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Wednesday Five: Comfort Reads

November 23, 2011

In a recent blog post, author Lauren Willig asked about comfort reads, “those books you turn to when you’re so thoroughly wiped out that turning a page feels like a major endeavor.”

I haven’t read the books on her list, but here are the kinds of books I seek out when I need a book to help me feel better.

And sometimes, what I need most isn’t a book I’ve already read, but something new that’s similar enough to one of my familiar favorites, to cheer me up in the same way, with a different set of characters.

I find that February is a big month for comfort reading. By then, I’m really done with winter, and feeling kind of stressed and blue.

1. The Pink Carnation series, by Lauren Willig, particularly The Masque of the Black Tulip because I love the Henrietta and Miles banter. I feel a bit of a teacher’s pet (author’s pet) saying this, considering the source of the question, but what can I say? The fact that Lauren Willig appears to be on a February publishing schedule is just a gift from the universe. I think The Black Tulip, The Orchid Affair, and The Betrayal of the Blood Lily are going to be at the top of my reading list when this February rolls around. Noting- I already have a copy of her forthcoming book, The Garden Intrigue, but… I think I’m saving it for when it snows!

2. Any foodie memoir or foodie fiction is pretty guaranteed to soothe my soul when I feel grouchy and rumpled. Whether it’s a reread, like Comfort Food, by Kate Jacobs; or a new book, I know good food writing will make me happy.

3. YA fiction, whether it’s a reread, like My Most Excellent Year, or reading something new, can be tremendously soothing. If it’s the right kind of YA, of course. As a rule, apocalyptic and dystopian scenarios are not things I read. (The Hunger Games series was a weirdly notable exception.) Having survived high school algebra and P.E. (though I still have nightmares!) and all the drama of first kisses and first crushes, makes it satisfying to read about teen characters and their upheavals.

4. The Westing Game. No surprise! Because I’ve read it more times than any other book. And, if I’m really feeling stressed and distressed (or insomniacal,) I can polish it off, start to finish in one night. Because I wasn’t going to sleep anyway, and it’s still fun, even after all these years of reading it.

5. Audiobooks read in a nice, gravelly voice. I rely on audiobooks to help me get to sleep. James Herriot, read by Christopher Timothy, is a good go-to. American Gods is a particularly well-executed audiobook, with different voices for different characters. But it gives me strange dreams if I fall asleep as I listen.

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