Something that drew my eye during one of my visits to that strange and wonderful planet called Internet the other day was a headline question leading to an intriguing article. Are you emotionally attached to your books? it asked. For a confirmed bookaholic like me, it was a magnet.
The answer is yes, of course I am. See last week’s post. But that wasn’t really what the article was asking; when I dipped in, I found it posed quite another question: what books do you return to when reading is a solace and an escape? What, in other words, is your comfort reading?
It gave me pause for thought. There was a time when I used to go back to some books, and not just once but over and over; my shelves certainly contain some well-thumbed volumes. At this remove I’m not sure why I did it, though at the time I’m sure I had good reasons. More recently, I re-read a Jane Austen or two in the wake of the Austen Project, more out of curiosity than anything else. And a few years ago I read a wonderful novel called The Selected Works of T S Spivet twice in two years, because it was so rich and complex that I was afraid I’d missed a lot first time around. (I was right.)
But mostly these days my attitude is so many books, so little time! Maybe it comes with the getting older territory, which I hate to have to admit to, especially to myself; but to take a literal approach to the cliché and regard it as a sad but inevitable fact, there really are a lot of books out there which I want to read, and being totally realistic, even at the rate of two or three books a week, which is pretty typical, I probably don’t have enough years left to fit them all in, especially if the list keeps growing, which it seems to.
My book wishlist currently runs to upwards of a hundred titles, and I haven’t updated it recently. And that doesn’t include the dozen or so on my to-be-read shelf, or the gems I will no doubt choose from the extensive lists for review I receive twice a month, which often give rise to additions to the wishlist when I discover a backlist from an author I hadn’t encountered before.
So my answer to the comfort reading question would probably be something along the lines of, any well-written crime novel with an interesting protagonist, which doesn’t dwell too heavily on the gory and violent bits. Unless it’s by Lee Child or Val McDermid, when the first half of the sentence outweighs the second by a considerable margin.
Come on, guys; I think I’ve just thrown down a challenge. Comfort reading. What’s yours? And what do you recommend for mine? Anything by Jeff Cohen or E J Copperman is a given, of course.