Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Comfort Reading

Hi, Francesca Hawley, here. Sorry I'm a little late with my post today. But here we go...

We all know what comfort food is, right? Those snacks or meals that make us feel good. They evoke wonderful memories of parents and grandparents and being cared for. My comfort foods are things like mac & cheese, roast beef, cookies and other yummy stuff.

Well, in my experience, I’ve found there are reads that offer the same kind of comfort. Reads that you can slide into like a soft robe and comfortable slippers. My comfort reads feature a lot of variety. Fantasy, romance, science fiction – but usually genre fiction with a solid “happy” ending, or whatever passes for happy in a particular genre.

In my day job, I’m a librarian. Recently, we started a library book club and since I love genre fiction and I have to be enthusiastic about what I read, I chose to focus the book club on genre fiction reads. As I was prepping for suggestions for our second month reads in the fantasy genre, I went back to books I’d read a number of years ago. Comfort reads. Some of my suggestions included, Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey and Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. 

For me, each book was a comfort read. The kind of book to cuddle up with when it’s raining or snowing…or ungodly hot. Of course, the group didn’t choose any of those, but that’s okay. Revisiting these titles put them in my mind to reread. Yes, I reread my comfort reads and as often as I think of them. The one that caught my fancy this time was the David Edding’s  five book series called The Belgariad which begins with Pawn of Prophecy. It’s as good as I remember. It has a slow opening but once the quest begins, things really start to move. 

Eddings has a gift for writing quirky interesting characters and does some amazing worldbuilding. Of course, his wife Leigh may have had a whole lot to do with the characterization. In his early fantasy novels, Leigh is thanked in the acknowledgements, but in his later books she’s listed as a co-writer. So I think she probably had a strong impact and she may be the reason why his books contain such capable, entertaining female characters. His female characters are one big reason I loved this series. In so much classic fantasy, there are no women except those that stand along the sidelines to cheer the men on while they conquer the bad guys. In this series, the women are integral to completing the quest and I like that. 

The only thing I didn’t like is that this particular series isn’t available electronically. I love my Nook e-reader and my iPad. I have gotten to the point where I curl up with one or the other to read. But when I went to purchase these books they weren’t available. Some of the later Eddings releases are available in electronic format, but not the Belgariad, the Mallorean (a sequel series to the Belgariad), the Elenium or the Tamuli. I want e-books, darn it! So if any of you are Eddings fans like I am, do me a favor. Go to B&N or Amazon and click on those buttons that say you want to read the books electronically. I’d be ever so grateful!

So do you have comfort reads? Books you come back to time and again? What are your favorite comfort reads and why do you love them so much?


Tina Donahue said...

I definitely do have comfort reads. The ones I like best are the novels by the Bronte sisters. I can read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights again and again and never get tired of them.

BTW: that px of mac and cheese made me drool. I almost licked the screen. :)

Francesca Hawley said...

Jane Eyre is another good read. I'm not a huge fan of WH, but I love Jane. I also reread a lot of Anne McCaffrey books when I want a comfort read.

Fiona McGier said...

I love the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. Her heroines are well-developed and strong females and her men are strong and capable. There is a level of humor in the books along with fantasy. There are 4 of them, and though the 3rd is a little weak IMHO, the other 3 are certainly worth the re-reading!

I also love the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I'm working my way through the last one now, since the final book in the series will be out in a few weeks and I want to be ready for it. I've gone to see him speak and get autographs for the last few books, to give to my 3rd son as birthday gifts. Colfer is as funny in real-life as he is on the pages.

Note: both of these are YA series', but still they are great reads!

Also note: I'm probably one of the only English teachers you will ever meet who doesn't like the Brontes! I'm not a Jane Austin fan either. I don't like books of manners, nor do I like regencies. Give me a good contemporary or futuristic sci-fi anyday!