Hey guys. It’s my rough estimate that recent events in politics have many of you feeling pretty low. I’m right there too. It’s times like these that you have to bring out your comfort books. I’ve got a few solid buddies it feels great to have by my side, no matter how many times I’ve reread them. Of course, this is all very much a matter of personal taste, to each their own, but I’ll tell you what I love about my comfort books and maybe afterwards you can tell me about yours in the comments below. If you don’t think you have any, maybe this’ll give you inspiration.
Mary Oliver Poetry: I believe that one of my very first entries was about Mary Oliver and how much I enjoy her poetry. What I enjoy most about her work is that I always find it incredibly calming in it’s simple frankness. She sees beauty in the world and especially nature, but finds a way to put down that beauty in a simple way that is almost the inverse of the florid, ostentatious Romantic pieces waxing poetic about nature that you might remember from High School English class. One of my favorite quotes from her is about how to live life.
“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
Howl’s Moving Castle: This is a fantasy book by Diana Wynne Jones I read and fell in love with when I was younger, so I usually take it out when I feel especially nostalgic, or when I think of the brilliant movie adaptation by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s a good old rollicking fantasy adventure about a shy young woman coming into her own and realizing her magical inner strength, (hmm I wonder why I related to this book so much,) and also about her romance with the difficult wizard Howl. In trying to teach Howl to be honest with his emotions and face up to things, an important lesson for Howl in the book, she utters one of the best lines the book and film, one that reminds me it is okay to feel overburdened emotionally, because I’m a human with a heart.
“A heart’s a heavy burden.”
-Diana Wynne Jones
The Tao of Pooh: That’s Pooh as in Winnie the Pooh people, a Taoist text taught by Winnie the Pooh people. I wrote a previous post about why this book means a lot to me. In short, my dad gave it to me when I graduated high school because he’d enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. He both wanted to share it with me for the joy of sharing a good book and to help me prepare for going out into the adult world and handling myself. It was the first text I’d ever read about Taoism, and I found it very helpful when I needed to keep my hyperactive, anxiety inducing impulses in check. The Tao of Pooh showed me how you can use what you’ve been given in unexpected ways to find happiness.
“…instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways. We could describe the principle like this: while pounding on the piano keys may produce noise, removing them doesn’t exactly further the creation of music.”
All these texts are very comforting companions to me right now. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, but I’ve got my books to anchor me and keep on pushing me in the right direction. I’ve gotten through a whole lot of tough stuff with my comfort books before, and I’m feeling confident they can help me get through this too.