Thursday, September 13, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Comfort Food


Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)


On the upside, a rainy day is my favorite kind of day. After I dry my eyes, wash my face, get into some very comfortable clothes, mentally set out a plan of how to deal with the mess I seem to have gotten myself into--prioritize, maybe make a call or two to defer some of the bills, see where I can cut corners and outline a tight budget, update my resume, hide all the pictures of my beloved pet so I don't break down again, destroy that favorite baseball cap my ex left behind, and take a little medicine, I may be ready to curl up with a book. Up until then, I most likely would vegetate in front of the television, flipping through the channels and trying to get the motivation to do anything at all. I'm the kind of person who likes to set things in some semblence of order if I expect to seek comfort after a major life catastrophe. I cannot relax otherwise.

I realize though that this is not the point of the question. Less disaster would be much more conducive to creating a desire to tuck my legs underneath me on the couch, pull the afghan up to keep warm, and seek comfort in the pages of a book. This in an effort to fight off a cold and put distance between whatever other trauma I've suffered in my life recently.

Comfort comes in varying ways. Much depends on where my mind is and what I am going through at any particular moment. My first inclination is to say that a comfort read for me is something light in subject matter, perhaps on the funny side, maybe easygoing, and not especially thought provoking. While that may be true when I have had an especially stressful day at work and my brain feels overworked, it isn't necessarily always the case. When I most need to take my mind off of things, I like to read a mystery or a suspense/thriller--something fast paced and so engrossing and intense that I forget about all else. It can be funny or serious, maybe some of both. Sometimes I just want a bad guy to despise and some evil to fight against. If I want to be cheered up, definitely something with a happy ending is in order.

It is difficult to name one particular book that I turn to for comfort since I rarely reread a book. I often think of Charlaine Harris, Jan Karon, Jane Austen, and James Patterson among the authors whose books I might find soothing.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy!
    Usually I will just dig into stuff like tidbits, chocolates if I'm feeling down. They bring me comfort, besides books that is. I eat a lot when I'm stressed too. ;) But then, that will further upset me if I notice my weight is going up, haha!

    Hope you have a great weekend.

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  2. I would also pick something that absorbed completely and made me forget my troubles for a little while, and that doesn't necessarily mean something cheerful or light. Of course, if the story were too sad I might end up feeling worse by the end.

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  3. Reading a super happy, "comforting" book would only make me feel worse. In a situation like that, I want to read about someone who has it MUCH worse than I do -- so I recommend something in a Thomas Hardy vein -- Tess or Jude... or even Angela's Ashes... if you really want to feel like the luckiest person alive.

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  4. Melody - I've been known to do that too, although I tend to do more comfort eating when I am feeling a little bored rather than when I'm feeling really down.

    Nymeth - I know what you mean. Cheerful and light isn't always necessary, but sometimes when my brain is tired, I'm not in the mood for something that requires much thought or effort. I want something I can breeze through, but which I can lose myself in.

    Lost Cheerio - I considered that side to it when answering the question, but reading depressing books when I'm seeking comfort is just not very soothing for me. I very much enjoy depressing or more serious books, but for different reasons. Often times when I'm seeking comfort, I need something that will help me escape for a short while, not pull me down deeper into despair.

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  5. BTT turned out to be complicated this week! lol

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  6. Really good answer to this meme, Lit. I wouldn't want to read anything to cheery if I was blue. I'd especially avoid any self-help books. It would definitely be suspenseful - something that totally pulls me into the story.

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  7. Chris - Yes, it has! I haven't had much of a chance to check out other bloggers' responses, but the ones I've gotten to are all very diverse.

    Booklogged - Thanks! I agree. Sometimes cheery isn't the best thing to read--unless you are ready to be cheered up. I like suspense for just about everything, but it's especially handy when I need comforting.

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  8. I also like to read books that aren't light but make me feel lucky not to be in the situation the characters are in the book! Usually this will be a horror story of some kind or true crime. I get immersed in their plight and forget about mine if only for awhile. Odd choices for comfort reads but I am an odd person!
    Jody

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  9. Jody - Oh, I don't think that's odd at all. Those kinds of stories are often so engrossing that they do take your mind off of your own troubles, and I think that's sometimes the best kind of comfort there can be.

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  10. Comfort reading for me would probably be Alexander McCall Smith or Jan Karon. I love mid-century British mysteries too like Dorothy Sayers and Edmund Crispin. Interesting question!

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  11. Terri - Alexander McCall Smith is another one of my comfort reads too. :-)

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  12. It's funny, but I've never thought of reading as being something soothing, but I suppose it is.

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  13. Erin - I find reading very soothing--even probably some types of books that don't seem like they would be. LOL

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