Comfort Reading

For some people, it's murder mysteries. For others, it's Georgette Heyer Regency romances, or the reliable battiness of P.G. Wodehouse, or escape into high fantasy.

For me, comfort reading means kids' books - the kind of books I devoured when I was a child myself. It doesn't have to be the exact same books. In fact I've been overjoyed to discover some "new" authors lately - new to me, at least - whole new shelves of treasures to savour. What I love most are old-fashioned story-tellers, writers with safe hands, where the writing is so clear and assured that I can forget that I'm reading, and I begin to live inside the story. Strong and complex characters are important, but an evocative setting draws me in, too.

So who have I been turning to? My "new" authors are K.M. Peyton and Cynthia Voigt; I also have a Rumer Godden waiting on the bedside pile. Noel Streatfeild is always reliable.  These are books that need to be read as books - holding the battered paperback in my hands, turning the slightly yellowed pages is part of the comfort experience. Reading these books on an electronic device (can't you just see my nose wrinkling in distaste?) would be like trying to eat macaroni cheese in pellet form. Pointless.

And the other day I wavered outside a secondhand book shop I hadn't visited before (Barwon Booksellers in Geelong). 'You're not here to buy anything,' said my friend sternly.
'I know,' I said. 'But I just have to look. What if they have The River at Green Knowe?'

And you know what, faithful reader? THEY DID!!

What's your comfort reading?


  1. Kids books absolutely! I recently finished What I Was by Meg Rosoff. I felt bereft. Who was going to share my evenings from now on? It was total immersion for me and i savoured every word, every scene. And naturally I stroked the book at the end and ran my fingers over the title font and re-read the imprint page and the blurb and the back cover and chapter one (always do that). Sniffed the pages (could I smell the sea?) I would climb inside that book if I could. Comfort reading is never just a visual experience. xx

  2. Cold Comfort Farm, Bridge to Terabithia, Carrie's War (Nina Bawden). To name but a few.

  3. The river at Greene Knowe- have all those books gradually garnered one after the other-love Leon Garfield also- lovely to see you today too- can't wait to read Crow country!

    Lorraine M

  4. Well, I am actually reading Charlotte Sometimes (aloud to Fred) on the Kindle and I must say that these stories are so potent that the device entirely disappears - I have found I'm only "conscious" that I am reading on a Kindle when I am not absorbed in a story (and have the same experience with books - if the story doesn't grab me I am much more aware of the book itself: turning pages becomes a clunkier experience, words fall flat in my mind). Before you chuck me out of the club, I should point out that I also own the book but it's in a box along with most of my other books as we are still without shelves, so being able to access these books electronically is great for me.

    To me being able to watch the opening music to tv shows I've half forgotten on youtube is the main point of the Internet. I'd love it if all those books were increasingly available in electronic form, though I admit there is nothing like the true pleasure in coming across such books in secondhand shops, like a chance meeting with an old friend you thought you might never see again. And when it's a book you're actually looking for, it can seem like your wishes made manifest.

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