Comfort Books

Sometimes life kicks you in the stomach and then sits on you and pokes you repeatedly in the face.

Those times sucks.

It seems to be human instinct to wallow, at least for a short while, during these times.  To lay on the couch eating ice cream by the pint while watching bad daytime soap operas.  (I imagine back in the 1700s it was probably more fashionable to spend days on the fainting couch and complain of nerve issues.  Before that people, I don’t know, invented poetry or something.)

And we develop coping mechanisms.  Movies, games, people, books that we count on to, if not cheer us up, at least make things feel a little better for a little while.

I have a theory.  To see if it is true or not, what book do you turn to first when you’re feeling down?  How long has this been your go-to book?

My comfort book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  I read it first in middle school and have read it so many times since I can quote large swaths of it from memory.  (I also have fond thoughts of LOTR which helped me through a rough spot in high school, but it doesn’t lend itself too well to general comfort reading.)

7 responses to this post.

  1. The Hobbit still takes me away, and Narnia, but I think my “oh lork help me” book is one of my own, His Faithful Squire. I don’t know why, but it’s very comforting.


  2. With living in two places right now, my comfort read selection is very limited in the one. There right now it is taking the form of the few titles on my ipod – mostly Cindy Chima at the moment. Otherwise, there is Pratchett, Sherwood Smith and Riordan.


  3. I don’t have a comfort book. How is that possible? Some favorite books, yes, but nothing I turn to for comfort. And the fun books that left me laughing on the floor when I was younger (<= 18) haven't lived up to the hype of memory upon re-reading.

    Honestly, though, my instinct would not be to turn to a book in time of need. Friends and family, yes, or inward and alone with my thoughts (which can be counter-productive), depending on the severity. I think I might need to find that comfort book. It's a good idea, especially when I'm on self-imposed exile.


  4. I have a handful of comfort books – how many I get through depends on how long the bad patch lasts…

    The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy
    Dragon Song, Dragon Singer and Dragon Drums, by Anne McCaffrey
    The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley

    All of those are ones I first discovered in grade school, a good twenty or more years ago. More recent additions:

    Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
    A Brother’s Price, by Wen Spencer

    What’s your theory?


  5. […] to the Comfort Book theory, my theory was that people’s comfort books would either be something they read very […]


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