What are your comfort books?

August 22, 2014 at 3:08 am 2 comments

booksFor all readers, there is a special, deeply personal subset of books that I like to call “comfort books.” These are different than favorite books or even the books you might recommend to others. Rather, comfort books are the ones you turn to when you need home the most. When everything is topsy-turvy and you just need to be reminded that it’s all going to be okay. Comfort books are the chicken soup and a mother’s hug of literature and each reader has his or her own list.

For me, the list is quite short—Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is the only book on it. Because when you have a book about a close-knit group of sisters persevering in the face of poverty, quite literal civil war at the doorstep, and societal limitations by sheer force of will, goodness, and love, what else do you need?

Whenever I’m feeling blue, I just need to turn to Little Women and everything seems manageable. Jo’s move to New York got me through my own intimidating move to the big city after college. Their simple Christmas at the very beginning of the book has repeatedly reminded me what matters, and what doesn’t, and the unending font of life wisdom that is Marmee has steered me into calmer waters innumerable times.

There are other books I might turn to for distraction from whatever is troubling me (most often Jon Fasman’s The Geographer’s Library seems to do the trick), but that’s different. Comfort books don’t cover up a bad mood—they cure it.

So what are your comfort books? Because comfort books are such a personal choice, I’m always interested to hear which books help others through the rough patches in life. (And which don’t—one of my closest friends visibly cringes anytime I mention Little Women because she dislikes it so intensely!) Tell on below!


Entry filed under: Musings and Essays. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. neuroticmom  |  August 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Believe it or not I have never been able to get through Little Women. My go to books are The Mitford Series by Jan Karon just a very lighthearted series I can sit back and relax with. I have read them so many times it’s like going home when I sit down and read again about the town of Mitford.

  • 2. Kate  |  August 26, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I do love Little Women, but anything by Edith Wharton normally does it for me. For whatever reason, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell is also at the top of the list — probably because it’s such a good book to take traveling that I just always end up reading it during a tumultuous time. It’s so escapist, but the Regency setting also makes it familiar and comforting in many ways.


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