Comfort Reads (42nd Bookworms Carnival)

imageI’m just tickled to be hosting this 42nd Bookworms Carnival! Thank you to everyone who sent in their links on such short notice.

I chose the topic of Comfort Reads because there are always those times in life when a much-loved, well-read book is exactly what I need, and I’m hoping you all feel the same, too.

The desire for a spot of comfort reading hits me most often during the winter: usually at night, when it’s toasty warm inside and bitterly cold outside. I look at my special reading armchair and thoughts of a good, familiar book and a mug of hot tea come to mind.

I’ve enjoyed seeing the titles my fellow bloggers turn to when they’re up for some comfort reading; there are many old favorites of mine in the group, plus some new titles that of course I’ve now added to my list of books to get my hands on. All I can say is, it’s a good thing Christmas is just around the corner!

Classics

Ah, the classics! I have quite a few classics on my own list – especially Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster, and The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford. Only one person submitted a classic, but it’s a lovely one for reading on a cold night, all warm and cozy in front of the fire.

Heather from Age 30+ … A Lifetime of Books submitted Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. If you’re like me, whenever you think of Wuthering Heights you think of Heathcliff. I also tend to think of dark and glowering brows, too! Heather has included a great detailed list of the cast of characters that does a wonderful job of refreshing your memory about this classic if it’s been a while since you’ve read it.

Fantasy

There’s something about a good fantasy that gives that old favorite one an edge when it comes to being a comfort read. I think it’s because the world you dip into is so different and all-encompassing (with the best fantasies, anyway), that you literally are swept away for those few hours you’re re-reading.

Heather submitted as another comfort read, Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of my own favorite reads. I’ve always had a fondness for retellings of the King Arthur story, and I read this when I was a teen and just adored it. Heather says, “I guess I’d have to say that if you DO find it challenging, it is VERY worth the effort you put into it. For me, this is a “must read” for just about everyone.” And I agree totally!

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series is another series I turn to in my own comfort reading, so I was pleased to see it showing up in the submissions. Zee at Notes from the North recommends listening to the Dragonsinger series in audio, which sounds like a great idea. Jemi at Just Jemi has also included the Pern series in her list of comfort reads, and I am in complete agreement with her! I recently bought the first three books in the series in ebook format, so that I’ll always have them to dip into.

Zee also includes in her list a fantasy series by David Eddings, the Belgariad and Mallorean series; I’ve read a few books by Edding, and she’s reminded me it’s time for a revisit.

Jackie at Literary Escapism submitted three urban fantasy books that sound like fantastic reads; I haven’t read any of them, and have added them to my list. There’s Friday Night Bites, by Chloe Neill, a novel about the Chicagoland vampires, and Destined for an Early Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, another novel about vampires. And I’ve had the Riley Jensen series, by Keri Arthur, on my list for a while now; the latest installment, Bound to Shadows, sounds so good.

Sheila, from One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books, picks The Three Sisters Trilogy, by Nora Roberts as her comfort reads; I haven’t read very many books by Nora Roberts, but as soon as I read Sheila’s post, I immediately added these books to my list – I love the concept of three independent women who are all witches. In her email to me, Sheila wrote, “These three books are favorites of mine and are always a “go to” series if I need to just sink into characters that are like old friends to me. Even talking about them now makes me want to go visit them between the pages of these books.”

Mysteries

There’s nothing more perfect than curling up with a good mystery, and with the passage of time, I find that my memory of exactly whodunnit has dimmed enough for old favorites to be just as enjoyable as they were the first time I read them.

For Aarti, at Booklust, Footsteps in the Dark, by Georgette Heyer, is a favorite read. She says, “Footsteps in the Dark is a thriller mystery of the first order, complete with secret passageways, priest holes, skeletons and a cowled monk.” She definitely has me sold on this one! I’ve never read a Georgette Heyer, and one of her mysteries seems like a good place to start.

Candace, at Beth Fish Reads, submitted a book from one of my new personal favorites: the Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. In her review of Death of a Travelling Man, she notes that she started this series in audio mainly because of the narrator, Davina Porter. Candace likes to read her series in order, but I tend to grab hold of whatever I can find; I seem to have started the series at the opposite end, and the majority of the ones I’ve listened to have been narrated by Graeme Malcolm. I like Porter’s narration a bit better, but Malcolm does some great accents.

Zee’s picks include J.D. Robb’s In Death series. This is a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while; Zee writes, “This series makes me laugh and the characters feel very real …”

And I’m very glad Jemi included Agatha Christie in her list. She says, “Agatha Christie’s mysteries are kind of like chocolate for me,” and that’s such a perfect description of how the Christie books feel to me, too. My memory isn’t as good as Jemi’s, though – I’ve been rereading Christie in audio, and I find that I’ve forgotten who the culprit is in most of the novels!

