Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keep Calm and Read On

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: This photograph is of intrepid readers at a recently bombed Holland House, in Kensington, London, England, during World War II. It may or may not have been staged for British propaganda purposes, but the spirit of the British during the war — as well as the tenacity of readers even (perhaps especially) in hard times is unmistakable.

I love this photo, for so many reasons, but probably most because reading is what's helped me through so many challenging times. And books aren't illegal, immoral, or fattening! (Although often best enjoyed with a glass of wine or a cookie, in my opinion....)

For me, it's not just reading during these times, but rereading — comfort reading, in other words. Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, anything by Alice Hoffman, anything by Laurie Colwin, early Ken Follett.... And so-called children's books — by Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, T.H. White, Frances Hodgeson Burnett, and Louisa May Alcott — are standbys as well.

I'm assuming if you're reading this blog, books are important to you as well. What books to you turn to in times of crisis? What do you consider "comfort reading"? What books do you read again and again?

Please share in the comments section — we'd love to know!

Photograph reprinted with permission of English Heritage.


  1. When I was a kid my mom read to us every night and the book that really stuck with me was "Down the Long Hills" by Louis L'Amour. My dad had recently left us and we'd had to move back closer to family, leaving friends behind. A few years ago, as mom was dying of cancer my brothers and I took turns reading the same book to her.
    My comfort reading is the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. Great characters and a lot of fun.

  2. The books I reread the most are the Trixie Belden series. And yes, certain books in the series definitely qualify as comfort reads. I also love to reread the Narnia books.

    I wish I had more time to reread. As it is, I am constantly falling behind on books I would love to read. Oh to do nothing all day but read. If only I could figure out how to support myself doing that.

  3. Susan, I love that photo too. Even if it had been staged for British propaganda purposes, it would have taken brave people to stand there casually looking at books.

    The books I reread are almost always children's/YA novels. The Harry Potter series comes to mind, I have read it several times through and listened to all several times each by both readers—Stephen Fry and Jim Dale. I prefer Stephen Fry's reading.

    My first hardcopies are from England where I bought them at Blackwell's and had them shipped home. Then I brought the US versions. The art is different and some of the books are a bit different, especially the first in the series. I guess I'm sort of collector.

    There's something about them that is very comforting, although I'm not sure I can say exactly what it is. The good guys don't always win. So it's not that.

  4. Despite the fact that my to-be-read pile is always on the verge of toppling over, there are times that I re-read simply for the pleasure of engaging in a story that I love. I’ve re-read each of Julia’s books several times, and find that I always discover something new each time . . . .
    Growing up, I was a huge science fiction fan . . . re-reading anything Isaac Asimov wrote is at the top of that “comfort reading” list. Several years ago I found a copy of his long out-of-print “The Best New Thing;” it’s still one of the most treasured books in my personal library . . . .

  5. Congratulations to Julia, Hank, and Rhys for their Agatha Award nominations!

  6. Yes, first of all, WOOT! to Julia, Hank, and Rhys on their well-deserved nominations!

    I never reread whole novels as an adult. I did as a child, and nearly memorized the Laura series, for example. As Mark said, I'm always behind in my reading and always have four or five new books that I urgently want to get to.

    But my favorite book to crack open again and again is Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. What a tome of information! We often have it open at the table at family dinners.

  7. I own all of Barbara Pym's books and especially love to reread Excellent Women and No Fond Return of Love.

    A favorite non-fiction book that I turn to again and again is Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough. It's on my nightstand right now, as a matter of fact.

    I reread favorites from childhood, too, especially the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. (I own all of them.) Two of my sisters and I have them memorized, I think! I'll always be grateful to the librarian who introduced me to them.

    Funny, Mark, that you mentioned the Narnia books. Just the other day I was thinking it's time for me to reread them!

    I just finished reading Susan Wittig Albert's fictional account of some of Rose Wilder Lane's life, A Wilder Rose. I've put rereading the Little House books on my "TBR-again" list.

  8. Oh, another Barbara Pym fan! (Deb R: WAVING!) Another Laurie Colwin fan! (Susan: WAVING!)Pride and Prejudice is on top of my comfort reading list.

