Guest Post: Getting comfortable

Winter weather. This year especially, it seems to be a good excuse (not that we really need one, but it’s nice to have) to stay inside and read. This is what led to the topic of today’s guest post, in which Ria over at Bibliotropic has kindly written about her favourite comfort reads. Check out her choices below the cut…

Curled up on the couch or in bed, snuggled under blankets, a hot mug of sweet tea within reach and a book in my hand, warm while the world outside my window is cold and snowy and generally not so pleasant to be out in. This is the time of year when creature comforts seem to take on a whole new meaning. Winter is new, the novelty of it all hasn’t quite worn off yet, and staying indoors during a snowstorm seems like a comfy thing rather than a restrictive thing.

And so at this time of year, I often turn to comfort reads, books that I’ve read and reread time and again, that keep me coming back to them and have such good associations built up over time that no matter how many times I read them, I’m always entertained.

Jo Walton’s Among Others. This book is just comfort food for the bibliophile, as the protagonist is an avid reader of sci-fi and speculative fiction. The story’s an interesting one, at first blush a contemporary coming-of-age story set in the 70s in the UK, but underneath there’s some fantastic and subtle magical realism, a young girl trying to get through normal life and school and romance while at the same time defending herself from her unhinged and power-hungry mother and avenging her murdered twin sister. This is a book that makes me want to do nothing so much as read yet more books, and I’ve read it multiple times since I got it a few years back and it never gets old.

Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage trilogy. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books, and The Last Herald-Mage novels were what introduced me to that world, to her writing, and were pretty much my gateway books into the world of fantasy and speculative fiction all those years ago. Lackey infuses the books with hope and idealism and creates the closest thing to a fantasy utopia that I can imagine, or at the very least a world that I would give my left arm to live in. Even though the trilogy ends on a very bittersweet note (read: it makes me cry every single freaking time), I still adore it, and turn to it quite often when I’m looking for a comfort read.

Rather odd for someone who tends to stick with speculative fiction, but Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books are ones that I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve read. The whole series. Usually once a year. For at least the past decade. I can recite entire passages from memory, even, and yet I will still pick up these books, starting with Little House in the Big Woods and ending with These Happy Golden Years, I will read them from cover to cover, and I will enjoy every moment.

And there’s a surprising amount that I’ve learned from the series, too. While it’s not exactly some great how-to guide for living in the middle of whoever, I can credit this series with teaching me some of the basics of cooking, inspiring handmade gifts, giving me the inspiration to learn to quilt, and I will swear blind that I’m capable of building a basic fish trap from wooden boards. The books may be filled with sanitized and romanticized ideas of a time and place that wasn’t nearly so attractive as the books make it all sound, but they are still fascinating glimpses into years gone by, and have been a great source of personal inspiration over the years.

So those are my comfort reads, the books I’ll read over and over and never get tired of, the books that get me through hard times and chase away some of the winter blahs. Now I want to know what some of your comfort reads are. Maybe I’ll end up with some new additions come next winter!

…You heard the woman, folks! I’m curious myself – do you read (or re-read) for comfort? And if so, what are your own go-to books? 

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Getting comfortable

  1. When I’m living somewhere that it’s super cold and snowy, I totally agree! I love staying inside with a book, hot tea, and comfortable warm clothes, reading my time away. Unfortunately I love somewhere with very schizo winter weather, with 20 degree drops and rises every few days, and usually isn’t below 45 mid-day. When I have time I actually like to go outside and enjoy it, since it’s so uncomfortably hot the rest of the year.

    Among Others sounds like something I should definitely check out. I don’t think I’ve read any books with protagonists who are sci-fi fans, so that will be fun! And I *adore* any magical realism.

    I don’t have any favorites that I re-read over and over. I usually wait several years in between re-reads, giving me time to forget lots of little details so it’s like discovering parts of it all over again.

  2. Oh yes I reread stuff over and over. Before blogging I would guess half of my reading each year was reread of old material. My go to books were Pratchett, so of which I guarantee I have read a dozen times. But every so often I would also go back to Pern, at least the first 8 books or so.

    My wife brought the complete Little House collection into our relationship, I expect to be reading them to my little boy in the near future.

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