Monday, November 23, 2009

Comfort Books

Comfort books - what a great concept. Just like comfort food, only better. No calories, and they last a lot longer :)

My friend Belle over at Ms. Bookish is hosting the 42nd Bookworms Carnival. Her theme, you guessed it, is comfort books.

I can literally disappear into a book. I'm sure many of you are the same. The world, with its worries and despairs, just goes away. I'm whisked off to a new world. Sure, its got its own share of worries and despairs, but that's okay. I suspend my disbelief and fly with the characters.

The first book I fell into was Anne of Green Gables. I'd never met anyone quite like Anne. As a shy, serious girl, I wanted to be Anne's friend. I wanted her nerve, her imagination and her joy.

The Hobbit was probably the next book to completely capture my imagination. Bilbo is such a great character - and the magic! I couldn't get enough Gandalf. When my parents bought me a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings, I didn't resurface for weeks. I tend to reread these books every few years. Love them.

Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern series is another one I can't get enough of. I've read all of the books at least twice. The planet is perfectly created. The mix of science, fantasy, vivid characters and a unique society combine to make this one of my favourite comfort reads. I can slip into their world and wonder what it would be like...

Agatha Christie's mysteries are kind of like chocolate for me. Sweet, even when you know what the taste is and there's no surprise. I try to leave them for years so that I won't remember the murderer, but the writing is so strong, I tend to remember the clues. I've read "And Then There Were None" to several classes and they loved it. Such a great writer!

Those are a few from my list. What about you? What are your favourite comfort books?


  1. I adore The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford I've read that over and over.

    My perfect comfort book is Prefect You by Elizabeth Scott, I just adore that book, for many reason, but mainly for the kissing :) I do love a good kissing scene (in fact all my December posts are going to be about kissing!!)

    And I agree about Agatha Christie, I love the adaptations too.

  2. The first book that totally blew me away was Wuthering Heights. I still turn to it when I need comfort. But I also enjoy a good romance or YA fantasy novel on occasion. Kind of like watching a rom-com with ice cream on hand. It's nice to lose yourself in something safe. I'm always returning to Harry Potter, too. The last books are so huge, it's easy to forget the small details.

  3. Hmm, I second The Hobbit, and Anne McCaffrey's Pern books. I also return often to Georgette Heyer's Regency novels (which are so much more than romance), George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books (which feature the most dastardly of dastardly anti-heroes) and I can always sink into the Harry Potters.

  4. Alexa - I haven't read the Pursuit of Love yet - I'll have to give it a try.

    Perfect You sounds fun too. I'm looking forward to your December posts :)

  5. Carol - I loved Wuthering Heights as a teen. My folks also bought me a beautiful edition of it. I haven't reread it in years. I'll have to try it again too.

    I agree with the Harry Potter books. I'd like to reread them in a row - see the whole series as one. Have to wait for summer for that though :)

  6. Jo - I haven't tried Heyer's books - in fact I've never read any Regencies. One of these days I'll give them a try. That TBR pile keeps growing! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  7. This past summer I read for the first time "Pride and Prejudice". I had a problem at first getting used to the style, but once I got into it I became totally absorbed. After I finished, I watched 4 different versions on DVD and then read "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies".

    I love Ontario. I used to work with a touring theater company for several years and we would play Pembroke, North Bay, & Sudbury, as well as many other Ont. towns.
    Two memorable things were getting to tour the nuclear power facility near Pembroke and going at night to watch the molten slag get dumped at the nickel smelter. It's a great country up there.


  8. I also second The Hobbit and LOTR. I read some of my old Bloom County comic strip collections if I want to laugh. Other comfortable novels include: Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Watership Down, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five.

  9. Lee - I still haven't read Pride & Prejudice. I have a copy. In fact I've had it since I was quite young. But the cover has always turned me off. One of these days I'll have to break down & read it. So many friends love it, it's gotta be worth it!

