by Amy Rice
food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.*
book that induces fuzzy warm feelings, can be read repeatedly, and is quick and easy to consume.**
After I finished a graduate degree and had free time again, I spent a solid year reading nothing but frivolous books. My criteria were simple: titles that are not particularly intellectually challenging, fun to read multiple times, and easy to pick up the plot at any random point. Though now I am expanding my reading horizons, my comfort reads are still on standby for picking up on a weekend or reading a bit just before bed.
Here’s a select list (in order of reading frequency):
- Cozy mysteries (what is this, you ask?). Okay, so strictly speaking, these comfort reads do not fit the “read again” category, but it definitely fills the “warm fuzzies” criterion. Quality and mood varies widely among cozy mystery authors, but I devour anything written by Amanda Flower or her penname: Isabella Alan. Besides the fact that I actually know her and she writes about places I’ve lived, her books are consistently entertaining and she always has a great cast of characters.
Release date: October 6, 2015
- Pride and Prejudice.
This also fails in one criterion: it’s not an “easy” read, per se, but vastly satisfying and one I come back to (and about which I wrote my undergrad English thesis).
- Some books in the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
My favorites are Sorcerer’s Stone and Prisoner of Azkaban. If I am in “comfort read” mode, I will select my favorite books/passages to read. But I also read through the whole series on a semi-regular basis.
- Almost anything by Sophie Kinsella
These are practically guaranteed to be frivolous and fun, with at least one cringe-inducing mishap or harebrained scheme.
- The Chronicles of Narnia.
I read the entire series at least once a year. Each book takes a couple of hours to read. Despite their comfort read status, they do have some thought-provoking ways to think about faith, but mostly, they are great stories.
- Best of Friends.
A favorite from my teenage years, this definitely falls into the comfort read category, but it’s also in a category all its own: Christian bookstore find. Yes, there is a conversion scene. However, the real value is the main character. He’s real. A teenager trying to figure out where he fits in the world and in his family. I actually have two copies of this book. Countless years ago, two of the pages fell out. Even back then, I had read the book enough times that I could fill in the blanks. But recently I was browsing a second-hand bookstore, and I found another copy in great condition! To be honest, I really didn’t miss much in those two pages.
- The Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery
You can’t go wrong starting at the beginning, but one of my all-time favorites is Anne of the Island. I love the tales of Anne’s college experience.
- 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope, by Maureen Johnson.
Travel, romance, a quirky aunt, and Harrods!
- Avalon High, by Meg Cabot.
Though not in a diary format like the Princess Diaries (also by Meg Cabot), Avalon High has a strong first-person narrator, so it has a similar mood and voice. Also…King Arthur!
- Austenland, by Shannon Hale.
This currently occupies the #1 spot. I think I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. And it was the first book for which I decided I needed the print and ebook versions. Austen fans will appreciate the Regency details (as told by a 21st century woman) and Austen references. But I also really appreciate the character development (note: if you watch the movie, keep in mind that it’s basically the plot of the book stripped of all character development. Once I got over that hurdle, I quite enjoyed the movie for what it was: pure fun)
*”comfort food.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 01 Aug. 2015. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/comfort food>.
**my own definition
Amy C. Rice is an Access Services Librarian at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. She has been contemplating a Harry Potter or LOTR tattoo for years. To date, she has purchased not one, but two Trivial Pursuit sets (the genuine articles, not the themed versions) at yard sales. She likes reading, but also thoroughly enjoys Netflix and going to movies. And yes, Idaho potatoes are quite tasty!