Comfort reads. Is there a reader who doesn’t have one or two, maybe more? Perhaps, but if it’s so, that reader isn’t me. And it isn’t Shannon from Giraffe Days, either. A post on her blog – a lovely blog, I might add, that I eagerly check most every day – not too recently focused on her top ten comfort reads. I thought: I can do that. But as it turns out, I can’t. At least not easily.
Why? Well. These books- the ones that offer comfort – fill me up. I think about them and it’s like something inside of me is expanding, my feelings like air in a balloon, pushing and demanding. Like a string tying off that balloon, I try to wrap my mind around each exhale of emotion. And I can’t. I’ve never been able to blow up a balloon to its fullest. Asthma. And I expect that no matter how many times I try to write it, I’ll never get this post just right.
But what I can do is scale it back. Try to focus on a couple and stretch the theme into several posts. So that’s what this is, the first post and two books that have long since been cemented as comfort reads.
Before I get to them, though, I’m going to borrow Shannon’s definition of what a comfort read is. She nailed it.
“What is a comfort read? That’s an easy one. It’s a book that, no matter your mood, you can snuggle down with. A book that you know, because you’ve read it before, has the power to absorb you, de-stress you, shine a little light on your soul for however long. It’s a book where the characters are like family, a book that has associations and memories for you – good ones. A book that’s like your best friend, like a cuddly old jumper that you will never throw out no matter how tattered it becomes. It might be an ugly edition, it might have water damage and dog ears and wrinkles on the spine, or it might be immaculately preserved (especially if you’re as careful with your books as I am!).
A comfort read is, quite simply, a book you read to comfort yourself with. You know what happens but that’s never a problem. It’s the characters and the story that you love, like a favourite movie or comforting song. And, for me, I think it needs a happy ending. I want to be left with that feeling of wholeness that is happiness.”
There is a faded receipt within my paperback copy’s pages. It’s been mostly stripped of its print, but you can just make out the store’s name, the price of the book; I’m sorry to say that the date is gone, worn away after all this time. A couple of weeks ago I opened the book for a re-read; I came to that receipt and smiled. For no particular reason other than it was there and it was a touchstone to the day I bought it, not knowing what awaited me, how deeply I would come to care about Claire and Jamie. How consumed by it, by them, I would become. As I began to read, I realized it was as true now as it had ever been, and that my emotions were as firmly tied to the story as they ever were. Moreso. Because now I do know them. I know what bits of dialogue turn me inside out, or cut me. I know there are scenes that flicker behind my eyes like a film strip, so clear, and that I don’t need to actually read one again to recall it in a blink.
Reading Outlander was a perfect experience for me. And because it was it scared me; as a result, I put off reading the next book. Eventually I did, but it shook me up so bad I didn’t continue from there. Until recently. After that re-read I made a decision: I wasn’t going to put off reading Voyager any longer. And that’s what kept me occupied all of last week. But that’s not this post, that’s another; hopefully I’ll get it written and posted this week. Suffice to say, I’ve fallen even more in love. And I’m just as scared as I was after that first, brilliant read through of Outlander.
Perhaps its odd that something that riles me up so much can comfort as well, but it does. Does it ever.
Since they are in a few small ways similar, I have to mention Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness; I read it just this year, but reading it again means falling for it again, each time. It belongs on this list, too.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time this can’t come as a surprise. But I have to mention it here, again.
The omnibus edition is 1204 pages long. I carried it around in my bag for weeks while I read it and then after. I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t want to part from it. There are times still that I find myself standing in front of the shelf it sits on, running my finger across its spine. Because I need to be close.
The books that make up this trilogy harbor several of my favorite characters of all time: Lucivar, Daemon, and Saetan. I can’t imagine my life without them and their world in it. They both may have their brutal moments, their darkness, but there is so much tenderness and passion in these pages, and when I’m settled among them I always feel safe and happy. Content.
Truth told I could have included all of the companion books because I pick them up again and again as well, and love them nearly as much. More truth? Ms. Bishop could write a single page and so long as it was a scene shared by the three listed above, I would be blissed out.
So there it is. Inadequate. But I’ll be back again with part two sometime in the near future. In the meantime, tell me which books are in your comfort read category?