Comfort Reading

It’s time to Tackle Your TBR Pile!

I admit it—my TBR pile is enormous. I buy a lot of books I fully intend to read sometime, honestly, or at the very least loan out to people, or keep on hand in case someone needs a book for a school assignment. So why do I so often, when I’m in need of something to read, return to old favorites instead of making a dent in the teetering pile?

Some days, when I’m tired or feeling a little low, reading is the perfect activity. But it’s those days when I’m least capable of tackling something new—when I really need an old favorite that’s worn grooves in my brain over the years. Sometimes it’s books I loved as a teen: Heir of Sea and Fire by Patricia McKillip, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Sometimes it’s more recent favorites, like Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (sequel coming out next year!), Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, Sylvester by Georgette Heyer. I can slip into those worlds easily, knowing what to expect and matching the book to my mood. Comforting, and restful.

But there’s more to it than that. I may be reaching for these old friends for comfort, but I’m not the same person I was when I read a book the first time, or even the fifth or the twentieth time. Every time, I see something new, and in that sense even an old favorite is a brand new book. Sometimes that backfires: I’ve gone back to a book only to discover I’ve changed enough that I no longer love it, and that’s a horrible feeling. But mostly I find my comfort reads don’t change much over the years, and I’m grateful for it.

So here’s my challenge: what are your comfort reads? What stories do you come back to even though you’ve got fresh, new, potentially wonderful books at your fingertips? Leave your comments below from now until September 23, and one random commenter will receive their choice of one of my books—Emissary, The Smoke-Scented Girl, or Servant of the Crown. I look forward to seeing your titles—and would love it if some of them are the same as mine.

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27 thoughts on “Comfort Reading

  1. It’s not often that I will re-read a book because there are too many new ones calling for my attention. But, there is one book that is my comfort book, that I have read several times. It’s on your list! Anne of Green Gables. Brings me back to my childhood every time.

  2. I can really relate to the idea that the message of the book seems to change based on how we have changed. I reread some Isaac Asimov books from the Robots series, and I wondered where all those boring parts between the action scenes had gone. I’m sure there were boring parts when I was a teenager, and I remember talking about them. I just can’t find them any more. 🙂

  3. There are many books that I have re-read over the years and instead of naming them all I can lump them into one label, and that’s classics. Whether it is Pride & Prejudice, Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, Or Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn, it seems to be the tales from times when life was less about hustle and bustle and more about just enjoying your day that brings me comfort.

  4. hum i don’t reread that often because if i read the book not too long ago its still to fresh in my mind but when feeling down i do go back to favourite series and/ or authors that i know shouldn’t disappoint me… it looks like i always keep at least one of those book ready in teh TBR just in case
    those are Patricia briggs,
    Suzanne Johnson ( never ever disappointed me i really love everything she writes so far)
    nalini singh

    thank you a lot

  5. I am a bonafide book hoarder. I go out and buy books whenever I feel my shelves need new books (which is never because I am running out of room!). It doesn’t help that there are always awesome looking books I need to read but have yet to aquire.

    My favorite authors that I re-read (I try not to, but I always re-read to get myself out of a book slump) are: Nora Roberts, Cherise Sinclair, Gena Showalter, Lori Foster, etc. There are so much more but I can’t seem to think of them!

  6. What great books on your list, Melissa! Some of those are long-time favorites of mine (love Patricia McKillip, Anne of Green Gables, Crown Duel, and Sylvester!!). My comfort reads (and you all should read them since I highly recommend them) are: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, both books in the For Darkness Shows the Stars series by Diana Peterfreund, any of Kasie West’s books, any of Sarah M. Eden’s books, My Stubborn Heart and Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen, any of Melanie Jacobson’s books, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, and the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, to name a few. Ha! I could go on, but I won’t. That’s quite a list in itself. 😉

  7. My long time favorite (comfort) read is Blekitny zamek (Blue Castle) by Lucy Mount Montgomery. Recently I read the English original and was shocked – the Polish translater changed the hero’s names so I needed almost the entire book to get used to the different feeling of the book caused by this and some other alterations of a book I grew up with.

    There was a really long time I read over and over the Love Comes Softly and Canadian West Series by Janette Oke as well as In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon.

  8. It looks like there are several people that have already said Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, but I am going to say it too. I have re-read my copy of this novel so many times that it is quite literally falling apart. 🙂

    Robin McKinley has also previously been mentioned. I love her novel Beauty and have re-read it several times.

    Authors I also thoroughly enjoy and would read and re-read any of their books are Julie Klassen, Karen Witemeyer, Tamera Alexander and Melanie Dickerson.

  9. My comfort read is ALWAYS Harry Potter. It doesn’t matter which one, but it is one I will pick up when I am in the need of something I love. I have listened to these books so many times. They will forever be hands down my favorite reads of all times. Great challenge 🙂

  10. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Kensington Chronicles by Lori Wick, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Diamonds in the Dust by Joni Eareckson Tada, The O’Malley series by Dee Henderson

  11. Thank you so much for the generous giveaway.

    Comfort reads to me are re-reads of favorite series. I survived a breakup by re-reading a favorite series over again and letting myself get into the books.

  12. I have so many that I love to reread. The Hobbit, JD Robb’s In Death series. JR Ward, Patricia Briggs. I reread a lot if I loved a book. Oh the Harry Potter series

  13. When I am in a bit of a blah mood I love to read cozy mysteries because they are just a lot of fun and make me laugh. I don’t really reread many books but now and then I might take out Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion by Jane Austen.

  14. Star of the Guardians by Margaret Weiss is my go-to for sci-fi. I have seriously worn though a few copies of this series to the point the books were literally falling apart. The Christy Miller series is a great teen, feel good series that always holds a special uplifting place in my heart that I like to revisit. Harry Potter every few years. They brought back my love for YA and increased my ever love for fantasy and I always feel great when I read them. Hogwarts is my happy place 🙂 It I have had a really rough day or week, oddly enough reading something twisted is the the way to get me out of my mood so anything by Dean Koontz often works for re-reads.

  15. I don’t know that I have a comfort read. I rarely get the opportunity to re-read books. I think I have more of a comfort genre, which would be historical romance.

  16. It’s likely that I’ve already said almost everything I’m about to say now about rereads, where you’ll have seen it, but there’s one relevant addition to the discussion so I’ll do it anyway! I’ve been doing very few rereads the last few years, but books I’ve read many times include Anne of the Island, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Crown/Court Duel, The Perilous Gard and To Say Nothing of the Dog. The recent one that hardly qualifies as a ‘comfort read’, but has been the exception to the rarely-rereading habit, is The Road Home. I’m not entirely sure why I keep reading at least parts of it, but some is that I want to check whether some character or another made it, and then just have to get to the ending, to be sure it’s still okay. And of course it’s just so good that I get swept along.

    I’m not sure why I do the opposite from you on rereads, but a lot of times it seems to be the drive of wanting to read what GR friends are reading that pushes me towards new books. Also I think my to-read shelf, along with the maybe one, scares me already, so if I actually listed all the books I’d love to read again too, my head might explode.

    1. I started analyzing my reading lists according to why I read a book: recommendation, re-read, research, favorite author, or whim. And I found that of the new books, almost all of them were because someone I knew was reading it. Those, and keeping up with favorite authors/series, keep me so busy I rarely just grab something that looks good. Besides, I like the security of someone else having forged ahead. 🙂

  17. My favorite comfort reads are usually some children’s books about horses. They are so short and bring me back to my childhood. My favorite is any book in the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley.

  18. I always re-read On the Side of the Angels by Kristen Randle or Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey. I don’t know how many times I’ve read these.

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