    It is indeed beautiful country up here. During the fall season I have a hard time believing anywhere else can rival the beauty we see on a daily basis :)

  10. Charles - So many great choices - although it's been a long time since I've read 22 & Slaughterhouse-Five. My memories are very, very vague. Time for another reread!!

    Thanks so much for dropping by :)

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  12. The Ender's Game series. Hands down :-)

    Also, if I ever struggle with faith - I always return to the Chronicles of Narnia. I absolutely love that series.

    And, dare I admit it? Twilight series. I love going back to reread all four books - they're so easy to get through and I know exactly what's going to happen.

  13. Sara - I loved the Ender series too! Ender is a great character :)

    I STILL haven't read the Twilight books. It causes me some guilt because I try to keep up with the books kids are reading. Maybe over the holidays I'll read at least the first one!

  14. I definitely agree with Carolina on Wuthering Heights. Just thinking of it makes me sigh...Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh...

    At Debbiesworldofbooks (technicaly, how to your write blog titles?), she is hosting "Revisit your childhood favorites challenge." Whether you participate or not, it got me thinking along the same lines as you, Jemi, so I was primed to answer your post...

    'Jacob Have I Loved' by Katherine Paterson, 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' by Elizabeth George Speare and all the 'A Wrinkle In Time' series by Madeline L'Engle.

    I could melt into those books. The fact that they remind me of my childhood is also comforting.

    Great question, Jemi!


  15. Beach Music is one of my favorite comfort books because I can flip it open to almost any page and just get lost in the prose. I love that book.

  16. Michele - those are more of my favourites! And they're always favourites in the classroom. Childhood faves really stay with us, don't they?

  17. Lisa and Laura - Beach Music is new to me. I'll have to check it out - sounds wonderful :)

  18. As a child the Secret Seven series of books were a favourite, along with the Mallory Towers stories (showing my age?). Perhaps I should point out they belonged to my much older sisters. I read them over and over.
    Now I have to say Harry Potter has been well thumbed, along with LOTR, Memoirs of a Geisha and several Elizabeth George novels.
    And yes......... the Twilight saga. Sorry.

  19. Hi Jemi,

    This comment has nothing to do with 'comfort books' but I picked up on what you said about reading Agatha Christie every few years hoping you'd forgotten the plot.

    It brought to mind, a superb piece of dialogue from the comedy/sci-fi series Red Dwarf.

    I've reproduced it here for your and your readers' amusement. For those who aren't familiar, it involves Lister, the sole survivor on a star ship that's been adrift for millions of years, and Holly, the ship's computer who's been alone so long that he's become senile:

    HOLLY appears on the screen, interrupting the movie.

    HOLLY: I've just finished reading everything. I've now read everything that's been written by anyone ever.

    LISTER: Would you go away?

    HOLLY: You know what the worst book ever written by anyone ever was?

    LISTER: I don't care!

    HOLLY: "Football, It's a Funny Old Game" by Kevin Keegan.

    LISTER: Holly, would you let me watch the film?

    The film reappears on the screen.

    HOLLY reappears on the screen, interrupting the movie.

    HOLLY: I'm at a loose end now. I don't know what to do with meself.

    LISTER: Holly, why don't you just read everything all over again.

    HOLLY: I was thinking it might help pass the time if I created a perfectly functioning replica of a woman, capable of independent decision-making and abstract thought and absolutely undetectable from the real thing.

    LISTER: (Sitting up eagerly) Well why don't you, then?

    HOLLY: Because I don't know how. I wouldn't even know how to make the nose.

    LISTER: Holly, is there something that you want?

    HOLLY: Well, only if you're not busy. Would you mind erasing some of my memory banks?

    LISTER: What for?

    HOLLY: Well, if you erase all the Agatha Christie novels from my memory bank, I can read 'em again tonight.

    LISTER: How do I do it?

    HOLLY: Just type, "HolMem. Password override. The novels Christie, Agatha." Then press erase.

    LISTER jabs two-fingered on a keyboard.

    LISTER: I've done it.

    HOLLY: Done what?

