I was just talking with Victor about comfort books…those books that you read over and over because you find them comforting even if you don’t understand why. He thinks I’m insane and possibly I am, but there are certain books I turn to when my head is in a weird place and I need to go somewhere I’ve been before and relax. I’d tried to explain it to him and he almost understood until I started listing a few and then I realized that most of my comfort books are full of murder and angst and bizarreness and are not really what anyone in the world would consider to be a happy or relaxing read. Books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Geek Love and From the Dust Returned and The Stranger. Worn copies of Bloody Business and Stiff and The 3 Faces of Eve and Alice in Wonderland and pretty much any of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Books that may not make it on my top ten list, but that I compulsively read again and again.
I wonder if I’m the only one like this? Are these the books my head feels comfortable with because I first read them when I was in a good place and my mind unconsciously wants that again? Or does the darkness of the books remind me that I’m not alone, or that it could be worse? I have no idea. So I thought I’d ask you. What are your comfort books? The ones you’ve read over and over…more times than you’ve read your very favorite books. The ones you’d take on a desert island as a medicine, or would need to pull out on a turbulent plane ride? Do those books even exist for you?
And now, the weekly wrap-up:
Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):
- I made this shirt to wear at the grocery store so that no one tries to make small talk with me and also I often get to go to the front of the line. Works well in all scenarios for introverts.
- This is so accurate it’s slightly frightening.
- Best book I read this week: Through the Woods. (Creepy graphic novel. Full of awesome.)
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819 thoughts on “Comfort books. Is this even a thing?”
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An audio book that helps me to sleep is “In Cold Blood.” Not narrated by Truman Capote because that would be weird, but Scott Brick. I find it soothing.
I read The Hunger Games series over and over again. There’s nothing like children killing children….
Swiss Family Robinson, A Girl of the Limberlost, The Egg and I, The Ordinary Princess, The 100 Dresses.
For me it’s mainly mysteries — Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe. Also Good Omens, Pride and Prejudice.
Parts of “Covered in Montana”, “Boys and Girls Like You and Me”, and anything David Sedaris.
A Wrinkle in Time, The Gargoyle, Jane Eyre, anything by Jane Austen.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Can’t tell you how man times I’ve read it, but it’s the book I turn to when I need that unexplainable comfort that you can only get from a book.
I have read To Kill a Mockingbird probably 10 times (and watched the movie countless times too). I make jewelry and have made TKAM jewelry just for me to wear. I bought one of those shirts with the book’s words written all over it. It’s my go-to book. Attiticus reminds me of my dad… Then I bought Go Set a Watchman and have not read it. TKAM is too too perfect.
Not just you. I re-read “The Shell Seekers” by Rosamund Pilcher, the Harry Potter series annually, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, the first three books in the Clan of the Cavebear series. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, or whose name YOU know. Also? Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.
Comfort books are TOTALLY a thing. Mine are both of yours, Lord of the Rings, the Dresden Files series, the Dark Tower series, and wrestler autobiographies.
Of course there are comfort books. I wrote about them a while back. http://wp.me/p4e9wS-3n
Not just you, although mine are all middle grade/YA novels from when I was a child. (Tamara Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet and Diana Wynne Jones’ A Tale of Time City)
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened has become my go-to comfort book. I have a physical copy and the audio book and when I’m having a particularly rough week or driving to and from doctors appointments galore, I read or listen to it and feel more normal in my abnormality.
Yes they definitely do. Both the Harry Potter series and the Dark Tower books are my go-to comfort books. Both print and audio.
Seriously, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” I’ve reread that so many times. 🙂 Also, “The Stranger”, “Gone With the Wind”, “Picture of Dorian Gray”, and “Illusions” by Richard Bach. And any Spenser books by Robert Parker.
Comfort books are absolutely a thing. The entire Harry Potter series are comfort reads for me as well as Little Women just off the top of my head.
It’s not just you 2. it’s not weird, people re-watch all kinds of TV shows (e.g. Buffy, with constant violent death) and movies to feel comfortable/nostalgic, like Jurassic Park, and nothing in the books in your list is as bad as getting bitten in half by a dinosaur when you’re on the shitter (at least, not in the ones on your list that I’ve read) 3. I think it’s all about the familiarity and the characters you love (or, with like Stiff, the narrator’s voice… love that Mary Roach). My nostalgic reading/watching/listening is all about revisiting the characters and the jokes, like hanging out with people from the comfort of my own bed without having to brush my hair. (Also the people never demand anything of me!) I like real people but they take work.
I do this..Harry Potter and Bridget Jones Diary..have read them so many times. Its like visiting old friends between the pages
This is Where I Leave you
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
Prince of Tides
Absolutely! Totally a thing. One of the things that drives me as a writer is trying to create this (both for myself and others).
Mine are ‘Gaudy Night’ by Dorothy L. Sayers, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Mr R., ‘Lovely, Dark and Deep’ by Ali McNamara, ‘Skin Game’ by Jim Butcher, ‘Justice Hall’ by Laurie R. King and ‘Thief of Time’ by Terry Pratchett.
Looking forward to seeing what other people choose and adding them to by TBR pile!
White Oleander. My copy is highlighted.
The Stand. I don’t know what it says about me, but reading it always feels like going home.
You are NOT alone! I have books I’ve been re-reading since I was a teenager. And my list of “comfort books” has grown as I’ve aged. So, tell Victor that we each find comfort in different things. Mine is books with aliens and monsters stomping their way across Earth.
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, anything by Erma Bombeck or Lewis Grizzard…definite comfort books
I retread the Harry Potter series occasionally. They are comfortable like an old pair of jeans.
Ooh . . . I almost forgot. Every year at Christmas, I MUST re-read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read it before, I always have to re-read it each year.
Of course it exists! Mine are Harry Potter and Feeling sorry for Celia!
No, you are not insane. I do this too. That is the reason why, when I have moved 4 different countries, I take my 5000+ books with me. They have been around the world twice. I love different books for different reasons, but they are my friends.
I tend to go to romances in my “meh” phases. The ones where I can’t be really bothered to get into a story that’s more in-depth than “couple meets, is attracted, has minor conflict, resolves (usually by admitting that they love each other), lives HEA.”
Comfort books are totally a thing. Rilla of Ingleside (the last in the Anne of Green Gables series), E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View, Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. I read them because they’re familiar – because when everything else is spinning out of control, I know exactly what’s going to happen in them.
There are ABSOLUTELY comfort books. My list would include Jane Eyre, Kindred (by Octavia Butler), the Harry Potters, and now probably either one of your books. Also Without Remorse and Executive Orders by Tom Clancy and any of a number of John Grisham books. And honestly, if I’m really feeling like I need something simple to crawl into, I will go back to the Twilight series. Yes, I confess it, I am a Twilighter.
Outlander, Harry Potter and the Anne of Green Gables series for me!!!! I’m glad I am not the only one.
The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett or The Star by Clarke. Comfort books are totally a thing!
Jane Eyre. I have read that book over and over and over.
For me, it’s Little Women – which throws me into a Louisa May Alcott binge that takes weeks to recover from. Little Women is a copy I was given in 1966, when I was 6 years old. Even just looking at it makes me happy.
Anything by Shirley Jackson! Oddly comforting.
Little Big by John Crowley is my comfort book. I’ve read it about 20 times. I can’t recommend it enough. Pure relaxing abstract fantasy. And when I’m in the mood for different comfort, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Sometimes I read it just for the footnotes.
Pretty much anything Terry Pratchett, but most usually: Night Watch, Thud, Snuff, The Truth, or Going Postal.
Dragon Tears and The Door to December by Dean Koontz.
Any of the JD Robb books.
Inferno by Dante.
I should probably mention that I read compulsively when I’m stressed, and I’m always stressed – I basically have these on rotation.
Like BookGeekGrrl, for me it’s mostly mysteries. Agatha Christie, Nero Wolfe, Philip Marlowe. And I have a few fanfic stories/series I go back to again and again during tough brain times.
I have a whole bookcase of comfort books. Off the top of my head: The Little House books, especially “The Happy Golden Years,” the Beany Malone books. Paul Monette’s “Borrowed Time” and “Last Watch of the Night,” Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies,” Kathleen Norris “The Cloister Walk,” and M.M. Kaye’s “Shadow of the Moon.”
Harry Potters 1 through 5. Little Women. And, when I simply have trouble processing words because of ministrokes, Jude Devereaux’s Black Lion series.
No, you are not insane. I do this too. That is the reason why, when I have moved 4 different countries, I take my 5000+ books with me. They have been around the world twice. I love different books for different reasons, but they are my friends.
I totally have comfort books – usually series, depending on my mood. But I have recently been re-listening to both of yours on audio, because I’ve been in a really stressful place and they comfort me. I like them best in reverse order for some reason.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. Seeing Europe, the people and places,through his eyes is really relaxing to me.
Also – Searching for Caleb and Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, the Harry Potter books, Edward Eager magic books, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and all the Calvin & Hobbes comics!
Books about serial killers and other various crimes. I think it takes me back to a good time in life. A carefree 23 year old sitting on the beach in Florida reading about Charlie Manson etc.
The first book I ever read more than once was The Mists of Avalon and that became my main comfort book for when I was feeling down and ultimately just needed a good cry. Now, when I need a reminder to not take the world so seriously, I turn to Terry Pratchett and Small Gods, among a few of his other books, and of course Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, for a bit of levity. And then all is right with the world again.
The Sookie Stackhouse series is on my list as well along with Gone With the Wind, the Lord Valentines castle series and the Thorn Birds ( that one I’ve gone through several copies of) so no not weird at all , I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who does this as well!
You are absolutely not the only person with comfort books! I even call them that, myself. Frank Baum’s Oz series are first on my (long) list; I’ve been rereading them for 30+ years. They’re safe – I know what’s coming and when life is seeming uncertain that familiarity is comforting.
Blaze Wyndham by Bertrice Small. I have worn out several copies from reading it more times than I even know. Also the Harry Potter series. Reading these books feels like home. Like putting in fuzzy socks and curling up under a flannel covered down comforter.