    And isn't it true, how great children's literature draws us back when looking for comfort. Anne of Green Gables and the Harry Potters. Roal Dahl's The BFG.

    And YAY Rhys, Hank, and Julia for Agatha nods!!! We'll be papering the conference hotel in red leopard spots!

  9. First off, I too congratulate the Reds who have been nominated for Agathas. Well deserved!

    In trying times, I usually turn to the classics. Jane Eyre is probably the book I pick up the most during those times.

    I will also pick up Donna Tartt's The Secret History because it is so easy to get lost in those words and forget everything around me. That is the book I have read the most times, because everytime I pick it up, I have to read the whole thing.

  10. SO HAPPY! Thank you, all..I am still floating. Whoo hoo to all.

    You know it's odd--I hardly ever re-read. I'm thinking about this, in light of all your choices, and it's odd. I just--don;t.

    I guess my go-to is Sue Grafton. DOn't tell her, but I haven't read ALL the books, which is so lucky for me now! Because when I am looking for something I know will be wonderful and inspirational and even educational as a writer, I always just pick a letter.

    I can envision, though, rereading Harry Potter. And Narnia. And you know, the Edward Eager books.
    But some pesky real-life work thing would tell my conscience I don't have time.

  11. Confession: I have not read Donna Tartt. Start with Secret History or Goldfinch??

  12. Definitely start with The Secret History Hallie. The Goldfinch is amazing, but I don't think anything will ever live up to that first book.

    Skip her second book completely. (The Little Friend)

  13. Yes, congrats to all the Reds for nominations. Yay!

    Comfort reads. Oh, so many. Pride & Prejudice, yes. Harry Potter. Narnia. Anything by Agatha Christie. Currently re-reading Rick Riordan's HERO'S OF OLYMPUS series. David Eddings' THE BELGARIAD, and BELGARATH THE SORCERER. I could go on, I suppose, but I might never shut up.

    My mother could never understand why you'd re-read a book. I could never understand why you wouldn't.

  14. What Kristopher said about Donna Tartt: ITA. I loved The Secret History. I'm not sure what happened with Little Friend, but Secret History reads like a debut novel, so start there.

    Comfort reading: My grown up self reads Elinor Lipman, because I love her women and her humor. My child self reads Rumer Godden. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Little Plum and Little Peach, came to life for me as much as any people-y characters.

    Congrats to the Agatha nominees! Kudos, ladies.

  15. Yay for Trixie. The first 6 books (by Julie Campbell) hold a place of honour on my bedside bookcase. A good Georgette Heyer always feels relaxing when I'm confined to bed or couch or just want to veg mentally (because I know and love the stories, not that she's a low-brainer).

    Our Lady of the Lost and Found, by Diane Schoemperlen, was just what my battered soul needed one night a few years ago.

    However, my all time reliable comfort reading, bar none, is D E Stevenson, whose books never fail to feel warm and familiar. I'm always at home om Stevenson's world.

  16. Mark -- Trixie Belden! Yes! Usually overshadowed by Nancy Drew....

    And Hallie, you MUST read Tartt's THE SECRET HISTORY. It's a mystery, even if it wasn't marketed as such, and a fantastic one at that...

  17. I reread Susan Conant's Holly Winter books. Love them. Dick Francis. I loved Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody books and reread them many times. Also her Vicki Bliss books.

    Harry Potter. The Lord of the Rings. Books by Alan Garner. And it may seem kind of weird but I reread Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books. They are always non-stop action and Harry is always in terrible peril but I still find them comforting.

  18. Conversing with a friend one day, I asked her, "If you knew you had one year to live, would you read new books or re-read favorites?"
    She thought I was insane. Re-read?
    But, for me the thought of visiting old friends is comforting.
    I re-read "Little Women," "Gifts From the Sea," and poetry. I have a few childhood books -- my favorite was "The Little Lame Prince," which I re-read along with Alcott's "Jack and Jill."
    Love so many of the books mentioned today!

