Monday, 21 June 2010
Comfort reading follow up
I had an absolutely overwhelming response to the post I wrote about comfort reading this time last week, and there were so many comments that mentioned books which people turned to that I thought I would write a follow up and share them. Perhaps if you're feeling in need of comfort reading, then you might like to try one of someone else's ideas (although that may by implication take you out of the comfort zone...). I've had another week of feeling doped up and confused by some new medication that I've been taking, which has rendered me almost completely incapable of reading anything particularly literary, although I did manage Valerie Grove's Kaye Webb biography, because it was so very good. So much of my "reading" this week has comprised the perusal of recipe books, particularly cake decorating ones, and more Babysitters Club and Enid Blyton.
Children's literature was unsurprisingly mentioned frequently. Specific titles included The white horse by Elizabeth Gouge, The swish of the curtain by Pamela Brown, and specific authors such as Judy Blume and Roald Dahl and Louisa May Alcott. But more often series were mentioned - Anne of Green Gables, the Flambards books (KM Peyton), the Green Knowe books, Famous Five (and other Enid Blyton series), Sadlers Wells, Nancy Drew, the Little House on the Prairie books, and the Chalet School. Ann P made the important point in that series tend to be so comforting because one meets the characters again and again and so they seem like "old friends" even if the plot itself is new.
But some adult books were revealed; David, who inspired the original post, said that he didn't read much children's literature as a child and didn't become a literary addict until he was an adult, aimplying that he didn't have the same sense of nostalgia that those who read as much as children. He thus turns to the Alexander McCall Smith books. Crime is also the comfort of choice for Hannah, who says that she hasn't actually read any children's books since childhood, and likes Agatha Christie and murder mysteries when she needs to relax. Simon from Stuck in a book highlighted perhaps the most literary of all of the books mentioned - the Diaries of a Provincial Lady.
I suppose the most important thing for many of us with comfort reading is familiarity, and turning to a book that one has read several times before. As an adult I tend to reread books less than I did as a child, mainly because now I have a huge awareness of the numbers of books out there that I want to read, but also because the supply is greater - I can go to the library every day if I want and I can order books at whim from Amazon, rather than relying on the once-weekly excursion into town or birthday booktokens. So the books with which I am most familiar are those read as a child.
The picture by the way is of some perfect food to accompany comfort reading; chocolate, cake, toast, scones - anything carbohydratey would be perfect I'm sure.
I'm still indulging in lots of comfort reading as I'm currently taking some medication which is making me extremely dopey and unable to focus. So there may be some hiatus in replying to comments/visiting blogs. It's starting to wear off and I managed a Virago Modern Classic at the weekend but unfortunately I have to put the dose up again...