It’s absolutely a thing… Pat Conroy and Diane Ackerman are my ‘comfort authors’, to expand the metaphor. I revisit old books with more excitement than new ones, sometimes.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Shining by Stephen King
Any book by Terry Pratchett, but especially the Tiffany Aching series. You and your daughter would have fun reading those together, if you haven’t already.
I have certain things I like to read over and over in the absence of new stuff, but that’s mostly it. When I’m stressed beyond belief, reading ANYTHING is enough to turn the day around for me. It doesn’t actually matter what is going on in the book, so long as it draws me into it. I feel that’s what you’re talking about here, broadly speaking.
Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men, the first Tiffany Aching book. Usually the audiobook. It’s also my go to book when the world is on high suck.
Dean Koontz, specially From The Corner of his Eye, Lightening, Dark Rivers of the Heart, and Watchers. Dark, but he creates the best characters, and there is so much hope and love in his books. The David Eddings Belgariad series, Nora Roberts. I normally hate romance, but hers are just brilliant. Some of my books from childhood, Little Witch and James and the Giant Peach. I’m visiting old friends.
I also love Geek Love. My go to book would have to be World According to Garp
The Twilight Series. I read it every year. When I’m feeling homesick for a place I’ve never been I pull them out and go “home”
The Outlander series. Jaime & Claire are my safe place.
I re-read Bridge of Birds at least once a year. It was a book my grandfather gave me and I find it comforting. And I read Agatha Christie over and over again. I guess she is my literary equivalent of comfort food.
Stella Gibbons’ “Cold Comfort Farm” – my vote for best comfort book ever.
Absolutely the Harry Potter series. Those books are my driftwood raft on a turbulent sea.
My two best comfort books are both by Charles Dickens. David Copperfield and Great Expectations. I get lost in the characters and especially with Great Expectations, I relate so much to the main character. I also have humor comfort books like Naked by David Sedaris. I’ll read those books again and again when I am depressed. ((Hugs))
Almost anything by Robin McKinley. It’s the dreamlike writing that sounds like the voices in my head that really gets to me…even when the content is horrific (Deerskin).
Not crazy. Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series, or Lucia St.Claire Robson. No Shame!
Victor is just plain wrong. Of course there are comfort books, that are a safe haven for you to return to when life is bringing you down. Sometimes those books are light and fluffy, sometimes they can be super gruesome – it does, as you say, depend on your associations with them. I must admit that a lot of my comfort books are romances, by Loretta Chase, Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn and Courtney Milan. There are also some Agatha Christies I never tire of.
Yes, comfort books are a thing. Mine are the Anne of Green Gables series and the Chronicles of Narnia. I think they comfort me, because they bring me back to childhood. There is also something comforting about reading something that you know how it ends when your life or your mind is in chaos. It provides a touchstone of something solid that you know will always turn out the same way every time.
I have comfort shows and movies. Shows and movies I find uplifting or relaxing no matter how often I’ve seen them. As for books, I only tend to reread books I’ve last read long ago.
I have comfort books and comfort fanfics. They range from darkness and themes of perseverance to lighthearted adventure and romance. Same with movies, though the movies are almost always on the more lighthearted side. Oh! And video games!…
Basically when my brain turns against me, I bury myself in media. Escapism at it’s finest, I guess, but hey, it works so I’m not likely to stop!
My comfort book (series) is the Inkworld series. My inkheart book is in complete tatters. Along with my Harry Potter books (I think their comfort books to my whole generation). Their a comfort of my childhood and when things weren’t good but found a relief in it. Also, your books have become a HUGE comfort when my depression/anxiety are at their worst because they just scream at me I’m not alone and let’s go get starbucks and be weirdos together (I just sent a copy of Furiously Happy to my friend in hope it’ll help her too).
Every avid reader would have a few comfort books that they could list. The books that will never leave their shelves. Maybe even never lend out to anyone. Knowing they have them and can go back to them for a moment of peaceful solitude. I have found the Woody Allen short story collections (in particular Without Feathers), to be among my favourites.
Like comfort books, I have comfort articles. Things that have been bookmarked in my browser for well over a decade and will still reference. Stuff in the few magazines I have around with post-it notes hanging out of them like shredded bookmarks. When I think more about it, the tweets that I like on Twitter are a list of comfort tweets.
Words can wisely be a tremendous source of comfort. Have a nice day and upcoming week.
Oh, I should also mention that anything by Stephen King is a comfort book. Especially The Stand. Yes, I find the idea of the human race being wiped out by a super virus comforting.
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, too, but The Hobbit gets reread more)
Any and all of The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (especially when I’m feeling particularly down, it helps reading these. Reminds me I’m not alone. <3 )
And all of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School, and Custard Protocol novels (I’ve read and reread them, and I’m on pins and needles for the next Custard Protocol book. They’re wonderful for a bit of steampunk escapism. <3 )
This is my list! I read a ton, and have lots of favorites (it’s hard to pick just one), but these are the ones I seem to come back to when I really just need some comfort.
No, I have a few myself. Reading gives me an escape into another world for a little while. My comfort books include the Harry Potter series, Violin by Anne Rice, Eat, Pray, Love, and Pride and Prejudice. An interesting assortment, and I think I’m missing a couple, but thats the gist of it.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” and the Potter series. Totally a thing.
It’s not just you. For me, it’s The Secret Garden, The Color of Water, Sarum. and On the Banks of Plum Creek. Do ancient magazines count? If so, there’s a few issues of the Readers Digest from the mid 1980s still at my folks’ cottage that I happily ready every year.
Anything Jane Austen, A Little Princess, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking (Laurie Colwin), my favorite James Thurber story that always makes me laugh, “The Night the Bed Fell.”
All of Jane Austen but especially Pride and Prejudice. The Harry Potter series. A Wrinkle in Time. A Tale of Two Cities.
You bet there are: His Dark Materials; The Egg and I; Our Hearts Were Young and Gay; We have always lived in the Castle; Praisesong for the Widow; I Capture the Castle. And anything by Fannie Flagg.
Not just you! My comfort reads vary in content because of who I am but I have Tolkein (just all of Tolkein), Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Any of the short story collections by Neil Gaiman, Both LPTNH and Furiously Happy, Hyperbole and a Half, and Oathblood and Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey.
I think they’re my comfort reads because they brought me enjoyment when I was in a dark place so they often bring me comfort now. Also thinking about it all of those books also are a moment of connection and bonding between me and someone I love. They introduced me to the book or author or bought me my first copy of it. Or we simply discovered them at the same time and raves about them to each other. It’s funny how that works.
I’ll echo people above and say anything by Jane Austen or the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. In fact, the only books I read during the calendar year of my divorce were Nero Wolfe novels and collections. I didn’t stop until I had re-read the entire series in chronological order.
I agree with you on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Also the entire Harry Potter series, Bonfire of the Vanities, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, The Great Gatsby, Gone With the Wind, most of David Sedaris’s books, books from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and I’ll think of more later.
The whole Outlander Series and he Harry Potter series.
It’s totally a thing. When I’m feeling crazy, I turn to authors who are as crazy as I am. Fun fact: I’ve read Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened about 20 times each. Other comfort books: Yes, Please!, Little Women, and basically any true crime novel because those people are totally crazier than I am, and when I’m in a bad place, it’s good to be convinced that I’ll at least never be THAT bad.
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Fall on Your Knees
The Great Gatsby
These are the books I find myself picking up without a thought, and reading a hundred pages of while sitting in the middle of my staircase. My husband or son will usually find me and ask what I’m doing. And I never realize how long I’ve been reading. They are perfect escapes.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera) is totally my confort book. I have been reading this book for years now!
Comfort books are SO a thing. For me, it’s usually a book where I remember having a revelation, or one that was so compelling I read it in one day. Former: Saint Maybe, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Latter: Fermat’s Enigma, Bringing Down the House.
A Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson. Science calms me, bro.
I can believe you have geek love on your list. I read it like a million years ago and thought I was the only one. Cra-zeeeeee
I have had many over the years. But my most recent is the Harry Potter series. I LOVE listening tithe audio books. The narrator pulls you in to the story and characters and you can just get lost in them.
Er – I can NOT believe…
Maybe weirder than you, but it’s my own journals & diaries that are my comfort books. Re-reading stuff I wrote down weeks/months ago makes me realize damn, I HAVE done worthwhile, cool things on occasion.
It’s totally a thing of course! Mine are the Outlander series, Harry Potter series and Stephen King.
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective novels. I only picked up my first — The ABC Murders — a couple of years ago, but I’ve been binging on them ever since. I don’t even care about trying to figure them out. I just like the way she lays things out, with no extraneous anything. Fun, easy reads.
The Haunting of Hill House… A dark book, but the writing is so dreamy, you forget you’re reading horror. Also, the Thirteenth Tale.
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It’s a great story, a history lesson, fuel for philosophical musings, and a damn good story.
My comfort books are Bridget Jones ones. Just re-read them again – a few years’ break did wonders.
Also, um, your books. 🙂
Er – I can NOT believe…
Pretty much anything by Terry Pratchett, really.
My comfort books range from Harry Potter to a fantasy/alternate history young adult with a flying whale airship, to Stephen King’s 11-22-63 to The Silence of the Lambs. comfort books exist.
Melinda Haynes “Chalktown”. Also any short story collection by Annie Proulx. I just finished the last book in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series and I would totally read the whole thing again.
“Matilda” by Roald Dahl and “Stone Words” by Pam Conrad were my go-to comfort reads as a child. In my twenties, it was the Harry Potter series. In my thirties, it is almost all comedic romance novels by writers like Penny Reid and Jennifer Crusie, and short story collections by Neil Gaiman.
Shogun. the Litte House boxed set by Laura ingalls wilder. The Stand by Stephen King. the Belariad and Malloreon series by David Eddings. any of the many “omg a real ghost/haunted place” books I have.. absolutely there are books that comfort us over and over again!
There are certain series that are like emotional meatloaf. Like book brownies with hot fudge. The Anne of Green Gables series, all the way through to Anne of Ingleside. Also the David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorian series. Little Woman and Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Once I start, I must, must go all the way through.