Children’s Books

The books I read as a child will always hold a special place in my heart; one of the first things I did as a “real grown-up” holding down a job (ie finally having a bit of money to spend) was to start buying copies of all the old favorites that I’d borrowed time and again from the library when I was little.

I grew up with Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, so I was so glad to see that Jessica, of The Bluestocking Society, and Jemi both chose Anne Shirley as one of their favorite comfort reads. I have read and reread the whole Anne of Green Gables series so many times, I can quote whole sections from the book. Jemi writes, “As a shy, serious girl, I wanted to be Anne’s friend.” I could have written that! I remember wishing I knew someone like Anne, too; the term “kindred spirits” will always hold a special place in my heart.

Jemi also includes The Hobbit in her list of comfort reads – another one of my favorites! I couldn’t decide whether to put this under Fantasy or children’s books, but since I’ll always associate The Hobbit with childhood, I decided this was the proper place for it. (I read The Hobbit long before any of other The Lord of the Rings books.)

Food Writing

There’s something just so comforting to me about reading about food; I go on occasional food-writing splurges, during which time I’ll read nothing but food writing. I also come out of these splurges with a few extra pounds, I think, because one thing about good food writing – it makes you hungry!

Margot, of Joyfully Retired, has submitted a book that’s one of my personal favorites: Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. As Margot points out, “Her tone is strictly conversational – just as if you are sitting in her kitchen talking about food.” That’s what makes this book such a charming book for me; I loved Margot’s example of having a conversation with the author as she was reading it!

General Fiction

A lot of the books in my own comfort reading pile fall into a general, non-genre category. When I look at them, I see that a charming, cozy feel is a common element.

I loved Jessica’s review of 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff. This is a book that has long been on my “I really want to read that” list, and her review is a good reminder that I really do need to get to it.

Amy, from Amy Reads Good Books, submitted Trouble, by Kate Christensen. I’ve never read any novels by Christensen, but Amy’s caught my attention with this: “it was a thoughtful meditation on how we do or do not bounce back from trauma as we age.” Another interesting book!

Jackie at Farm Lane Books has chosen The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp as her comfort read – Sharp’s books are out of print, but she was lucky enough to find three of them! Ever since I read Jackie’s review of The Nutmeg Tree, I’ve been on the lookout for books by Sharp. They sound like the perfect comfort read.

Myrthe, at The Armenian Odar Reads, submitted The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. This is a lovely review; she writes, “It is the one book that still makes me cry all through the last chapter, a book that I immediately want to start again when I finish it.” I haven’t read The Chosen yet; it sounds like such a beautiful coming-of-age story.

I was also thrilled to see that Melanie, at The Indextrous Reader, submitted Alexander McCall Smith: “My version of comfort reading must always include Alexander McCall Smith,” she says in her post. Me too! She has great things to say about both the Mma Ramotswe series and the Scotland Street series. I haven’t yet fallen under the allure of the Mma Ramotswe series yet, but McCall Smith’s Scotland Street and Isabel Dalhousie series are both very near and dear to me.

Melanie also submitted The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, by Eva Rice. The title is so charming. Melanie writes, “Full of eccentric English characters, revealing social conditions, ancient houses, True Love, teatime and Selfridge’s, I greatly enjoyed this lovely and unusual novel.” I think it will be one I’ll enjoy too.

Finally, Meg’s review of The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen, at Write Meg is so enticing; this is another book I’m adding to my burgeoning list of books to get my hot little hands on. Meg calls The Sugar Queen a “seriously delightful, magical story”, and reading her review, it sounds absolutely charming and whimsical, with dashes of mystery and magic.

This ends the Comfort Reads edition of the Bookworms Carnival! I hope you’ve rediscovered some old favorites in this list, and perhaps added a few to your list that you haven’t read before.

Play along with us! What are some of your comfort reads?

39 thoughts on “Comfort Reads (42nd Bookworms Carnival)

    • I feel like I’m all ready now for a long cozy winter of reading! I’m not a big fan of historical novels but I love historical mysteries.

  1. My two biggest comfort reads are Lord of The Rings (oh, how I disliked the movies. Sam Gamgee is one of my favourite characters ever but they totally messed with him), and The Long, Dark tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams.

    Thanks for the list Belle. Now, I’ve got a fresh list of books to look up and get into. Hmmm, I may never get ANY work done now!
    .-= Steve Kubien´s last blog ..El Toro fountain pen in Redwood burl =-.

