I’ve been sick most of this week (so if this column is less comprehensible than usual, you can blame the drugs). During my illness I’ve been eating a lot of so-called “comfort foods,” alternating among chicken soup, tomato soup, and—because my body has some very strange ideas about what foods are good for it—pizza. It started me thinking about the literary equivalent to comfort food.
When I’m nervous, or lonely, or—as I was this week—just plain sick, I like to go back and read some of my favorite books again. A Wrinkle in Time, which I mentioned in my first Book Nook column, is probably the most obvious example for me. This probably has to do with when I read it the first time: I was 12, horribly sick with the stomach flu, and my father picked this up for me. I was instantly in love with Meg, Calvin, Charles Wallace, and all of L’Engle’s other fantastic characters. A few years ago someone bought me a copy of Wrinkle as a Christmas present; the copy my father bought me had long since been lost. I hadn’t read it in years, but when I immersed myself in the world of Meg Murray again, I felt like I was reuniting with an old friend.
In contrast, I cannot remember the first time I read Jane Eyre—sometime in college, I think. But Jane immediately became one of my favorite heroines, not just because she ends up with Mr. Rochester, but because she ends up with him on her own terms. Pride and Prejudice will always hold a similar place in my heart; Elizabeth and Darcy may not be economic equals, but by the end you know they are each other’s equals in every other way.
And if all else fails, I can just revert back to my early childhood. I still have a soft spot in my heart for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a book I still quote when I’m feeling down).
I don’t know whether I’m the only person like this—my own mom can’t read a book more than once, and thinks I’m crazy for doing so—but to me, there’s something warm and comfortable about it. It feels like coming home.
Selected Book Releases, November 24-30
Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz—A heart transplant recipient is stalked by a woman who bears an eerie resemblance to his donor.
Knit Two: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs—A sequel to the New York Times Bestselling The Friday Night Knitting Club.
How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven—Guys everywhere will be happy to know that this advice book on, not surprisingly, how to talk to girls was written by a nine year old. Lets see how this kid fares once he actually hits puberty.
Love Is Hell by Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfield et al—A collection of supernatural love stories for young adults conveniently timed to take advantage of the millions of teen girls going into post-Twilight withdrawl.
Crossroads by Belva Plain—Privileged-but-plain Gwen and poor-but-beautiful Jewel search for love.