favourite books, laptop computer and small notebook

Comfort Reading

You know how sometimes you just want “comfort food?” No fancy stuff, no fretting about nutritional balance, just something simple, starchy and familiar.

It’s the same with books. When I’m dealing with something difficult, or am just fed up with the complications and nastiness of the world, I want to read something low-key and predictable. No tension, no conflict, no edginess or dark themes. It’s more than escapism; when even fictional adventures in an imaginary world with its own history and rules are too stressful, I want to send my battered mind into a safe, quiet space where I know exactly what’s going to happen. Spoilers are definitely not an issue.

The degree of tension and turmoil — present and anticipated — in the world these days makes ordinary life challenges, such as interpersonal rubs, illnesses and the losses inflicted by time, harder to bear. Books may be applied like compresses to these psychic sores.

Books for comfort reading are found in all genres, with the possible exception of those requiring violence and gore, although if such a book is dear and familiar, it might just do the trick. That’s the thing about books — the choice is an intensely personal one.

Cozy mysteries are often just the thing. Sure, there are dead bodies, but they are presented in contexts that are, well, cozy, and often furnished with characters ranging from charming to quirky. In the past couple of months, I found myself re-reading the Needed Killing Series by indie author Bill Fitts. The five books are described as “cozy mysteries with a Southern flair.” The pace is slow, the mysteries are just puzzling enough, and they all include animals (cats and dog) as significant characters. The plots always involve a lot of food, so you can vicariously enjoy good cooking (and drinks) while you read. Gentle distractions for a troubled mind.

You’ll notice I mentioned re-reading. That’s the key to comfort reading. When even fictional troubles seem like too much, it’s time to visit the bookshelf of rubbed and tattered books that are like old slippers, or old friends.

ch-books-friends

 

19 comments

  1. Hi Audrey,
    Yes I agree, with the political climate in the US, I too look for some escape. I find myself reading more post and spending extended time writing just to avoid having to watch the news. My best friend is so upset she is going psychologist. This mess is affecting people in a negative way. We need to pray for the leaders to bring harmony and God’s love to our country.

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  2. I can really empathise with this sentiment. Personally, I find the Redwall books by Brain Jacques very reassuring comfort reading – plots that assure the triumph of good over evil, endearing (and cute!) characters, lots of vivid descriptions of food, and a whimsical woodland setting 🙂

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  3. Wonderful post!!! I wrote in my blog today about having “books to cheer up by” and I very much enjoyed your post! If you dont mind I’ll refer to your post in my blog next week because your post is so good!!! Happy comfort reading to us all!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Sue! I’d be delighted if you mention that post. (I had to go back and read it because I had forgotten all about it.)
      Comfort reading is needed more than ever now.

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    1. Cozy mysteries are a good choice, Liz. There are problems to solve, but you know there won’t be anything too gory or weird. That’s where book genres are useful–the reader knows where the boundaries are.

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