Anne here, hosting Ask-A-Wench for this month and today the question we're answering is "What are your 'comfort reads?' — the books you turn to when you're ill or tired, or it's a cold, wet, miserable day and you want to curl up with an 'old friend' of a book. This question sparked a conversation between the wenches, as we went back and forth talking of this writer and that.
In general, my comfort reads tend to be writers like Georgette Heyer and Eva
Ibbotson. I really enjoy plunging back into those familiar worlds and revisiting beloved characters. I still get a chuckle out of Ferdy and Gil and the Nemesis discussion in Friday's Child, or the Pel and Pom conversation in the street, followed by the search for Pom's aunt's brooch in The Convenient Marriage.
I ache for the noble heroes in Eva Ibbotson's stories and cheer the heroines on, and smile knowingly to myself when Guy Farne arranges a proper haircut for the heroine in Magic Flutes, or Rupert in The Countess Below Stairs forbids Anna to cut her hair because he "must have something." It's all about subtext in those books.
I've also reread Linda Howard's McKenzie's Mountain a heap of times, Elizabeth Lowell's medievals and Amanda Quick/JAK's stories. But I also enjoy non-romantic reads, like Dick Francis's crime books — Whip Hand is a favorite, as is Decider, and also Risk — most of them, really. And occasionally I'll turn to P.G.Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett for a chuckle. I reread a lot — books for me are like old friends and I like to revisit those worlds and characters.
Joanna said: When I'm troubled, I'll go to mysteries. The intellectual puzzle and the certainty of a solution comfort me. Agatha Christie. Patricia Wentworth. Dorothy Sayers. Or any of the recent cozy mystery writers. And C.S. Harris who writes mysteries set in the Regency period. I also have a particular fondness for C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and the books set in the land of Oz. Nothing really bad can happen in those countries. Nora Roberts gives me this same assurance in her Romances, especially the fantasy, magical ones. Sometimes we need a vacation from reality.
Cara/Andrea: I definitely have "go-to" comfort reads. Mary Stewart is a real favorite, especially The Moonspinners and This Rough Magic. I also adore Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody series, with Crocodile on the Sandbank and Children of the Storm, my top picks. And then there is, of course, Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion always soothe the soul.
Anne poking nose in again: Ohh, yes to Mary Stewart as a comfort read. My faves are Madam Will You Talk and Nine Coaches Waiting. I have a theory that every romance writer who's ever written a hero called Raoul is a Mary Stewart fan. There are those of us who write Regency era where it's difficult, but I suspect Joanna could fit in a Raoulish hero... And I adore Peabody and Emerson in Crocodile on the Sandbank.
Susan agrees: My favorite comfort read by far is Mary Stewart -- though a favorite book within that group of favorites isn't easy to choose! Moonspinners, Wildfire at Midnight, My Brother Michael -- The Gabriel Hounds — I love them all. When I'm laid up with a cold or flu, or if I really need an escape, I go straight to the Mary Stewart shelf. As a reader I'm comforted, and as a writer, I learn something with every reading about lyricism, description, subtle characterization, and understated, compelling heroes.
Other comfort reads — Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels; Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time; Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale; and my comfort-classic is Jane Eyre. A comfort read for me is a novel that brings back that first, fresh feeling of discovery and joy in story and voice, helping me feel good no matter what.
Mary Jo said: When I'm stressed out on deadline and need to read something familiar and beloved, my default is SFF: Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books, especially MEMORY, KOMARR, and A CIVIL CAMPAIGN. Her CURSE OF CHALION — love, love, LOVE that story.
Sharon Shinn's Thirteen Houses series, especially READER AND RAELYNX. Catherine Asaro's Skolian series, especially SPHERICAL HARMONICS (which I just reread, as a matter of fact.) All strong stories with strong characters and satisfying endings. But reading all these comments is making me want to reach for a Mary Stewart! It's been too long since I read MADAM, WILL YOU TALK.... and THE IVY TREE. Sigh.....
Pat said: I'm probably not a good person for the comfort read blog. The only book I've ever re-read is Pride and Prejudice, because I read it first when I was very young and needed to refresh my memory. There are just way too many new books to drool over for me to be tempted to go back to something where I have some chance of remembering how it ends.
Jo Beverley said: Comfort reads come in two categories for me. One is the old favourites that are guaranteed to take me to familiar content. Heyer is in there, and in a recent re-read I particularly enjoyed The Reluctant Widow. Like Mary Jo, some SF and fantasy fits. I too love Bujold's Curse of Chalion. My favourite Asaro is The Last Hawk. I have some Sharon Lee and Steven Miller favourites, and one of those is Local Custom. Very much a romance, and with characters struggling with rules and honor, which always appeals.
The other category is, well, categories. When I'm wanting both a new book and a comfort read, I'll go to the library and try a mystery. I think that's because they're an emotionally safer read. I avoid the sort of mystery writers -- too many of them these days IMO -- who want to explore the darkest aspects of the human psyche. I want a puzzle, a good range of characters, and a clever but convincing solution.
* Nicola is away on a well-deserved break, hopefully curled up somewhere lovely, possibly on a boat, with fine company and a good book.
So what about you? Are you are rereader of favorite books? Or is once mostly enough for you? What are your comfort reads? Let's share.