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 Pettigrew Lives for a Day