Friday, January 31, 2014

In Search of Comfort Food, er, Reads

Alabama, in case anyone missed it (because you were stuck in traffic in Georgia, for example), got walloped with some winter whiteness this week. In my neck of the woods, it came mostly in the form of ice. I had some pretty impressive ice formations on my front awning:

Such things make you crave comfort foods but if you aren't stocked up, the next-best thing is a comfort book, right?

Being socked in for three days (albeit with a looming deadline) made me start thinking about comfort books--the tattered, worn books we turn to when we want something that makes us feel good, no matter how many times we read them. Books with bent spines, hot chocolate stains, and (gasp) dogged ears.

Here are my top three, in no order. Don't judge.

* The Wheel of Fortune, by Susan Howatch. It's a big, sprawling, messy, multigenerational family story with a touch of gothic that Howatch did so well in the middle period of her career. The first book of hers I read (in high school, no less) was Penmarric, which made me fall in love with Cornwall. Then Cashelmara, which made me fall in love with Ireland. In Wheel, my favorite of all, it's Wales she enchants me with. The stories are well told, emotionally rich and complex.

* The Kent Family Chronicles, by John Jakes. Don't judge, I tell you! This is the
first series I ever read if you don't count Nancy Drew or the Bobbsey Twins. I think I picked up the first book, The Bastard, because I thought it had a daring title (she laughs, thinking of the language that appears in her books these days), but quickly got caught up in the skillful blend of history and soap opera. They're addictive, all eight of them. I spy those tattered, often-reread paperbacks on my shelf as I type. Hm....

* The Stand, by Stephen King. I say it again: Don't judge! Okay, that scene where Larry Underwood is feeling his way through a pitch-black Lincoln Tunnel full of dead people and rats? Maybe comforting isn't the right word, I'll grant you. But M-O-O-N I love this book. Okay, this will date me. A friend and I sat in a biology class passing notes back and forth as to who we'd cast in a movie of this book should one ever be made, and we agreed that the dashing young actor named Robert Redford would be a great Stu. When it got made, me and Rob were both kinda old, so
Gary Sinise did the honors.

Seriously. Don't judge.

What about you? Favorites?


Louisa Cornell said...

I had to laugh at your Stephen King choice. Salem's Lot and Pet Cemetery are two of my comfort reads. I have collected ALL of Stephen King's books in hardback because my paperbacks are in such rough shape!

Other comfort reads are :

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Bechnel

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Simply Love by Mary Balogh

To Sir Philip With Love by Julia Quinn

Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson

Seven Night's in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell

And the list goes on. And a few years ago when I was confined to bed for a week with pneumonia I read every James Herriot book written. They are great comfort reads!

Ali Hubbard said...

Wait! I'm not the only one with comfort reads? Man, I love this group! Your choices are great. For me, it's Outlander first. Then, Thorn Birds (I didn't judge you, don't judge me. lol). I learned the word "protrude" from that book. Then, I like to pick a nice Julie Garwood. But I could probably comfort myself to death. lol. There are a lot of good choices. I will also occasionally go Robert Heinlein.

Suzanne Johnson said...

LOL, Louisa--there are some titles here I need to check out. I'm glad to hear Stephen King made someone else's list!

Ali, I read Thorn Birds back in the day, so I can't judge...although now I'm wondering why "protrude" made such an impression!

VampedChik said...

The Stand is one of mine too! :) Also the Hobbit and pretty much any JD Robb book.

Ali Hubbard said...

Hmmm, "protrude," it was the first book I read where they ... well,um. Never mind. lol

And JD Robb Books - how can I forget Dallas?

Meda White said...

I nearly raided my comfort read stash the other day, which is the Sookie books by Charlaine Harris. I own the whole set. Instead, I opted to try one of the fifty or so books in the TBR pile by my bed. In For A Penny by Kelsey Browning and Nancy Naigle had me laughing out loud- think Southern Grannies solving crimes.

Steph F. said...

My comfort reads have always been The Outlander series, anything by Kresley Cole(she always makes me laugh) and anything by Anne Mccaffrey.
I want books that make me smile or swoon for comfort.

Aidee Ladnier said...

OMG! The Kent Family Chronicles!!!! We had all of them when I was growing up. Those were a must read.