When people are feeling stressed, tired, depressed or overworked, they often head for comfort food like macaroni and cheese, a pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken or that tasty TV dinner with all the salt. Of course, there’s always a stiff drink.
When things are really bad, people add a movie to the menu. Once upon a time, folks would grab a musical like “The Music Man” or “Singing in the Rain.” Now, maybe they head for “Babe” or “Finding Neno” or something light and romantic like “Notting Hill” or “You’ve Got Mail.”
And then there are books, either the real thing or something on a Nook or Kindle to cuddle up with on a cold winter night or take out to the beach during the summer.
Some people define comfort books as spiritual books or something with an uplifting story and a happy ending. Others want a good adventure, a story that has twists and turns and enough action to make them forget how tired, overworked, depressed or burnt out they are.
Personally, I have so many books on my to-be-read list that I can hardly keep up with them, much less opt to re-read older books. One blogger said she turns to the Harry Potter books for comfort books. While, I haven’t re-read any of them, the Harry Potter movies do make good comfort movies around our house.
For comfort books, I’ve re-read Katherine Neville’s The Fire and The Eight multiple times. Why? Not totally sure, but it’s probably because they are long and have involved plots. They are fun as well as distracting. For me, if a comfort book is too light weight, it doesn’t hold my attention well enough to keep from thinking whatever dark thoughts led me to search for an old friendly book to read.
Last December, the Overdecorated Bookcase blog listed these as great comfort books:
- Northanger Abbey (Austen)
- Persuasion (Austen)
- Leave It To Psmith (Wodehouse)
- 84 Charing Cross Road (Hanff)
- The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde)
Meanwhile, Reading in Reykjavík includes these on her top ten list:
- My Family and Other Animals (Durrell)
- All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot)
- Moving Pictures (Pratchett)
- The Hobbit (Tolkien)
- Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery)
- The Prince of Tides (Conroy)
- Winter’s Tale (Helprin)
- Lonesome Dove (McMurtry)
- To Dance With the White Dog (Kay)
- Shadow of the Wind (Zafón)
It Depends on My Mood
There are days, when watching the first or second Terminator movie is just what the doctor ordered, while a week later, I might prefer Sleepless in Seattle. Same thing is true with books. How about you?
Do you use books to help you relax and/or chase the blues away? If so, how does your mood play into it? That is, do some moods require a good romance while others definitely need a mystery or a fantasy?
Only one problem I haven’t solved with comfort books—unlike comfort movies, it’s hard to enjoy them with comfort food. I don’t want pizza toppings all over my books. Reading, perhaps, requires something that works well with a straw.
At any rate, books, movies and food are much cheaper than a trip to the shrink.
–Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter for the Star-Gazer. Download his free “Jock Talks…Satirical News” e-book from Smashwords.