I’m pretty sure I have comfort books but obviously right now I can’t remember any of them (it’s the same if you asked me for favorite something – I’m sure to run a blank)… But when I feel bad I tend to rewatch Mononoke animated series which is straight-up creepy horror…
Actually I tend to go back every couple of years to Riddlemaster Trilogy. It’s got some upsetting turns of events and for some reason is very soothing for me – and is weird because some time after I finish it I tend to forget most of it so each time I read it it’s a very fresh experience.
Also my comfort music tends to be weird, creepy things.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Anita Blake books…
The Little Prince
….and probably like 6 more but I can’t brain cause finals.
PG Wodehouse. Agatha Christie. Dick Francis. Trixie Belden when I’m feeling particularly nostalgic.
I think every avid reader has at least one comfort book. Mine is Beginner’s Luck by Laura Pedersen. How can you not get comfort from a book with a recovering alcoholic monkey in it?
Harry Potter, anything by Douglas Adams, PJ O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell or Parliament of Whores, Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time books – essentially everything in all five of the bookcases in my bedroom. Comfort books are definitely a thing!
For me it’s the Little House on the Prairie series, the Outlander series, and Anne of Green Gables. No matter where I am or what’s going on in my real life, I can open one of these books up and spend some time with wonderful old friends.
umm, I can’t leave a list yet because I am still in shock that Victor doesn’t have comfort books. Can we send him some?
It – Stephen King; Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore; The Silver Crown, Robert C. O’Brien. And others. You are definitely not alone in finding comfort books.
Harry Potter, all of Tamora Pierce’s books but especially the Song of the Lioness series. The characters are like old friends and every time I read their stories it’s like getting to visit with them again for a while. Comfort reading is a very real and important thing for me ❤️
Not weird at all! Return to my favorites. Belgariad, Dragonriders of pern, Hitchhiker’s Guide, and some recent favs of Black dagger brotherhood.
Actually, both of your books (I’ve had some terrible bouts with anxiety lately, and Furiously Happy has been so comforting.) Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter series and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
The complete Harry Potter series and a wonderful old trilogy by Mary Stewart about Merlin.
My comfort books are Frog and are Friends, A Wind in the Willows, & the Wrinkle in Time series. It’s totally a thing. I also turn to funny-poignant books like Let’s Pretend this Never Happened.
Of course! Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” is my go-to. Because post apocalyptic vampires and magic are so soothing.
Comfort books are totally a thing. I have read The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth ridiculous amounts of times. Also, even though I have nearly zero interest in fashion, I find The Devil Wears Prada quite soothing.
Mine seems to be any of the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey, and also the Dresden files series by Jim Butcher. Sometimes I’ll want to read some horrible paranormal smut books like the Anita Blake series. It really depends on the type of mood, and what set it off.
It’s the Outlander series for me. Because time travel, strong female lead, kilts, and lots of really good sex.
Lincoln’s Dreams and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Also her short stories Spice Pogrom and Time Out. I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Anything by Terry Pratchett, but especially Good Omens and Hogfather. The Hitchhiker’s Guide series.
Anne of Green Gables
Howl’s Moving Castle (or anything, really, by Diana Wynne Jones)
Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, or Ngaio Marsh mysteries
Lost Cat by Tad Hardy (sadly now out of print)
comfort books are a thing… Now weird ones? Also a thing!! Haha
Harry Potter gets pretty dark in the later books and I always turn to those. The Book Thief is quite sad but the writing comforts me.
I think our minds just need to have a distraction, even if the distraction is a bit dark or twisted.
Weirdos!! Weirdos all of us! And we are awesome.
I do like reading but when it comes to comfort, I really like comfort food 😃
During a really bad depression when I lost all interest in reading (which had never happened to me before), it was Harry Potter that drug me out. It was the only thing I could read more than two sentences of without getting discouraged. A chapter a night, until I could finally focus on something else.
Also, I read Psalms when I can’t sleep. Kinda surprised no one else mentioned anything biblical.
I read an academic study a few months ago where the researchers found the reasons that re-reading books feels so comforting. I wish I could remember what it said/who published it.
That study, and this post make me feel like I’m not so weird after all. At least for this… 😛
Anything by SARK makes me feel better, less depressed, and hopeful about humanity. And The Princess Bride. And Harriet the Spy.
When I was doing community theater I had to read a few chapters of Harry Potter after I got home before my stage energy would settle down enough for me to sleep. I’ve read those books about eleventy million times since I was about 11 so now they’re the perfect combination of interesting enough to keep me reading but familiar enough that I don’t stay up til the butt crack of dawn because IHAVETOFINISHANDFINDOUTWHATHAPPENSSSSS
But other than that Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables, Johnny Tremain, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and the American Girl books (Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly) all do it for me.
Newest to my list of comfort books is The Royal We, which I’ve read 3 times now and just started for the 4th. SO GOOD!
Little Women, Spangle and Aztec by Gary Jennings, LOTR trilogy. I have more, but I have read some of these books at least once a year for as long as I can remember..
Totally not alone. I read a lot of books over and over, especially when I am out of sorts.
I read Anne Bishops” Black Jewels trilogy over and over.
Most of mine have death and murder in them too, though I’d never stopped to think about that before! Harry Potter, Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books, the Laurie R. King Mary Russel mysteries. Furiously Happy is on my list too. 🙂 Someone mentioned Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watching that for the zillionth time is also major comfort for me too. Somehow they become old friends – soul food.
All of Gene Stratton Porter’s books, especially “The Harvester”, they soothe me and give me hope. Neil Gaiman’s books always put my brain in a happy place. “Travels With Charlie” by Steinbeck. And when I’m having a strange mental spiral, a trashy romance is like chicken soup for manic episodes.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Yeah…don’t even want to think about what that says about me.
Comfort books are absolutely a thing. I re-bought the entire Discworld series on iPad, so I’ll have them with me wherever I go. Have since added LPTNH and Furiously Happy.
Oh, I have many “comfort” books – but when I look at them as a group, there’s definitely a (somewhat morbid, depressing) theme. I’ve read Jodi Piccoult’s “19 minutes” several times, as well as Lionel Shriver’s “We need to talk about Kevin”. And that’s just for starters…
Totally a thing, and my comfort books aren’t ones that people would say are all that comforting either, mine are things like Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, anything by Patricia Briggs, Jeanienne Frost Night Prince series, Nalini Sihgn’s Guild Hunter series (I do love her psy/changeling series but that is for good times), the Riley Jensen series. The Others, The Hollows.
Basically I like Urban Fantasy on the darker side. Maybe because it is because I like the winning even in darker times. The fact that though there are losses and sadness in the end good does get one foot forward. In my happier days I tend to lean more towards good Paranormal romance.
And I know my oldest daughter has her comfort book as Furiously Happy. When she packed for a about a year long stay at a psychiatrist residential facility it was the only book she packed. She loves to read but was all “they have a library there, I’m only taking the book I want to read all the time.”
All of Terry Pratchett’s, Neil Gaiman’s, and Douglas Adams’ books. The Time Quartet series (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, Many Waters, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) by Madeline L’Engle. All the Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sookie Stackhouse. All the 44 Scotland Street books by Alexander McCall Smith. Anything by P.D. James. All the Agatha Christie books, even though I’ve read them a million times. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. The Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock. And I could go on and on . . .
My favorite books are also my comfort books. Pride and Prejudice is like a warm hug. I read it all the time because it soothes me, and when I don’t have a lot of time, I watch the movie.
My newest comfort book is The Royal We by the Fug Girls, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I’ve only read it twice because my life has been insane since it came out, but I love it and, importantly, I can get completely immersed in it and forget my troubles.
I reread The Goblin Emperor , the Mercy Thompson books, the Alpha and Omega books, the Hane Yellowrock books, the witch books by Debora Geary, the Midnight Texas books, the Alera books and Witch World books. I reread lots of others but these are my comfort books. I find it amazing that I find time to read new books, but it’s not a problem really
That’s totally a thing ❤️❤️❤️
I have a library full of comfort books. I buy it hints I know I’ll re-read over and over again. My go-to is the Heralds of Baldemar series by Mercedes Lackey. Discovered it and her in middle school and have found its focus on inclusion and good something I turn to when I need to recalibrate.
Comforting like homemade macaroni and cheese, like summer tomatoes, like warm evenings on the porch:
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
A Short History of a Small Place (T.R. Pearson)
Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
The Woman Who Spilled Words All Over Herself (Rosemary Daniell)
95 Poems (e.e. cummings)
Anything at all by Anne Bishop. And the entire Wheel of Time Series. There are authors and books I might like better? But those 2 things always make me feel safe and comfortable. I’m happier to read about some of the Black Jewels characters lives than to hear about real people.
My favorite childhood books by James Herriot.
I’ve never met anyone else with comfort books. Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Douglas Adams, all the way.
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, and Good Omens.
Yes, comfort books are definitely a thing! A lot of the books mentioned in the comments are ones I also go to when I want something familiar and soothing. The Little House on the Prairie series, Little Women, Agatha Christie (any of hers!) and a lot, but not all of Stephen King.
I have probably reread The Once and Future King by TH White more than any other, except possibly The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone.
I just reread all the Harry Potter books and every few years will read the Lord of the Rings series.
Is it weird for you that your books are a comfort book for so many of us? My list also includes Sophie’s World and the HP series. And when I need to feel like a badass I go for the Black Widow graphics
Both of your books are comfort books for me. Particularly if I’m going through an especially nasty period of depression. “The Mists of Avalon,” “Good Omens,” “Neverwhere,” the entire Harry Potter series, “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Bad Science” are on that list too. I don’t understand why people DON’T have comfort books! 😀
This is something that I have always had, absolutely! I’ve read all of Terry Pratchett’s novels at least dozens of times, Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men On A Boat hundreds of times, Spike Milligan’s war autobiographies hundreds of times… I say hundreds, at ONE hundred each, year after year. I love food, but I am not a comfort eater. I’m a comfort reader, though. And a few glasses of Sauvignon blanch alongside said books is just wonderful. I re-read Small Gods (Pratchett) just a few days ago. It is some combination of regression to a safer, younger time, but also an opportunity to revisit the friends in those books – the characters become friends – and to often find new nuances that give a freshness to the reading. I’d wither and die if I didn’t do it!
