novels

    Not much current stuff, since I’ve usually got to reread an entire series when a new volume comes out, just to get back into it, which usually means a lot of modern stuff is getting reread for catchup purposes.

    September 7, 2018
  34. Randy Wilde #

    There are quite a few books I re-read periodically, but for “comfort books” I turn to McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger and Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

    If I’m seriously stressed out, these three books become invaluable. Usually one is enough to do the trick, and I’ve never been so bad the reading all three didn’t calm me down.

    I guess a lot of it is a nostalgia factor. I came across these books at a much simpler time in my life, and they’re really what got me hooked on SF/F.

    September 7, 2018
  35. A lot of the books listed are comfort reading for me as well. I often go to YA for comfort reading, but I’ll also do variations on a theme, like retellings of fairy tales (Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey (what do you think those Elemental Mage books are?), Serena Valentino) or gentle mysteries (Marian Babson or Nancy Atherton). I’ll even occasionally delve into history or geology for comfort reading.

    September 7, 2018
    • Here’s my reading for the year. Large portions of that fall into “comfort reading” zone, though it’s mostly because I’m in mom mode and don’t have a lot of brain cells to spare.

      September 7, 2018
  36. Roger Ritter #

    I was gonna say Nevil Shute, but you covered it exactly in the article. Trustee From The Toolroom is a wonderful comfort book, but I’ll happily read or re-read any of his (except On The Beach – just too depressing).

    September 8, 2018

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