    • “Hmmm, I may never get ANY work done now!” – that’s what I’m here for :)

      I’ve never watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies …

    • I’m really excited about the Three Sisters trilogy, Sheila. I’ve put in a request already for Dance Upon the Air at my library!

  2. Comfort reads? Lord of the Rings, for sure. Most books by John Buchan (The 39 Steps, John MacNab, etc.). Trollope’s Barchester Towers. Stephen Lawhead’s Song of Albion series.

    Yeah, I’m conflicted…

    Oh, and The Old Man and the Sea. Done now.

  3. Belle – I know exactly what you mean about comfort reads! I love them, too, and they are especially welcome during cold weather or stressful times. For me, Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels are the ultmate calorie-free comfort food : ). I could read them over and over and never tire of them. I feel much the same way about Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. They are brilliant and warm and wonderful novels, in my opinion.
    .-= Margot Kinberg´s last blog ..Warning! Toxic! Do not ingest =-.

    • “Ultimate calorie-free comfort food” – perfect description, Margot! I really do need to try the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series – I enjoy McCall Smith’s other works so much.

    • I’d never even heard of the Three Sisters trilogy, Jackie, so I’m so very glad to have discovered it. And I really need to get moving on starting the Keri Arthur series!

  4. There are some great reads in this list! I’m glad to see others who love McCaffery’s Pern books. I’d also add all the Sherlock Holmes stories to the list, and the new Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King – anything Holmes never fails to make me feel better. Great job with the carnival!
    .-= Heather J.´s last blog ..The Better To Hold You =-.

    • Yes! Sherlock Holmes – I’d forgotten about him. I especially like the short stories. And Laurie R. King’s Russell/Holmes books are among my favorites, too. Have you read Eye of the Crow, by Shane Peacock? It’s about the boy Sherlock Holmes, and it is really good.

    • Your review definitely sold me on Trouble, Amy. I love when that happens, because I don’t think I would have added the book to my list if I’d just stumbled on it!

    • I love that I’ve added quite a few books to my list now, and just knowing that they are comfort reads for other people makes me feel like they’ll be keepers for me, too.

  5. Oh, I forgot a huge one for me… Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follet. I love this book and read it every year or two. The trouble is I can NEVER remember the title or the author. Heck, I had to look it up just now on google (“fictional book about a cathedral”). Also, As The Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer (I think).
    .-= Steve Kubien´s last blog ..El Toro fountain pen in Redwood burl =-.

  6. Ach, I missed the carnival call! However, I now have a great list. Thanks for the compilation. That takes time and effort.

    My go to books are “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry”, “Mrs. Mike” and “River God.”

    I am definitely a re-reader. Some of my books are going on their fifteenth read-throughs. I can’t fathom not coming back to characters I love.

    Thanks again, Belle.
    .-= Cat Woods´s last blog ..Writing Is Exactly Like Selling Tractors =-.

    • I’m a re-reader, too, Cat. I feel a little guilty about it sometimes because I have so many interesting books in my to-be-read pile, but I still do it regardless!

  7. Comfort reads: Jane Austen, certainly, and Dickens´ Our Mutual Friend. I also reread Agatha Christie, but mostly Miss Marple. I have a very suitable Christie review for tomorrow, however :D
    .-= Dorte H´s last blog ..J is for Jul =-.

  8. How have I never before heard of this Bookworms carnival? I would totally have made a Comfort Reads post had I known this was happening.
    I think the only book I’ve read that you mentioned was the Sugar Queen, which was AWESOME! I can’t wait to read her book coming out in March, the Girl Who Chased the Moon.
    And also I’ve read Agatha Christie, of course.
    I love comfort reads!!!!
    .-= Audrey/brizmus´s last blog ..Saddest News Ever =-.

  9. I have three comfort reads and two comfort series. The reads are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, The Stand by Stephen King, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The series are Charlaine Harris’ Sookie books and P.C. & Kristin Cast’s House of Night books.

    I’ve read many of these several times.
    .-= Ladytink_534´s last blog ..What Happens in Vegas… Sometimes Follows You Home =-.

  10. Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain are my biggest comfort reads. Whenever life’s really got me down, I grab THE BOOK OF THREE off the shelf and read the series straight through. I wish I’d reviewed them on my blog so I could’ve submitted them for the carnival, but it’s been quite a while now since I last read them. I’m going to have to make them a priority in 2010, regardless of whether I need to be comforted!
    .-= Memory´s last blog ..169. Fire by Kristin Cashore =-.

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