Mine are the Harry Potter series and the Hatchet books by Gary Paulsen. I’ve read them all so many times, I could probably recite them from memory.
This is so a thing. Mine are “Weaveworld” by Clive Barker, “The World According to Garp” by John Irving, and an annual reading each of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and a compilation of Christmas mysteries that I love to read in the heat of summer.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It lifts me up every time and reminds me to be happy being me. Makes me smile just thinking about it right now.
I love reading books about writing. I will always pick up Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and Stephen King’s On Writing for comfort. Also Letters To A Young Poet. They remind me that my tribe is out there, even if they aren’t my family and friends.
Otherwise, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.
Mine would be the Otherland series by Tad Williams (I read these at least once a year), Dune by Frank Herbert, and most of the books by Mary Stewart. There are other books I read lots, but these are my definite comfort ones
OF COURSE comfort books are a thing!!! Here are a few of my non-comforting comfort books:
A Widow for One Year by John Irving
The Stand by Stephen King
All the Harry Potter books (esp 5-7)
Forever by Pete Hamill
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen
Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins
The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
My go to rereads are anything by Stephen King (Misery is my absolute favorite though) and every spring I reread Gone With The Wind and every winter I reread Little Women. No idea why but there it is.
Early Stephen King, especially The Dead Zone, The Shining, and The Stand.
Definitely a thing – my mum and I call them ‘chocolate books’ because they’re what you turn to when you want comfort and something easy to digest. For me, it’s the Anne of Green Gables series, Little House on the Prairie series, anything by Jane Austen and I’ve just rediscovered the comfort of Enid Blyton (making my way through all my childhood favourites).
White Oleander, Prince of Tides, Through the Glass Darkely, I know this much is True, To Dance with Kings, and In Cold Blood.
The 1st 3 Dune books.
Anything by Jennifer Crusie. Dick Francis. A British romantic comedy writer named Katie Fforde. Hell yes, it’s a thing.
I only have one comfort book… In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan.
I don’t think you’re insane-my main comfort book is It by Stephen King. 😊
I love Of Mice and Men! Anything John Steinbeck actually- he makes reading classics easier.. I also had a hard time with Wuthering Heights but I really loved it. And anything by Mitch Albom! Love his books.. 🙂
Laurie Colwin, Don’t Ask Me Why by Tania Kindersley, Shannon Olson, and the Agatha Raisin books by M.C. Beaton. As well as many, many YA books from my youth, especially the Anastasia series from Lois Lowry.
Absolutely! Like many others, LOTR, Harry Potter books and Jane Austen. But perhaps my favorite comfort book is the audio version of Gaiman’s Anansi Boys read by Lenny Henry. Even when Spider is staked to the ground with no tongue, I find it so very, very comforting.
I hope one day to feel whole enough, to love myself enough, to read for comfort.
“Comfort Books” is a perfect moniker for them! Mine are To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, the Harry Potter series, and the Flavia deLuce series.
I have comfort books too. I have re-read them dozens of times in all kinds of places. They are places and people I know and I want to visit them when life is scary or lonely or dreary or impossible. These books are my friends.
I think blood and mayhem of your books is beside the point. You’re just visiting friends. The plot isn’t that important anymore when you’ve read them so much – it’s the people and place.
All of Anne Lamotts books are my comfort
I re-read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened when I need to laugh/cry, again, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, because I’ve pictured every scene and character in my head, in blinding technicolour, The Ya-Ya Sisterhood trilogy because I simply love it, and The Book of Negroes because it’s sumptuous. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to start a new book so I turn to my old favourites. Is that strange, not having the energy to read a new book?
Some of my favorite comfort books: Lamb by Christopher Moore, anything by Terry Pratchett (except Small Gods), Good Omens by PTerry & Neil G, all of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evonavich, especially Plum Lovin’ because it’s adorable, and Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Little Brother, and Pirate Cinema.
Comfort books are 100% a thing. Personally: Charles Dickens, Charles Finch, and MFK Fisher.
David Eddings’ Belgariad & Mallorean Series. Because he has the best characters ever(!) who entertain me without expecting a damned thing from me. And now that you’ve got me thinking about it you’ll have to excuse me…..there’s a sorcerer I need to see about a road trip.
For me, the twilight books (Stephenie Meyer.. the host as well), and the tattoo fairies books (Melissa Marr)… these books aren’t, particularly, comforting, (especially ink exchange), but I find them engrossing enough to bury myself in. If the book does not involve enough danger/intrigue/beauty/magic/etc… it will not be interesting enough to distract my brain from the things that sometimes torment it, in the form of depression and anxiety. Comfort books don’t have to be “chicken soup for the soul,” types… What they have to be, is something that makes your focus change… Grabs your mind, and holds on tight, and keeps it from thinking about whatever is bothering you… And, often, to obtain a new comfort book, you don’t have to be in a bad place the first read.. You just have to remember it, when you do end up in that place again… Comfort books must be memorable.
ooo, Geek Love. That’s a good one. Also, any J.D. Robb books are good, full of interesting futuristic stuff as just “normal” day-to-day, but also murder and mayhem and detecting, plus sex! and hot main characters.
I’ve tried to explain to my family about comfort books and they don’t get it either, despite the fact that they re-watch the same shows and movies over and over again!
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files are always good to me. For stand alone books I keep going back to Where the Red Fern Grows, but I don’t know why since it makes me bawl every time.
Right now I’m re-reading Worm</a href> an online serial by Wildbow/J.McCrae. It’s crazy long and gets extremely dark and gruesome, so not my normal cup of tea, but the characters were so well done that I needed to know what happened to them.
“The Mists of Avalon,” Marion Zimmer-Bradley, “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” Lee Harper and “Dandelion Wine,” Ray Bradbury
Of course it’s a thing! When my daughter went off to college we made sure she had a supply of comfort books. Many of her classmates did as well.
You are not alone! My favorites are the Harry Potter books, The Hobbit, and Silence of the Lambs.
It changes, when I was a kid it was A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Wise Child, and a couple other books. Now it’s pretty much anything written by Jane Austin or Neil Gaiman.
I totally know what you mean. I have this book this little paperback book that I’ve had to tape up to preserve because I’ve read it so many times. Its called “Phone Call From A Ghost” its a bunch of crepy ghost stories. There are other books I’ve re-read but not like this one.
If comfort books weren’t a common thing, nobody would have beat-up books in their collections. As a reader, a life without my comfort books is inconceivable. It’s very similar to meeting up with old friends and talking about the past. Except without faulty memories.
Agree, comfort books are a thing. Mine are anything by Christopher Moore, particularly The Stupidest Angel and A Dirty Job (zombies and Death, respectively). Also, any Carl Hiaasen featuring the character Skink.
A Room with a View, Little Women and To Kill a Mockingbird. All well-worn in my library!
“The Number of the Beast” by Robert Heinlein. It was supposed to be an example of how NOT to write a science fiction novel, but I love it. Time travel, other dimensions, characters from other books, etc. I’ve worn out 2 copies of the trade paperback.
I have comfort books for sure, some (like World War Z) are odder than others, but they are mostly fluffy books, like the aforementioned Alice in Wonderland, and a couple of titles from the Redwall series (Redwall and Martin the Warrior specifically, tho I adore the whole series). I also love rereading Where the Red Fern Grows, The Illustrated Man and Slaughterhouse 5.
My read over and over comfort books is the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy!! Nothing like good comforting trashy books.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened & Furiously Happy, The Loop & Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God by Joe Coomer, Emma, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Anne McCaffrey Dragon Rider of Pern series, Wicked & Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, the Princess and the Goblin & the Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald, and Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund …and my Kindle because, let’s be honest, I can live without food and people but I can’t live without books.
Life’s too Short for Boring Art
I reread my collections of Agatha Christie, Horatio Hornblower, Harry Potter, Tom Clancy (except Sum of All Fears, too much personal anxiety), some of the Dune series, George Alec Effinger…
The Night Circus
Violet and Claire
A Prayer for Owen Meany
For me I have days where I want to do stuff & be entertained but my brain can’t handle new.
New concepts, thoughts,emotions.
Brain is too much a jangly mess to do anything but retreat to the warm, safe comfort of my little nest of a bed. I don’t want to sleep the pain away, and maybe I just want to hold the book as an excuse to think my own thoughts, but still look like I’m doing something…dozing & restarting the same page optimal. Something about that time helps reset my brain.
Add an open window & rain for optimal comfort book snuggles.
I honestly read and recommend your books for uplifting.
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. For a long time, anything by Terry Pratchett. Before that, anything by Robert Heinlein. All read to the point of memorization.
From the Dust Returned is one of the best books Ray Bradbury ever wrote (and that’s saying something). I read it again and again myself. My others are Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Jane Austen.
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck… I’ve read it 7 times. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes. I read it every winter. It’s warming. I also love her “Bella Tuscany” and “A Year in the World.” And any book by Bill Bryson, but A Shirt History of Nearly Everything was my first of his… Totally hooked me.
Absolutely not just you. Comfort books are like comfort anything else. They bring you peace and settle you when you need it. I’ve never really questioned the why of it;I just accept it and turn to it when I need it. Incidentally, “it” is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
So many good books in these comments, but for me it’s “The Book Thief “. Something about death narrating a beautiful story….
Totally a thing! The Anne of Green Gables books, Pride and Prejudice, and cookbooks with lots of pictures.
OUTLANDER! It’s the only book I’ve read more than once & I’m re-reading it again. Take me away from everything.
I honestly read and recommend your books for uplifting.
I have comfort books too actually. I never really put that name to them but that’s definitely what they are. For me my number one book (or actually series) is Harry Potter. It came out when I was 11 and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since and every time I read it, it takes me back to that same place of loving the book and being at peace. Definitely a thing! haha
So much “YES!” in this picture! Anytime I’m in a bad mood or feeling low, I’ll watch Dr Who reruns, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, or The Nightmare Before Christmas. I also like to reread Alice, and tend to lean more towards the macabre/weird/fucked-up kinds of books.
