Five Comfort Books

Help me. help me. help me. I’m right in the midst of my finals season, and I haven’t felt like a person in a great number of days. I need some good books. Sure, I’ve been doing plenty of reading, but that reading usually falls into the soul-crushing and pulping variety known as academic research.

Some of you might be asking, “Madeline, darling, how do you expect to fix this problem with more reading?” To them, I hiss and burrow deeper under my blankets. I’m absolutely tired of writing to explain myself in circles with theses, topic sentences and the like. Books don’t ask such silly questions. Books understand. My comfort books do, anyway.

I can’t exactly go off and read something too high highfalutin in this current state of mind. My brain would turn to mush at trying to exert itself that much more in what’s supposed to be my personal leisure time. With that in mind, I usually return to my favorites that I’ve read and re-read again, books I know well that will offer me the comfort I need at a time when I’m about to crushed by looming piles of my ridiculously overpriced textbooks. I’ve selected a couple here that are good comfort books to me, each with a couple different reasons why they feel so gosh-darn cozy. You might’ve seen some of these guys before. You don’t have to pick these books for yourself if you’re looking for a good comfort read, but you can certainly use my motives for picking them to guide your own comfort book selection

1. The Dragons are Singing Tonight, By Jack Prelutsky. When in doubt, regress back to your childhood. This book of poems by well known children’s poet Jackie P. was one my parents frequently read to me as a kid. I held onto it long after I traded my picture books in for more “grown up” reading material. The poems were all about dragons, though not necessarily just the singing type. Looking at the beautiful illustrations and reading over the old, rhythmic words reminds me of my mom doing the silly squeaky voice of the Nasty Nasty Dragon (who was just a half inch tall,) or chanting the words to the title poem, “The Dragons are Singing Tonight”. I get some of the childhood lightness back, the ability to find happiness in such small things, when reading old comfort books from my childhood. Plus, they give perspective. I mean, I was terrified of Boom the Thunder Dragon, but now I can read through that poem no problem. I shall overcome thee, finals!

2. Discworld. Yes, dear old Discworld again.  The great thing about this series is that I don’t have to pick a book I’ve already read to feel comforted when reading it. I know the voice so well: I’m so comfortable with it that any book in the series will be an easy breezy ride for me. Finding a series whose voice truly speaks to you is an absolute treasure, one that gives you a sense of home just by looking at the pages. Sometimes, finding a series like this can seem like kismet. Having a great understanding of how to pick out new books doesn’t hurt either.

3. Bossypants. Yup, another favorite of mine. It’s a funny book, and here’s the funny thing about funny comfort books, a thing especially true in great times  of stress.All those jokes that you’ve read thousands of times already become much, much funnier. I could almost certainly quote the punchlines to all my favorite jokes in this book, but during finals season, or any other high-stress season, that doesn’t stop my from coming back to an old friend that knew, that still knows, how to make me laugh.

4. The Harry Potter Series. This is another series that feels like home to me, but it’s a bit different than Discworld as far as why I find it so comforting. Unlike many lengthier series, the Harry Potter books  have all been written: the story they meant to tell has come to a close. I’ve read through many series I’ve loved that ended, satisfyingly or otherwise, and felt saddened at not being able to see more. That doesn’t make what is there any less a treat. I don’t simply pick a book and re-read the whole thing here, I pick a couple parts out of this or that book that I know I love to read, or that I feel would resonate particularly well with me at the time, and I read those passages. Look at poor old Harry, struggling to get through his OWLS. If he can, then so can I.

5. The Walking Dead. Yup, another favorite of mine. This time, the world the stories take place in is the key here. I could easily say similar things about Harry Potter here, but imagining yourself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse is just the trendy thing to do right now, so I thought I’d follow suit. One of the big sellers of The Walking Dead series is that it makes such a rich, complex world, one that people do want to live in. When life in this reality starts to give you the stink-eye, some time, (just some time I’m not trying to make you dysfunctionally stuck in make-believe land here,) thinking about living in and exploring a different world can be very refreshing. Who needs to study? I just need to worry about scavenging water and medical supplies without getting mauled alive. This is a much easier life.

So yeah, if you’re in a very un-comfy place right now, I definitely feel for you. Why not go find some books to make it comfier? Look for old friends, friends whose voice you’ll never tire of, friends that will make you laugh, friends you just need to re-live classic moments with, and friends that’ll help you escape, for a time. They’ll help pull you through, and soon you’ll be wondering why you were ever so upset in the first place.

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