My son attends an early college high school. What that means is that he’s in his junior year and is now taking all college classes. He’s always looked to me for help with his writing courses and writing assignments. Since I used to be a university English professor, I’ve a pretty good handle on essay writing and academic writing. His midterms for his English classes have been in-class essays. He’s a slow writer–he’s a science kid, and so he likes to write very carefully and slowly to be sure it’s right. I’m working on helping him learn the drafting/revision process. Anyhow, he’s got a midterm coming up. He likes to do a practice prewrite before so he has his head wrapped around the subject and what he wants to say. He can’t take it in, but it helps him cement his ideas for the exam.

His topic is on Orwell’s 1984. I haven’t read it in years. Years and years and years. So I’m rereading it now and it’s really surreal to encounter all the stuff that has become so central to today’s world. Not just Big Brother, but newspeak and doublethinking. It also represents a lot of what I wrote about in my dissertation–a system of social surveillance/self-patrol that’s built on Jeremy Bentham’s concept of prison.

I like to go back and reread books. Some people don’t. My son doesn’t like to. My daughter reads and rereads and rereads again and again and again. A few years back, I went through my shelves and took off all the books that I wouldn’t be rereading. I probably got a lot of them wrong, but decided that I was doing a little too much rereading instead of attacking my TBR mountain.

I did not get rid of my most favorites, or the books in unfinished series. I tend to reread series books with every new release. The problem is that none of that helped. I only acquired more books and my mountain kept rising. Making matters worse is the fact that I’ll buy books that sound good, and then when I get them, I’m not in the mood to read them. I find myself craving comfort-reads. Books that I know will satisfy and make me happy and don’t offer a lot of upsetting surprises.

That’s weird.

I decided it’s because the world today has been too surprising and sad and difficult. I like reading books with a happily ever after, or a good triumphs over evil theme. I also like some of the comfort reads from when I was much younger, although some of those don’t hold up as well as I’d like. But the Riddle Master of Hed series is one I love. Robin McKinley’s Sunshine is another. Anything Jane Austen. Roger Zelazny’s Amber series. Lee and Miller’s Liaden books. There are a lot more.

I like Christmas romances a lot, and now’s the season. But so far, those I’ve been reading aren’t all that pleasing. I’m trying to decide if it’s something with me and figure out what I can do about it. I’ve been having some issues writing, too. But that’s a story for another time.

What are your favorite comfort reads? When do you go to them?

And I’ve a non-BVC book coming out in a couple of weeks. It’s the fourth in my Diamond City Magic series.  Check it out on my website and read the first two chapters.



Rediscovery — 5 Comments

  1. Boy, same here, and for the same reasons. If someone touts something as brilliantly grimdark, I not and smile, and mentally check that book off my possible reads list–I, too, have a mountain of TBRs, including a great deal of research material. Re grimdark, there’s enough of that in the news. And in history.

    Faves? Jane Austen, Horry Walpole’s letters, Lord Chesterfield’s letters, and those by Madame de Sevigny, and Liselotte von der Pfalz. The diaries of the Wynne sisters.

    In genre, Lois McMaster Bujold, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison, Robin McKinley’s THE BLUE SWORD, among many others. I like romance if they are funny.

  2. All of those, and some of Diana Wynne Jones. And Wind in the Willows. Elizabeth Cadell for when I’m needing comfort romance.
    Ive just started rereading some of Mary Stewart.
    Sharon Shinn’s 13 Houses set.
    There is a separate category of comfort listens – audio books for when the parlous world is keeping me awake. At present the Phryne Fisher books are in that que.

  3. Wind in the Willows is my top comfort book.
    3 of Dion Fortune’s novels though not the other two. Dorothy Sayers. Margery Allingham’s early Campions. PG Wodehouse for cheering me up with word play.

  4. Me too! When watching movies, it’s Pride & Prejudice. With books, it’s anything by Wen Spencer because I adore her sense of humor, Bujold’s fantasies, Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series, Cheney’s Iron Shoes, Tea with the Black Dragon, Jaran, Tiger & Del.

    And yes, my tbr pile knows no bounds. I’m trying a new rule: Read 2 tbr’s before I buy anything new. Amazon is aiding this process by killing the filter & sort options on my wishlist, so now I can’t be tempted when books in my wish list go on sale.