My sister passed away back in October. There was a week when I couldnt’t read anything, but then I picked up Harry Potter and made my way through the whole series again. Definitely comfort books. Those and Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, along with The Green Mile.
The Stand, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, and any of the original Nancy Drew books are my comfort books. They got me through my first month of college when I was incredibly, horribly homesick.
When I am too sick to get up I lay and listen to mostly Neil Gaiman books. American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere. I’ll read Good Omens – need to go see if anyone with a wonderful voice has done that one. Sometimes my husband comes home and finds me sleeping with American Gods still playing. It is wonderfully soothing.
Of course that’s a thing. Jane Austen — all of ’em.
OH YES. Comfort books are totally a thing. For me, it’s a mix of Terry Pratchett Discworld books, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Tin Tin comics, Asterix and Obelix, and The Sea Priestess.
Comfort books are TOTALLY a thing–my choice depends on my mood. I have lots of comfort books because I’ve had a number of years to find and re-read them . The earliest are my Black Stallion books by Walter Farley, the Lad books by Albert Payson Terhune and two obscure ones: Algonquin: A Dog and Gervase by Ann Moray–this strange, sad and magical story about a girl and a stag. As an adult, Pride & Prejudice, the JD Robb Eve Dallas books, and Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega books are my romance go-tos. And Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity books for a bit of romanticized England. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (though I’m even more likely to read it aloud to others who haven’t yet discovered the joy of Jenny’s humor–favorites are the roadkill puppet Stanley and the cow AI–it reminds me of my best friends whom I try and convince regularly to write up their own adventures–last trip home I decided to ride home from their farm with the hubby so we could catch up and he said you’ll have to sit in the back seat–there’s a deer head in the passenger seat. Don’t even let me get into the wife disposing of a dead rabid raccoon wearing trash bags over what she’d worn to the opera–I rather feel like Jenny’s family must be long lost cousins of theirs if not mine). Rita Mae Brown’s Jane Arnold fox hunting series (reminds me a bit of home and the descriptions of hunting are spot on–for those who don’t know foxhunters are WAY more protective of foxes than anything short of seeing would ever convince you). And poetry especially Brendan Kennelly (whose powerful books I searched out in Dublin after he and Bono reviewed each others work and strangely I met his daughter on that trip quite by happenstance–she was the friend of a friend) or Byron (my most treasured book of his was bought and first read at Newstead Abbey) and Homer (no connection there–even I’m not that old) and Viggo Mortensen whose poetry is incredible even if you don’t love him as Aragorn. Oh, and for sci-fi, Douglas Adams, Asimov’s Foundation, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations series and the novelizations of my favorite show ever–original series Battlestar Galactica–some of my paperbacks I’ve had since I was 10–the others came to me through the interwebs and I refuse to say what I paid for obscure used paperbacks. I think Neal Stephenson’s seveneves will make that list as the years go on as well despite it’s impressive length–that first sentence had me hooked from the moment I read it “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” Now you’ve made me want to drag them all out and read the lot again right now!
My go to books are The Giver, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and The Night Circus.
Victor is wrong. This is totally a thing. Mine are The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The English Patient and Pride and Prejudice. Also occasionally Love in the Time of Cholera. Oh and I was re-reading Harry Potter before my kids had read it even once. And finally, Mary Oliver’s poetry.
I like to sleep with my comfort books. But the only one I’ve read over and over is Delilah’s Mountain by Gloria Jahoda. I borrowed it from my junior high school library, which means I pretty much stole it. My comfort authors? Rosamunde Pilcher. Reading her books is akin to curling up in front of a crackling fire with a blankie and nice cup of tea. Also: Janet Evanovich for a good laugh.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. It’s something about second chances at happiness that soothes me. Also, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and anything by Virginia Woolf. Fairytales by brothers Grimm or HC Andersen. The real ones that my mother read to me when I was a kid… not the sugary sweet endings of Disney. I thought everyone has comfort books/TV shows/movies! Maybe people like me that struggle with depression do turn to them more often.
Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones. Read them, then start all over again… And I have a vast collection of children’s picture books and fiction which I cherish. Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken, and all her short stories… In the Suicide Mountains by John Gardner… Any picture book illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert… The Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg…. The White Deer by James Thurber and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle…. they are all magical and return me to a shinier state of being.
I totally believe in comfort books! They’re the ones you read over and over again because you feel safe in them and trust the ending.
Also, I read this a couple of weeks ago – some clinics in England suggest books as part of their Rx for patients in mental health. Very cool:
Comfort books are absolutely a thing. Victor is crazy. Mine are everything by David Endings, Tamora Pierce, Susan Cooper, and basically all the fanfic ever.
I have one that I stole from my friend many years ago, and I’ve read it so many times, it’s literally fallen apart. I bought another copy. It’s The Bride by Julie Garwood. I also go back to the Harry Potter books and Go Ask Alice.
I just finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and it is definitely making my reread list!
My ultimate comfort book is “…And Ladies of the Club,” by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It takes me to a different place, and I just find it soothing.
Pride and Prejudice is one.
Dear and Loathing in Las Vegas is another.
Comfort books are real, just like comfort food.
I absolutely have comfort books. I have read The Stand by Stephen King at least a hundred times. I go to it when the seasons change (probably something to do with seasonal mood stuff)… Also IT.. at least a hundred times. It is like a blanket that I lay over my regular life when it is too much… these characters and these stories… they are as familiar to me as my own family.
Absolutely. When things are bad, I re-read the Amelia Peabody stories by Elizabeth Peters, or the mysteries from the Golden Age of Mystery, like Sayers, Allingham, and Christie. When they are really bad, I reach for the horse and dog books of my youth, like the Dorothy Lyons stories, or Silver Chief: Dog of the North. Totally a thing. I can even gauge how bad things are by how recently I’ve reached for what. 🙂
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I find myself reaching for it on bad days, and even though it’s one of the most gut wrenching things I’ve ever read, I love it.
I also love reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire on my bad days, Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, and both The Lacuna and Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
+1 for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Plus Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, anything by Anne McCaffery, Calvin & Hobbes, and The Book of Job (if he could make it through, I can too.) http://io9.gizmodo.com/5931929/in-1987-a-young-fantasy-fan-ran-away-from-home-to-live-with-author-piers-anthony
Life with Mother Superior by Jane Trahey.
I totally have comfort books, different ones for different times of year. They’ve survived every purge of my bookshelves no matter how tattered or how well I know the story.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Lorna Landvik
Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes
Yep. Keep coming back to the Magic’s Pawn trilogy, Neverwhere and Alice in Wonderland
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahiuk, Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, Fear and Loathing in LV by HST, and Catcher in the Rye
Black Jewels series. Any time I’m feeling down, I pick up Daughter of the Blood and start from the beginning.
Skimming these comments is such a reinforcement of the commonality in this community. All of my comfort books have already been named (Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time…Outlander, which I have not yet reread, but will definitely be revisiting over and over, I suspect). Living in a series (mostly from my childhood) for the time it takes to reread is a touchstone for me, especially in times of grief. I love the idea that while I’m rereading there will be all of you out there, reading with me!
Too many books to name! I also have comfort audio-books – I like “The Cat Who” mystery series for road-trips – especially road-trips where I’m escaping something. They aren’t great literature by any stretch but going back to a familiar place is very comforting. I’ll be moving across country in another month – I hope I can get some on my iPad!
Both of your books are on my go to list! Also, there’s nothing like escaping to the wizarding world and all the Harry Potter books! My last series of go to books are by Ransom Riggs…Miss Perigrine’s Peculiar Children series, three awesome books! There’s kind of a theme here…I like books where the weird & unusual people, such as myself, are underdogs who rise up & embrace their weirdness to win!😂
I definitely have comfort books. I re-read your book, Furiously happy at least 4 times now because it pulls me out of my anxiety funks, Grrl Genious Guide to Life is another comfort book when I need to get out of a funk. But I also have comfort books when I feel like I need to cry and my own life issues are too intense to deal with, so I re-read Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver or Mama Day or Harry Potter and cry uncontrolled sobs at the death scenes and come out of the book world feeling refreshed.
Totally a thing. Mine are the Sandman Slim series, The Dresden Files, The Nightside series, Charlie Davidson books, along with Harry Potter, Hunger Games and guilty pleasure Twilight. I think that when I am in need of comfort, darker tales give me support where as “happy” stories make me feel worse because it highlights what is currently missing.
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, McKiernan’s MIthgar series, Christopher Moore’s Lamb and A Dirty Job. When I re-read any of these, I feel like I am meeting up with old familiar friends. Because I am naturally friends with vampires, witches, pixies, fairies, demons, death, elves, dwarves, warrows, shapeshifters, weres, and Jesus’ friend Biff.
Mine include: The Lark and The Wren by Mercedes Lackey; The Blue Sword/Hero & the Crown by Robin McKinley; Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett; the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carrier; the Gale family series by Tanya Huff; and Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey. Your first book is also beginning to work its way into rotation. I think I’ve read it three times so far. Most of my list are books I found in middle school. They just feel homey and comfortable. They’re like old friends. Victor is clearly not a reader.
To add to what I said earlier: I might only reread books I haven’t read in a long while but I tend to go back to Roald Dahl’s stories. I still need to purchase a copy of Furiously Happy but I have a feeling it’s a book I’ll be glad to revisit after having read it.
To Kill a Mockingbird. The book is falling apart. In fact, my sister bought me a new copy one year but I prefer to read the worn copy I’ve read since I was a kid.
I just read a few comments back after posting and remembered a half dozen other books that should also be on my list. You’re definitely my people.
When I’m crazy stressed, I read my favourite books from when I was a kid, L.M. Montgomery. They really do make me feel better! Also The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which I only read as an actual adult. So yes, comfort books are a real thing!! Mind you, I don’t have a TARDIS full of my favourite things, so that’s why I need books. Wow, books are the original TARDISes – they’re always bigger on the inside. Plus, reading it is kind of like time traveling…Hmmm…from now on whenever I’m reading I’m going to make people refer to me as ‘the Doctor’. Quietly.