    LISTER: Erased Agatha Christie.

    HOLLY: Who's she, then?

    LISTER: Holly, you just asked me to erase all Agatha Christie novels from your memory.

    HOLLY: Why should I do that? I've never heard of her.

    LISTER: You've never heard of her because I've just erased her from your smegging memory.

    HOLLY: What'd you do that for?

    LISTER: You asked me to!

    HOLLY: When?

    LISTER: Just now!

    HOLLY: I don't remember this.

    LISTER: Oh, I'm going to bed. This is gonna go on all night.

    If you're a Red Dwarf fan, I hope that brought back pleasant and amusing memories, if you're not, I hope you liked it anyway.

  20. I love the concept of a comfort novel :) I have read and reread all of Jane Austen's novels 2-5 times each. I love them. If ever I need a safe place to go, Jane Austen is always a good choice.

  21. ...and I suppose, in the spirit of the post, I ought to mention my comfort books.

    I too, used to read The Lord of The Rings every few years; I did this every 4 or 5 years from the age of about 16 up until my mid-40s.

    However, I'm ashamed to say, that since the films came out, I don't have the urge to re-read them so much anymore. I'm sure that I will one day though.

    The first adult sci-fi author I read as a young lad, was John Wyndham, and I still go back to reading Triffids, Chrysalids, and Midwich Cuckoos for comfort from time to time.

    Admission time now: When my kids were younger, I used to read to them at bedtime from the two Winnie the Pooh books, and took a great deal of comfort for myself from that. They're all grown up now, and I often feel nostalgic for those times; I've often considered digging the books out and reading them for myself some time. (Am I a soppy sod or what?)

  22. I can take or leave The Lord of the Rings, but I adore The Hobbit and hole up with Bilbo once a year. "Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." :)

  23. My comfort book is, Lord of the Rings. I love it so much, I could simply eat it! I'm also a Harry Potter fan, so I quite often turn to those when I need a little bit of comfort too.

    Wonderful post :)

  24. Great books you've listed!

    I'm like you--I go back to Agatha Christie. I also like rereading the MC Beaton books (the Hamish Macbeth series in particular.) The cozy Scottish setting is a comfort in itself.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  25. Cate - nothing to apologize for!! If we were all the same, it would be so boring :) Lots and lots of people are enjoying the Twilight saga. Memoirs of a Geisha is another book in my TBR pile that I really have to get to!

  26. Dave - LOVE the dialogue :) I've never seen Red Dwarf, but it sounds like it matches my sense of humour!! I read the Chrysalids in high school and loved it. I'll have to check it out again.

  27. Natalie - another Jane Austen fan! I'm really, really going to have to give her another shot one of these days :)

  28. VR - I love that line - it sets the tone for Hobbiton and Bilbo and the entire novel. Gotta love Biblo :)

  29. Thanks Quill :)

    Another fantasy fan - we have a lot of them!! There is something special about the LoTR for me. The breadth of Tolkein's imagination astounds me.

  30. Elizabeth SC - Christie caught my imagination when I was in grade 7 I think. My parents are from Scotland, so those British mysteries are definitely comfort novels :)

  31. Dave - that's sad about not reading Lord of the Rings anymore! I highly recommend not seeing anymore movies! A sad day for books...

    Jemi - I take it you are a teacher? I hadn't picked up on that before.


  32. Michele - I love the movies, but it's a different love from the love I have for the books :)

    Yes, I'm a teacher - middle school age kids - lots of fun!

  33. Pretty much anything by Meg Cabot or Helen Fielding.

  34. The Joy of Cooking. I love that book and read it as though it was a romantic text.
    I love your blog and can't believe I'm only now just finding it.
    You take care.

  35. Jean - I've never actually read anything by either author - at least I don't think I have. I'll have to check them out.

  36. Rom Q - I love cookbooks as well! I do enjoy reading them for pleasure. And no calories :) Although I do tend to make my faves at some time or another.

    Thank you & thanks so much for dropping by!