  19. Oh, Susan, no wonder we get along - Laurie Colwin is definitely my go-to ... her cooking books, but also Happy All the Time. I have given at least 50 copies of that book away over the years. Even my dad and husband loved it!!

    MFK Fisher also comforts me - her essay Borderland is one I revisit over and over. And thought it may sound strange, I constantly return to Joan Didion when I need some soothing, particularly her novel Democracy.

    And now my confession. I've never read Trixie Belden. I still have my entire original set of Nancy Drew, but it sounds like I have some catching up to do with all the Trixie fans here.

  20. Congratulations to Julia, Hank, and Rhys for their Agatha Award nominations! You Reds are racking up some serious nominations this year - wow!!!! (why do I feel like such a proud mom?)

    Re-reading. Yes! I am a re-reader from way back and often will re-read all the books in a series when a new one is due out.

    Books I re-read often include Pat Conroy's books, Laurie Colwin, Sarah Addison Allen. The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables.

    Eloise! (I adore Eloise).

    Two books that I find myself reading which, to me, embody hope and strength of soul are Laurie King's "Folly" and an oldie - Ann Fairbairn's "Five Smooth Stones."

    Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons.

    And oh yes - The Secret History. I really loved The Goldfinch, but I don't see myself re-reading it as I do The Secret History.

  21. I reread Little Women every couple of years around the holidays. I also love to go back to Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter.

    I also know I can count on my pal Linda Fairstein and her Alex Cooper books whenever I get in a reading funk. So much history in her books!

    Jackie :)

  22. The books I reread most often are like old friends. Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series - I've read each book at least 5 times? Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe books, the first three books (and the 3 YA books) in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, anything by Grace Burrowes. They are definitely comfort books.

  23. My favorite rereads are Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, The King's General, and Mary Anne. That was it for awhile and then I was introduced to Julia's In the Bleak Midwinter. I have reread that and all the others at least three times. Wonderful characters, humor, and sense of place.

    Congrats to Rhys, Hank and Julia, Agatha nominees!

  24. Oh, thanks everyone! xoxo

    Agree about The Secret History. Wonderful. And ground-brekaing ,remember--there weren't many books like that when it came out.

    And I have actually read Mark Helprin's Winters Tale several times, come to think of it! I fear the movie cannot come close..crossing fingers, though, because if it does, it will be fabulous.

  25. If I am in need of comfort I grab one of my grand children and read Peter Rabit to them (but its really for me!)

    I have so many books I love my friends get tired of me telling them I'm reading "the best" book.

    I did comment to a friend yesterday - another fellow reader - that I feel quite sad when I read an outstanding book on my Kindle and I can't share it with her. There is something quite magical when you hand a friend a much loved book!

  26. Barbara Pym - best comfort read ever!

  27. I love re-reading Dorothy Sayers books - reconnecting with Harriet and Lord Peter is like meeting up with old friends! TH White's "Once and Future King" and Mary Stewarts's Arthur/Merlin series are my fantasy favorites for re-reading. And I've read all of Deb Crombie's books 3 or 4 times - always discover something new in Duncan and Jemma's relationship! I read for the people in the books, primarily, but a good storyline is essential as well.

  28. If I LOVE a book - I definitely will re-read it

    I have Read Debs series 3 times and Elly Griffiths 3 times

    Also have re-read Marianne MacDonald's "Dido Hoare" series

    I've re-read Agatha and Dorothy over the years

    I have re-read these authors and many more

    Lesley Cookman
    C C Benison
    Andrea Frazer
    Kate Kingsbury

    And.......many others over the years

  29. A vociferous shout-out to Julia, Rhys, and Hank for their Agatha nominations!

    Next, in reference to rereads, I haven't gotten to do much of that in the last few years, but my favorite rereads include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Fahrenheit 451, Call of the Wild, Jane Eyre, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (by Stephen King), and Rebecca. The Harry Potter books are a special reread, as my son and I would read the previous book as the time approached for the new book to arrive.