For several years, I read the Harry Potter books over again before the newest one came out. Then, I would read them all, in order, each year. I also read the Emily series by L.M. Montgomery mutiple times, as well. I recently quit a book club because it didn’t leave enough time for me to do this.
Reading your post, and ALL these comments, has made my afternoon. Growing up, I read the Little House books over and over and over and couldn’t wait to go west myself. As an adult, I reread Gloria Naylor’s “Mama Day” during tough times. Also love Sookie, and going back to Hogwarts is perhaps most comforting of all.
Fall From Grace and Saving Grace by Christine Zolendez. I’m not proud of liking them. They’re not Anne of Green Gables or Once Upon a Winter’s Night. But I read them every winter when my SAD takes over and I feel all angsty.
This reminds me of a scene from a Seinfeld episode where Elsine wants one of her books back. He goes into a tirade: “What is this obsession people have with keeping books? Why fill your shelves with books you’ve already read? I say, you read it- get ride of it!”
Jerry obviously doesn’t believe in comfort books.
Practical Magic, Walk Two Moons, A Series of Unfortunate Events books, The Claidi Journals–and I’m realizing mostly they’re books for younger kids that I can easily consume in a few hours when I’m in desperate need of comfort. Probably because a lot of the YA or younger books are what I read to get me through a really difficult childhood. I return there as an adult to remember that it will be ok. Things will get better.
Love is a Wild Assault is a beautiful telling of a true story of a woman who was an early settler in Texas. It won several awards when it was written in the late 40’s. Her name was Harriet Potter and I can’t tell much about the story without giving too much away. It is one of the few books I’ve read several times. I love this thread. Lots of great suggestions here.
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman. The first time I read it it left me feeling very unsettled but after the second reading I was peaceful and hopeful and I can’t explain the change. I return to it at least once a year.
Omg, my spellcheck screwed me there. Obviously, I meant Elaine wanted her book back and I meant to type Get RID of it.
Also, A Prayer for Owen Meanie and just about every other John Irving book.
The World According to Garp, Clan of the Cave Bear, Good Omens, anything by Anne Rice.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and the rest of the series, anything by Stephen King but The Stand and Salems Lot are two favorites, anything by Nevada Barr.
Food memoirs like Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking or Calvin Trillin’s Tummy Trilogy, or in a pinch, most any cookbook compiled by church ladies. Funny women…like you, Cynthia Heimel, Hyperbole and a Half. The J.D.Robb In Death series. British children’s books like The Penderwicks or my All Time Favorite Go To Comfort Books – The Bagthorpe Saga by Helen Cresswell.
Almost any Stephen King book (Tommyknockers is dreadful and I refuse to read Pet Semetary), Fahrenheit 451, and The Grapes of Wrath. Says a lot about me!
Everyone write to Jerry and straighten him out:
There are books I read again and again: for comfort, for companionship and familiarity. I read Good Omens at least once a year, Tigana & The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy both by Guy Gavriel Kay at least once a year. The Deborah Harkness Discovery of Witches triliogy. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson – nothing like super dangerous scuba diving to identify a German submarine off the US Coast.
You’re not crazy — or not because of comfort books, anyway! I have lost many close relatives and miss them terribly. And so I reread the Harry Potter books, because he gets to see his lost loved ones in several of the books (OK, in book 1, 4 and 7). It comforts me. My husband thinks I’m nuts.
Little House on the Prairie series, over and over and over, and The Mermaids Singing by Lisa Carey, Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, The Deverry Cycle from Katharine Kerr, and Prospero’s Children by Jan Siegel. Also Memoirs of a Prarie Bitch from Alison Arngrim, This Time Together from Carol Burnett, Never Have your Dog Stuffed from Alan Alda. Oh, and the Book of Life trilogy from Deborah Harkness. And Harry Potter. And Here if you Need Me from Kate Braestrup,
I read comfort reads more than I read new things some years.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Every time.
The Harry Potter series, always.
For me, it will always be Harry Potter, the Outlander series, and anything byStephen King.
A prayer for Owen Meany, Tales of the City, Outlander, The Hunger Games. I like a good series, by book two I forget my world exists and I’m annoyed when someone reminds me that it does. Does that make me a bad person? Probably.
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books are like crack for me, can’t put them down, and if I’m feeling more whimsical, The Cat Who….series (murder, mayhem and cats-it’s all there).
The Southern Sisters murder series by Anne George–humor, southern comfort, sisters, and murder. I keep the entire set by my bed….
Rosamunde Pilcher’s “September” and “Winter Solstice.” For when I need the book equivalent of mac & cheese. Yes, Victor, Comfort Books are very very real.
A few years ago I moved, again, and I had a moment. I simply could not fathom boxing, lifting, stacking, and just moving all my stuff AGAIN. So I purged, hard, and gave away easily half an apartment of things, including 7 egg (huge) boxes of my books collected since childhood. 2 months later when I settled in my new place I was heartbroken. I’d lost almost all my friends, and 2.5 years later I still reach for books that aren’t there anymore. Yes, there are comfort books.
Also The Cat Who books are by Lilian Jackson Braun.
Complete Jane Austin, Josephine Tey.
My go-to books when I just can’t… are the David Eddings series. Generally I start with Sparhawk and then I read them all. J. D. Robb’s “in Death” series beginning after SPOILER Peabody makes detective, Ann McCaffrey’s “The Powers That Be”. The Anne Bishop “The Others” series.
Hmm, I’m seeing a lot of fantasy in there. Maybe because I read mystery for a living, I have to escape out of the ordinary? Dunno. But there you have it. Comfort reads are as important as comfort foods, never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Good Omens. My must-travel-with book is Richard E. Grant’s film diaries, With Nails. Hilarious and takes your mind off whatever conveyance you’re in. My must-rescue-from-a-burning-house book is Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. I keep wanting to list all the books mentioned in it, and read them too. Then I will have majored in English, or Classics.
I’ve reread Elizabeth Peter’s Jacqueline Kirby series (murder solving lubrarian) once a year for the pasy 25 years. Tanya Huff’s Smoke trilogy is also a yearly read.
Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Pulm series is for when I don’t want to think.
Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League, Dark Hunters or Chronicles of Nick) is for when I’m feeling like I’m standing on a ledge looking down.
The Night Circus!!!
It makes me feel things and I read it over and over and over!!!
I re-read “A Tree Grows in Brooklynn”, “The Moonflower Vine”, “Marjorie Morningstar” and “Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York:.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and The Maytrees by Annie Dillard are my comfort books.
Rachel Getting Married is my comfort movie.
Fight Club… No idea why.
I’m a crisis therapist, and in my biz we call it a coping strategy. I’m actually deep in a re-read binge right now.
Stephen King was always my go-to comfort read, but I wasn’t a re-reader until 34 days ago, when my dog had a pericardial effusion second to a sarcoma on his heart. The vet recommended euthanasia, but I wasn’t ready, so she recommended staying up with him overnight since she did not expect him to make it until the morning. After playing his new favorite game, “Scruff Gets to Eat Whatever He Wants,” he fell asleep. Feeling lost, heartbroken, and scared, I searched the digital library for an audiobook to distract myself from waiting. I saw Nightmares & Dreamscapes. I had read it the first time in the 4th or 5th grade and have been hooked on SK since. I checked it out. I listened and watched Scruff breathe.
Scruff rallied a little the next day, and a little more the next, and rallied so much the next day I called the vet to make sure they didn’t make a mistake. They didn’t–he’s still got heart cancer, he’s still dying, but since the effusion abated his quality of life is generally good, and will be until another effusion, or a cardiac arrest, with a prognosis of “any time now” to 6 weeks from the first effusion. Meanwhile, I’ve re-listened to or re-read The Shining, The Stand, Night Shift, Everything’s Eventual, and have just started The Regulators. I don’t think my partner, my family, or my coworkers get it, but they support it, and me. I guess we all figure, as binges go, it’s safer than most of the alternatives.
And now I feel bad because I totally didn’t mention Morris West’s “The Clowns of God” which I re-read every year and always get something new out of it. But I re-read it last month so it’s out of my awareness for the moment. But there you go, I think it’s amazing and brilliant.
I read The Stand when I’m sick. It comforts me.
Neverwhere, anything by Douglas Adams, any of the Harry Potter books. Sometimes you just need something familiar to make you feel sane.
Yup, I totally have comfort books I return to. Mostly Franny and Zooey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J. D. Salinger. I have no idea why I find these books comforting, but I always return to them when I can’t get my head together enough to do anything else.
Any of the Tamora Pierce books set in the Tortall universe. Also “Tam Lin” by Pamela Dean. I read that one about once a year. The Pierce books depend on the mood I am in.
Also, I work in libraries and Victor is not alone. There are a lot of people who are surprised at the idea of someone repeat reading the same book. I think they get confused at the idea that with more books than anyone could read in a life time out there, why someone would spend the time re-reading something multiple times. They are missing the comforting friends aspect of books I guess?
The Harry Potter series… I didn’t understand at first why I would read it over and over again… but then I realized it was that I identified with the characters on a visceral level over things like bullying and trying to figure out where I fit in the world.
Glad I’m not the only one who has Agatha Christie as comfort books. Plus YA books from kidhood. And anything from Tanya Huff except the Blood books.
I have a huge selection of comfort books. “The King’s Fool” by Margaret Campbell Barnes, “The Persian Boy” by Mary Renault, all of Spike Milligan’s war memoirs, “Watership Down”, “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. All books that are more than books – they are friends.
Comfort books are amazing. The School of Essential Ingredients is mine.
Yes! And I totally re-read the Sookie Stackhouse books as well as the Anne of Green Gables series in the background just as my “I’ve had a bad day, I’m going to go somewhere familiar now” bases.
Mine’s ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I read it every year when it starts to feel like Fall and I know that 6,000 miles away my mom is doing the same…
I read Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael books to sort of reset myself back to what’s really important, and, now that I have them both, your books.
I read your books to pull me out of a hole. I read the Harry Potter books over and over to escape and the outlander series to escape as well.
Enders game, Jacob have I loved, Matilda, the giver. I suspect ready player one and the selection series will be on there too, but I just barely found them.
The Stand, by Stephen King.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
And for audiobooks, it’s hands down “The Testament” by John Grisham.
