Comfort Reading

We all have times when we feel adrift, down, or just plain exhausted, and we can’t take in anything new or challenging.  Or sometimes the change in season brings with it a desire to revisit old friends.  Whatever the spark, most of us have books that we consider “comfort reads.”  I would suspect that most comfort reads are books we’ve read more than once, but sometimes a certain genre in and of itself is a comfort read – romance, mystery, etc.

Sometimes all I want is to read a British mystery.  It feels strange to me to admit that murder mysteries are “comfort” reads for me, but they are.  I don’t go for the overly gory or sadistic ones, although there are plenty of those out there.  Mine are more often the Agatha Christie style, with the murder committed off-stage, so to speak, and the story centering around the “why” and the “who” more than the “how.”  Part of the allure is the recurring detective character, be it Hercule Poirot, Flavia de Luce, or Inspector Reg Wexford.  After reading so many in a series I come to view the characters as old friends.

My list of comfort reads is relatively short, as I tend to want to re-read books more than I actually do so.  Too many shiny new books call my name and attract my attention!  So here is my list of comfort reads, in no particular order:

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (my most-read book, currently at 4 re-readings.)
  • The Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry (I read these as a kid and still love them – they’re so funny and sweet and clever.)
  • The Harry Potter series
  • The Inspector Wexford series by Ruth Rendell (working my way through – I’m on #13)
  • Anything by Barbara Pym (Excellent Women, Jane and Prudence, etc.)
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

So that’s my list of go-to fiction.  I’m feeling like it’s time for me to re-read Harry Potter again – maybe this fall.  I wonder what you, dear reader, consider comfort reading to be.  Do you have some beloved titles you turn to when the going gets tough?  Are you apt to turn to certain genres when the seasons turn?  I would love to hear your thoughts.


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