Bookish Stuff: Comfort Reads

It's a glorious autumn day today and I ... am anxious about what is happening in the US elections at the moment. Feeling nervous about the outcome which is obviously also going to influence world politics, however, has made me think about comfort reading. I mean, if you're like me any kind of reading will essentially be comfort reading. Reading is simply something I need in order to balance my life. Yet, there are some books that I put into the category of comfort reads.

I guess what a comfort read is is a highly subjective issue. Every reader will have their personal list of titles or genres that they come back to when times are going - well - not so great. For me, a comfort read could either be a well-written chick-lit-kind-of-novel, one that isn't too cheesy but warms the heart, or it could be a particular classic. For example, I have a few childhood reads that I love to come back to when I'm not feeling well.

One of these is Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I remember reading this in my teenage years and being utterly mesmerised by the character of Jo March. Back then I desperately wanted to become a writer. I was also clumsy and had a bit of a temper - just like my heroine from the book. Little Women meant so very much to me at that time and it still is the book I mention most often when people ask me what my favourite novel is. I know, it is far from perfect  because it has a very preachy tone but it always lifts my mood and that's what counts. 

Another all-time favourite is Frances Hogson Burnett's The Secret Garden. This is a story that I first experienced as a film. (Yeah, I know. Psst, don't tell anyone.) But that most certainly didn't take away any of the pleasure of reading the book afterwards. The mystery of that hidden garden and the lush imagery is just a perfect remedy for anything.

A book I only discovered about two years ago but one that has become a favourite comfort read is E. Nesbit's The Railway Children. Yes, it is a bit naive but that's exactly what I love about it. The quiet and peacefulness of the remote countryside even in horrible times of war always works for me. It reminds me of the carefreeness of childhood and of times when you could just roam free until dark fell without any obligations whatsoever. 

Last but not least, as I'm sitting here with one eye checking the news ticker, I'm self-medicating with William Sieghart's The Poetry Pharmacy. This little gem of a collection I came across two years ago when I travelled to London with a group of people and we went to an event where Sieghart was interviewed by Jeanette Winterson. His poems were then read by four celebrities, among them the dashing Jason Isaacs and the marvellous Helena Bonham Carter. The book provides poetry for any situation in life and has emotionally helped me out in many tight spots. It also made me discover Wendell Berry, so I'll be forever grateful to Sieghart for that anyway. :-)

So this is my little list of comfort reads that I like to come back to over and over again. As I said before, this is highly subjective and obviously linked to certain moments in my past that made these books so important to me. But what are your go-to comfort reads?? I'd love to know so feel free to share in the comments!!

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