I have to re-buy a lot of my comfort books, soon. I wasn’t able to save all of them when our place flooded back in October. But some of my babies (yes, my books are as much my babies as my children are) were rescued, because my fiance is amazing and knew how much my heart would hurt without my books.
So many comfort books. I thought I was the only one!
The Blue Castle, LM Montgomery is mine. I now have three copies.
My husband’s go to comfort books are the Heinlein juveniles.
I’ve read Furiously Happy twice, and listen to it on audio in the car. I fast forward past the Mature parts of Let’s Pretend this Never Happened when my daughters are in the car! They always say, Mom she could be your friend.
OMG, Yes! I didn’t realize other people re-read books like I do. My go-to’s are The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe, The Chrysalids, and The Harry Potter series. They definitely all remind me of happy times in my life and bring those positive feelings back.
I don’t actually reread books, because I am friends with so many voracious readers with excellent taste that my ‘to read’ list is longer than my life expectancy already, but my comfort books are the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown. They are all murder mysteries and the town they take place in is full of drama and heartbreak and skeletons, but the characters all know each other and care for one another and so the series just feel homey. I’m so lucky that there were more than a dozen of them by the time I discovered the series.
My #1 go to is the Yotsuba&! line of manga books. They are playful and sincere stories of a young girl exploring and learning about the world. The expressions of the characters and the simple tales are meshed together in just the right way to help pull me away from whatever may be dragging me down, be it my mind or external influences.
My go to books are The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, Jenny Lawson’s books, Heinlein, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher.
Absolutely on comfort books! I even have a history book or two that I read over and over again…
The Sam Vimes books and the Death books by Sir Terry Pratchett, and Sunshine by Robin McKinley… My husband just doesn’t get it. He figures that if you know what happens in the end, what’s the point of reading it? I have yet to get him to understand that sometimes it’s not the destination, it’s the journey along with friends that matters.
Why are re-readers and re-watchers partnered with the one and done? Ursula K. LeGuin and Roger Zelazny never get old. “But you know how they end” says my wife. Maybe I take comfort in that. And maybe I hope to absorb some of the insight and imagination of the creators. Anyway, I know how chicken fried steak ends, but I still eat it any chance I get.
This is absolutely a thing–for me, it’s always been mysteries (Rex Stout and Ngaio Marsh in particular–before I started listening to podcasts to wind down my brain at night, I read those series over and over again, a few chapters a night). It has little if anything to do with the content of the books, and everything to do with feeling comfortable and welcome in the worlds they describe. And it has to be a book I’ve read before–a new book is too engaging to be soothing in that particular way.
Absolutely yes to comfort books! I will reread some favorite non-fiction historical books in addition to a whole bunch of non-fiction and fantasy, as well as some childhood favorites and picture books…
Sure thing. Mine are either funny (yours, David Sedaris) or sweet stories where the girl gets the guy in the end. Which leads me to comfort movies/TV. I’ve considered Gilmore Girls to be my emotional pacifier when going through rough waters. And sometimes a girl just needs a little Mr. Darcy to brighten her day.
I re-read Hogfather and Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett over and over as comfort books. I also have the audio versions. I do re-read my favorite book over and over as comfort Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger (sometimes I’ll just thumb through and read all my underlined quotes that I love or super relate to, and there are a ton in the Seymour: An Introduction half of the book). I also re-read Mrs. Dalloway and To the Light House by Virginia Woolf as comfort. Which are sort of super heavy, but if I have a day I need to just read those books are perfect because the way they are written there isn’t always a good place to just stop. And each time you walk away with something new despite the familiarity of the story. I think , both of your surmises are correct though about why certain books are comforting. It’s a familiar world, with familiar characters, and sometimes those characters are in worse situations than you are which helps give things added perspective.
anything by Stephen King or Terry Pratchett
I definitely get this. My two are Pride and Prejudice and The Neverending Story. I think it’s because these two completely transport me away from my worries. I know the characters soooo well and it eases my soul.
I’m reading my comfort book right now. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s called Furiously Happy.
Obviously, comfort books are real. I love how many of us share the same lists, and how many I read that I went, “Oh yes, that one too!”
For me, anything by Jim Butcher (but especially Dead Beat), anything by Terry Pratchett, Good Omens by Terry and Neil Gaiman, the Prydain Chronicles (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, et al.) by Lloyd Alexander, anything by Douglas Adams, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’engle, and all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rawling.
Also, can someone more anal than me go through and put all of these titles in a list so I can take it to the bookstore?
I think you, Ms. Bloggess, should create a list for everyone of all these great reads! 😀 Anyway, mine are:
The Hopes of Snakes
Green is the New Red
The History of Love
Just to name a few.
It’s not insane. What’s insane is not having comfort books. Weirdos … 🙂
Neil Gaiman’s books. I feel like these people are all old friends, even though I only discovered them a few years ago.
Diary of a Provincial Lady series ( a 1930s married version of Bridget Jones), L.M Montgomery short stories, plus The Blue Castle, Jane Austen, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s adult books. I don’t go to blood and gore for comfort books. My husband doesn’t know how I can re-read fiction but it’s what I do.
I always go back to The Stand. Captain Tripps is oddly soothing, I guess, in terms of “well I guess it isn’t THAT bad.”
Stephen King’s IT, Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schomperlen
I don’t necessarily have comfort books, although, while my son with in the midst of his heroin addiction, I read 50 Shades of Grey over and over; all 3 of them!
The “strangers in paradise” graphic novel series
Mists of Avalon
My entire Rita Mae brown collection
The “dark tower” series by Stephen king
My Anne rice collection
“The dog who spoke with gods” by Diane jessup
And I’m sure others I have missed. Victor is the weird one for not having comfort books. I have had most of my books through multiple relationships, and they have never let me down. I have comfort music as well!!
I highly recommend “What on Earth Have I Done” by Robert Fulghum, or ANYTHING Terry Pratchett ever wrote.
The Chronicles of Narnia, and yes I do hope to someday open a wardrobe and find myself there.
It is definitely a thing. Mine are:I never promised you a rose garden, dry, running with scissors, pope of Greenwich village,lord of the rings, all agatha christies
Oh…. Geek Love. I totally get it. Thank you. 🙂
Dorthy Parker, her poems, short stories, essays. Robert Parker “Spenser” books and Stephanie Plum books. When I feel dead inside I read “the Death Bird” or “Paingod and other Delusions” by Harlan Ellison. I like to see so many other choices by the followers here that find comfort in the printed page.
Yep. Anything by Maeve Binchy, but especially Firefly Summer and Light A Penny Candle. Also anything by Rosemund Pilcher, particularly The Shell Seekers, Coming Home, and September. They are like wrapping myself in an eiderdown and having a lovely cup of tea.
Also Harry Potter, From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweller, and A Wrinkle In Time.
Comfort books are totally a thing. Mine aren’t comforting in the usual sense, but I love to retread American Gods and Neverwhere!
Totally a thing. Mine have grown over the years. Harry Potter. Earth’s Children series by Jean M Auel. Stephen King, Dean Koontz. and weirdly, Johanna Lindsey, I have and read a few over and over, and just love the characters. Also VC Andrews. But mostly just the ones she actually wrote.
Victor is wrong, you knew that!
I am surprised so many others said “The Stand” by King. I just bought the extended version in hard cover because when I went looking for it I realized I had borrowed it from the library, the original version is not good enough. I love Dune by Frank Herbert, unfortunately I’ve read it so many times even I can’t suspend my memory long enough to read it again right now. Maybe next year.
Movies can be like this too. Since Cloud Atlas came out I’ve probably turned that on at least 40 times so I can fall asleep. Makes no sense because I normally hate the TV on at bedtime AND I have been unable to finish reading the actual book. There is something about it that relaxes my anxiety. “Truth is singular. Its versions are mistruths.”
No worries–they’re definitely a thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’
Comfort books are absolutely a thing! Mine include Anna Karenina and Lisey’s Story (Stephen King). Also the MaddAdam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Are all comfort books weird, random choices?! I’m thinking so.
Through the Looking Glass, Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, Like Water for Chocolate, Daughter of Fortune (i.e. Fantasy, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction) – I like to be transported elsewhere and occupy my imagination.
“The Shell Seekers”, Rosamunde Pilcher, my all time fav..and Hemingway..
Naw, you’re definitely not the only one. 🙂 My comfort books are amongst my favorite books, actually. I am not sure what this says about me, but I like the Glass family kids in Salinger’s books, so, I’ve re-read Franny & Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeams and Carpenters and Seymour, an Introduction, Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories. I also like to re-read Confederacy of Dunces. My favorite comfort movie is Harold and Maude.
Sometimes I think Victor says these things just to see what kind of a reaction he gets. Comfort books are so totally a thing. My list, not exhaustive but rather off the top of my head: A Ring of Endless Light, Holly Black’s Modern Faeries trilogy, pretty much anything by Nora Roberts.
Comfort books are a necessity: Pride & Prejudice, Neverwhere, Sunshine (Robin McKinley), and Soulless are long time comfort books. More recent additions are Cruel Beauty, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the manga series Happy Marriage.
When I’m really struggling with depression I read horror. One summer I read nothing but Stephen King because his books made me scared of something outside myself. It was the only thing that let me escape.
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read Geek Love too, but once was enough for me 😉
Definitely not just you! I reread The Hobbit, Master and Commander, Neverwhere, and The Name of the Wind whenever I get a bit down.
This may sound cheesy, but your books are my comfort books. I have them on my nightstand all the time for emergency reading. your musings and Alli Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half’s artistry have calmed my anxiety more times that I can count.
Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for helping me realize I am not alone in this. Thank you for being you. Thank you.
Absolutely not the only one. Mine are A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and any of the Harry Potter series.
Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series. They’re just so…pleasant.
Yes! There is even a name for it- bibliotherapy. It’s a real thing.
Alice, definitely Alice.
My go to books are the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. The take me to a place where everything is possible.
I have approximately 1 bazillion comfort books. They include John Steinbeck, Anne Tyler, Cheryl Strayed, Frank McCourt, Alice Hoffman, and Beverly Cleary. Yes, I am a 55-year-old grandmother, and I sometimes reread the Ramona books my daughters and I loved and love.
