Alchemical Thoughts

Some thoughts on comfort books

Posted on: June 10, 2016

I have seen this prompt in at least two places. The most recent was P.Z. Myers’ blog, where he says he got it from The Bloggess. Prior to that, I saw it over at the Stacked blog.  The Bloggess puts it as follows:

“What are your comfort books?  The ones you’ve read over and over…more times than you’ve read your very favorite books.  The ones you’d take on a desert island as a medicine, or would need to pull out on a turbulent plane ride?  Do those books even exist for you?”

These can be also favorite books, but they do not have to be. These are more the books that pull off the shelf when you need to go to one of your special places and get away from the world. Notice I say special places because those places do not have to be happy places.  They are places, whether bright or dark, that you just feel right at home.

My comfort books vary from fiction to nonfiction. Usually these are the book I read when I need something familiar, something that gives me some warmth, and that I can fairly easily immerse myself in. I have read them before and every so often I need to read them again. It may also be that I need some quick escape from reality, so a known element is desired. So, which are my comfort reads? Here are some:

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (Spanish language edition). Every so often, I am not sure how, I just know it’s time to head back to Macondo. For me, this book is an example of perfection when it comes to universal fiction. When I need to lose myself, a trip to Macondo to see the ice and the wonders of Melquiades and remember the rain and so much more feels like a home away from home for me. I am not providing a specific book link as there are many editions out there, and the book has been translated in various languages, so odds may be good you can find an edition in your language. My personal copy, which is tattered and held together by a rubber band when I am not reading it, was my mother’s personal paperback copy. It is one of the very few items of hers I managed to get after she passed on. So it is not just a comfort read, but it also just a reminder of her as well and the fact that she help shape me as a reader.
  • A Passion for Books, edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan. I am not sure how many times I have read this, but it is one of my comfort reads. What I like about this book is that is a collection of short pieces, essays, quotes, trivia, etc. This means I can skip around the book and read a bit here and a bit there for some comfort.
  • 3 x Carlin: an Orgy of George. This big volume collects three of George Carlin’s books, and it does include some of his classic routines. When I get sick and tired of the bullshit and nonsense in the world, I turn to George Carlin’s book and his humor. He tells it like it is in a time when not too many people do that. I certainly miss him and his wit and great mind. He definitely deserves to be known as the thinking man’s comedian.
  • The Godfather. I have not visited with the Corleones for a while, but this is another comfort read for me. When I need to go a bit darker, this is one of my options. Plus say what you might, there are lessons to be found in this book. Again, pick your favorite edition.
  • Oh, and for Halloween season, it does not feel right until I have re-read Batman: The Long Halloween. This has been tradition for me for a few years now. It is a favorite book. As other people read things like The Night Before Christmas during the Christmas season, I read this book during October.

So now readers, your turn. I invite you to share in the comments, or maybe you write a post of your own and share the link to your blog, what are your comfort reads? Why are those choices your comfort reads?

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1 Response to "Some thoughts on comfort books"

[…] A Passion for Books: A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books by Harold Rabinowitz. This is one of my favorite books. In fact, I listed it in my recent post on comfort books. […]

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