Thursday, June 19, 2008

Comfort books

We read books for so many reasons: for entertainment, enlightenment, information, thrills, amusement, inspiration, escape. But when the world is topsy-turvy and novelty seems utterly undesirable, books can bring comfort.

Lately I've been reading my comforting books, the books I grew up reading, which are old friends that have served me well long into adulthood.

Madeleine L'Engle's "Time" series tops the list, and gives me something new to think about -- about the nature of time, the universe, human relationships, good and evil -- each time I revisit them. These books were spellbinding when I first read them over 20 years ago, and even after a dozen more readings, they still elicit the same thrill.

I also reread Harriet the Spy, a classic that seems both timeless and nostalgic. What 11-year-old child can wander around Manhattan so freely these days? It makes me wish for my very own Ole Golly.

Next, I think I'll go back to my favorite Roald Dahl book, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Edward Eager's Knight's Castle, and Tove Jansson's Finn Family Moomintroll. They're all childhood books that aren't the least bit childish, that absorb my heart and my head in equal measure, and that serve as touchstones I can go back to again and again.

What are your comfort books?

2 comments:

Amitha S.J. Knight said...

Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series and Bridget Jones's Diary. I think once Potter-mania has died down (in say fifteen years or so), those books will also top my list.

Gilly said...

The L'Engles are high on my list as well, but I think Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword is probably my top favorite.

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