I’ve been struck this week by the dreaded winter lurgy, and as you do when you’re bed-ridden and have a medical certificate exempting you from housework of any kind, I’ve been scouring my bookshelves for my favourite comfort reads.
You know those books—they’re not just keepers, they’re keepers guaranteed to put you in a happy place. They’re books that never age and that you continue to enjoy even after the hundredth read. The best ones let you revisit the emotional highs and lows of that first read, even though you know exactly what’s going to happen next.
Here are some of my favourite comfort reads:
On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I almost didn’t finish this book the first time I read it. Thank goodness I killed a fairy and persevered. Marchetta writes young adult angst like nobody’s business and this novel never fails to move me. Sometimes I catch myself randomly wondering if Jonah and Taylor are okay, and yes, that sounds a bit demented, but that’s how real these characters feel to me when I read the book. I’ve been known to walk past my bookshelf, randomly pick this up and spend the entire day rereading.
According to Marchetta, a screenplay has been written, and I’m desperately hoping this story finally makes it to the big screen.
You can read my review here.
Kissing Comfort by Jo Goodman
I’m not a fan of Westerns, generally, but Goodman’s novel about a girl found at the scene of a fatal ambush, and two brothers vying for her attention, is dark and mysterious and just exquisite. The story unfolds slowly and the suspense plot is unpredictable.
To me, this book hearkens back to the epic romances of the 80s. I don’t know that it’s longer than other books—it just feels that way. Perhaps it’s the slower pace, but I could spend hours reading this book.
Seize The Fire by Laura Kinsale
There’s just something about being stranded on a deserted island with a cranky hero ! The hero, Sheridan, suffers from serious PTSD and is bit of a cross between Dr House and Bear Grylls. He never does the predictable thing—he’s broken and angry and not at all noble. When he does the right thing, the universe conspires to punish him.
The plot itself is so far-fetched as to be farcical. It involves a princess whose naiveté is like the touch of doom to everyone around her. She can, I admit, be irritating, but I have to be honest—for me, this book is all about Sheridan. The ending is a little abrupt, but still. Those few romantic weeks on a deserted island make up for everything.
Enchanting Pleasures by Eloisa James (Pleasures Trilogy, Book 3)
My copy of this book has been reread so many times that the binding is falling apart. I don’t read it as much now—I may have overdosed on it a few years ago—but I’ve used it more than once to convert friends to historical romance. I love the Shakespearean references, the unconventional heroine and the surly hero. (Are we detecting a pattern here?)
But what I love most is James’s writing. It’s witty and charming and just lovely to read. Yes, some parts of the plot are hard to believe, and it’s always tricky healing a mystery illness, but I don’t care. I love this book.
The Longest Night by Kathleen O’Reilly (Bachelorette Pact, Book 4)
I fell in love with this book when the heroine—think Samantha from Sex and the City—insists on a medical certificate before having sex with hero. The hero of this book is so unbelievably patient and romantic—definitely too good to be true, but hey, it’s romance! The climax of the story is wonderfully ambiguous until the very end, and it cemented O’Reilly as an autobuy author for me.
By the way, I also love book 3 of this series, but I can’t find my copy, so I haven’t reread it in a while. I’m very sad about this, but I’m convinced it’s just hiding in the bookshelf somewhere!
I’d love to hear your comfort reads. What books are guaranteed to get you out of the doldrums?