Any of the Flavia deLuce series by Alan Bradley. And I’m not a big re-reader of books, but these work for me every time.
Also, you turned me onto From the Dust Returned, and I LOVED that book. I read it with a flashlight under the covers next to my sleeping 9 month old.
Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy collection, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. Treasure Island. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Hmmm, all my “comfort books” are about adventure and escaping the average life.
“Cats eye ” by Margaret Atwood. This book and many more by Margaret Atwood brought me through a terrible year.
I not only have comfort reads, I have comfort listens. (For those times when I really need a comfort read but IRL requires me to be up and about Doing Stuff And Acting Responsible.) And the point of the comfort listen is not to sit back and enjoy the narration, but to get words into my brain so they’ll replace the sadness or anxiety or stress—whatever it is that’s causing me to need comfort—with stories. So I pick out my comfort listen (Nora Roberts usually works for me, I especially like THE SEARCH—all that dog training is wonderfully soothing), crank my Audible app to 3x the normal speed, and after a while the words will soothe me and I will pay attention to the story for itself, not just as a distraction.
Series are good for this, just listening to one after the other in a predetermined order that doesn’t require me to make decisions. And they have to be familiar books/listens. It’s a total waste of a new-to-me great book to read/listen in a daze.
I get it, baby.
My “hot fudge sundae” author is Elizabeth Berg.
I ‘ve read her books over and over again & they just make
me feel REAL GOOD.
…like chocolate does.
I’ve read PULL OF THE MOON 5 times already. I’m like, THAT’S MEEEEEEEEEEE- or at least, that’s what I’d like to do sometimes.
xx from MN
OF COURSE comfort books are a thing.
If I’m under the weather physically but emotionally still OK I reread Carl Hiaasen. When I’m emotionally fragile or the world seems too full of cruelty I read my Georgette Heyer Regency romance novels. I own 21 of them and I’ve read them at least 10 times each
Yes, my comfort reads are very dark. However, most of them are also children’s books, so maybe, for me, it’s the combination of the characters going through horrible un-sugar-coated crap and no assurance of anything getting better along with everything eventually turning out alright in the end. I think those are often the best stories because, no matter how fantastic and out of this world they may be, they’re (mostly) true to life and give a sense of hope.
my copy of The Exorcist is more tape than book at this point, but it solidly the most comfortable book I own.
Like Water for Chocolate!
Depending on the situation, C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen (clone-slavery dystopia with rape of a viewpoint character!), Diane Duane’s Spock’s World (would you like some civil war with that bad breakup?), Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series (how to ethically battle evil in your spare time).
Comfort books are absolutely a thing! My biggest comfort book is one I read for the first time close to 20 years ago called Sabriel by Garth Nix. I’m definitely no longer the target audience, but it still makes me feel safe every time I read it.
I have comfort movies like Smokey and the Bandit and The Blues Brothers or anything by Mel Brooks. The first two I guess point to my love of crashing cars.
The Lioness Rampant Trilogy by Tamora Pierce
The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass
The Elenium and Tamuli trilogies by David & Leigh Eddings
Guards! Guards! & Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett
Comfort books absolutely are a thing. Mine are all the YA books of my youth: William Sleator’s House of Stairs, L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light and A Wrinkle in Time, Norma Fox Mazer’s Saturday the Twelfth of October, Julia Cunningham’s Dear Rat. Sometime in my 30s I finally stopped compulsively re-reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, but that one was on the list up to then, as were my old Nancy Drews. Ooo, The Hobbit. Definitely a comfort book that I’ve read again and again.
The Stand by Stephen King. I just open it and read the parts I like. But thanks for reminding me about Sookie… I need something to read before bed to clear my mind and Sookie is the perfect answer.
I’ve re-read Watership Down so many times now that I could probably recite it in my head if I needed to…. and I’ll still curl up with the book where bunnies fight to their bloody end and tell stories about their angel of death, over and over again. (There are more on the list, but I’ve found that I can become instant friends with other people who share my love of that particular book; we’ve got some common wiring, I suspect)
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and Walking on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock.
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and Walking on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock.
My comfort book is The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot. hangs head in shame It’s as fluffy as a baby sheep eating cotton candy. I am a literature teacher, so I feel like I should have a more intelligent book for this category… but dang it – SOMETIMES I NEED LIFE TO FEEL FLUFFY.
Lamb, Harry Potter(s), The lord of the Rings, Happiness at home, A wrinkle in time, Any book I’ve read that’s not overly demanding, interesting, easy to get lost in. There are probably a few more but I’m thinking about them now and I want to go get lost in one. When I’m having a hard time, it’s hard to start a new book. I think it’s the pattern I’m addicted to – the rhythm of the thing that connect me to an inner rhythm that stops all of the external noise. I love that stuff.
I always love the Winnie the Pooh and the Poems of AA Milne. I know that sounds probably sooo sweet. But My mom always read them to me when I was sick and even now they take me away. Like the poem about Bad King John and all he wanted was a red, india rubber ball. The pictures in my book are special too. Also, when life is kinda crappy for whatever reason, I do love reading mysteries- no one in particular but I think I enjoy that they are ususally kind of easy reading but they keep you focussed on “Who did it?” It’s nice to read a book with a solution when it seems like life doesn’t always offer one…..
My comfort books are all books I loved when I was a kid. I have no idea why.
I’m currently reading Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland and he talks about something called Biofeedback Loops and how when you read a book the plot triangle is like a controlled version of the stress loop so when you reach the end your body shoots out endorphins and you really do feel better.
I found it enlightening, especially considering my comfort books
Valley of the Horses for when I feel lonely (shes alone for 3 years and preserves like a badass)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when I’m sad (Dumbledore, NO!)
and so on.
Hope it makes sense to you, but it could be just me.
Franny and Zooey. I watch comfort movies: 13 Going on 30, Miss Congeniality.
Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” is my comfort book. Classics, culture, and college kids committing murder.
laugh out loud comfort: Christopher Moore’s “Lamb,” “A Dirty Job,” and the trilogy “Bloodsucking Fiends, Bite Me & You Suck!” – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens!” – “The Phantom Tollbooth” Norton Juster – Dr. Seuss for amazing rhymes – and “The Princess Bride” William Goldman (duh, giants, 6-fingered man, fire swamps, sword fights, true love, ‘mostly’ dead!!!!’) …”No more rhymes now, I mean it.”……”Anybody want a peanut?”
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Secret Garden, Hogfather, A Little Princess, The Collins’ Book of Best-Loved Verse. These are my comfort books.
I have read many of Stephen King’s books more than once. My all time favorite over all other books is his “The Stand.” You talk about being weird, Jenny. I happen to find books about the end of the world comforting! I like zombie books and most dystopian novels. You are not alone in your strangeness!!
aside from your books which I read over and over when Im feeling down I definitely always need a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie.
The entire Harry Potter series. It’s my happy place. I’ve read them so many times and sometimes they’re the only thing I can focus on when everything else seems to be going to shit. Right now, I’m also turning to anything about zombies.
Most of mine have already been named (Lions of Al Rassan, the Outlander series, the Vorkosigan series). I just want to add Nick Harkaway (‘The Gone Away World’ and ‘Tiger Man’ especially) and Jennifer Crusie, because all her heroines have equally interesting girl buddies and a true love. I think the common denominator in the most recent edition of my comfort list is (aside from being fantasy/sci-fi escapism) that all these books have characters who find joy after grief/trauma/working out their shit. When I need comfort these days, that’s the kind of reassurance I want.
i don’t think i’ve ever read a book twice. netflix comforts me.
As a child, I read Heidi, Black Beauty, and a Cricket in Times Square over and over and over and over and over. Adult books, not so much.
I have loads of comfort books, some of them even holdovers from teen reading days. I have buckets of old books that were YA (before YA was ruined by sparkling vampires) and even though I crossed the 40 mark a while back, I still pull them out from time to time and read them in the bath.
The Stand is my comfort book. I read it religiously every summer and I’m on my 4th copy. The copies can’t be purchased new, they have to come from a used book store (so they smell right)
I know exactly what you mean. When I’m off kilter, I don’t want to risk my feelings on a new book. What if it ends badly?? So I reread my favorite urban fantasy books. Harry Dresden, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books (starting with Rosemary and Rue) sometimes Harry Potter.
I think the comforting part is that even if the books you reread have heartache or death, it’s that it’s like driving a road you’ve driven many times before. You know where the bumps and curves are, you can see them coming, and you know when you’re almost to the end.
Not trying to suck up, but I have read your books several times. They make me laugh and feel not alone when I am in he dark. Love rereading Harry Potter. And loved seeing others comfort books. Some I will re re-read, others will wadded to my to read list.
I always read ‘Alanna: The First Adventure’ by Tamora Pierce. I must have read this books thousand times but the main character is always so strong in the face of everything. It always helps me escape whatever is currently happening in my life x
“She’s come Undone” by Wally Lamb and “To Kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee. 🙂
I have to reread Jane Austin’s books. the other author I reread most years is Ian Banks. Sadly of course the number of books from both will never grow. My cousin the physiologist has a book out about working on Anxiety. He is a lovely man and maybe his book my be of help to someone here. My sister who is living with nasty anxiety thinks it is worth a read.
The Anita Blake series, especially Obsidian Butterfly. Also Preston and Child’s Agent Pendergast series.
Any Amy Tan, most Barbara Kingsolver, A Tree Grows in Broklynn, lots of StephennKing, The Secret Garden, and lots more. It is a thing. -Kathy M.
Love in the Time of Cholera.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of my comfort books, too!
The Alienist by Caleb Carr, The Stand and IT by Stephen King, Harry Potter, Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Lamb by Christopher Moore would round out my list.
I totally have comfort books. Mine are “Live Your Truth” by Kamal Ravikant and “Two Winters in a Tipi” by Mark Warren. I reread them at least once a year if not more. There are others but these are my standbys.
Furiously Happy, Jane Erye, Alice in Wonderland, School of Fear, any by Lori Foster or Jane Austen