    There are many books I'd love to reread, but it will be a while before I have time to do so. Those books definitely include the wonderful ones I've read by the Jungle Red authors. Other books I'd definitely like another crack at are Lori Lansen's The Girls, Pat Conroy's Beach Music, Connie Willis' Doomsday Book (and all her other time traveling historians books), all the Agatha Christies, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, all of Laurie R. King's Russell and Holmes books, all of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books, Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders and People of the Book (oh, and Caleb's Crossing, and on and on. I have many children's and young adult/teen books I would love to reread, too. Oh, to rediscover the Narnia books, The Westing Game, all of Blue Balliet's books and John Green's.

    I think the most comforting books for me have and always will be mysteries. Starting with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, moving to Agatha Christie, and then the explosion of so many wonderful mystery authors.

  30. Thank for all the good wishes, everyone!

    My favorite re-reads? Lois McMaster Bujold. I swear I've read every one of the Vorkosigan saga books at least six times. I find my pleasure increases with the anticipation of what's coming next.

    One thing I've noticed with my own children - kids naturally read and reread over and over again. But adults often don't. I wonder why that is?

  31. I reread the first 12 books in the Richard Jury series the first winter I moved to Montana. I have read "The Grapes of Wrath" a couple times. I want to reread Louise Penny's books this winter (which never seems to end here, 8 new inches of snow yesterday and today). Like someone said, it is kind of like visiting old friends and picking up on all the things you missed the first time.

  32. What fun to see so many of my favorites listed here...I was just speaking of the Betsy-Tacy series, the books that first hooked me on reading. Thanks, Deb Romano for mentioning Our Hearts Were Young and, loved that so many years ago and will need to revisit it soon. For me, Anne of Green Gables and Still Life are as cozy as a cup of Earl Grey on an overcast day.. To Kill A Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, A Hitchhiker's Guide...they're like old friends, to be enjoyed not just once. And since you mentioned Vickie Bliss, Deb, I have listened several times to old audio tapes of that series read by Kathleen Turner and she IS Vicki Bliss! I don't get people who don't re-read books... I equate that to having a really good friend that you only want to visit once.

  33. One of the interesting things about rereading books (especially a decade or more apart) is it actually becomes a new book — at least in my opinion. I think our experience reading is a collaboration with the author, so with age and experience we have different things to give an add -- making it an entirely different book. What do you think?

  34. Our Hearts were Young and Gay is my absolutely favorite comfort read. Even though it's re-read to the point of falling apart I still laugh until I cry.
    Also Dame Agatha is a comfort read for me, Gerald Durrell's animal books, Jane Austen and The Lord of the Rings

    And thank you for all the lovely messages about the Agatha nomination.

  35. My favorite books to reread (at least once every two years) are Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. I first read book 1 in preparation for my inaugural trip to San Francisco, and, just like MaryAnn Singleton, I fell in love with the city....if only I could pack up and move there like she did!

  36. I've read "Jane Emily" by Patricia Clapp every year since I was 12 and discovered it in my aunt's summer cottage on Cape Cod. Each time, I'm back in that cottage, on that rainy day, diving deeper and deeper into this gothic young adult romance. I can't wait until the weather warms and I pull it out for this year's reading!

  37. Comfort a younger person, I re-read the first three Trixie Belden novels over and over, and also The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snider was a favorite re-read. When I got older, and to the present, it's usually a Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters book. Anything in the Vicky Bliss series falls into comfort zone reading, as does the Georgetown trilogy. Also Joan Hess' Maggody series, James Heriott, and for some odd reason, Auntie Mame.

  38. Pride and prejudice is a huge one for me. But for years I would re-read agatha christies over and over. i found them to be the most comforting reading so right when i wanted to go to sleep i would pull one out and read to help me go to sleep. i have read all of them multiple times. it's one of the weirdest things my husband and i have in comon.

  39. April (HaveBooksNeedTime)January 30, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    I'm really trying to tackle the out-of-control TBR piles, but in my heart of hearts, I love to reread. Favorites include the Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and Harry Potter series, plus Jane Austen and Jack London. I had the first Trixie Belden book when I was young and about read it to pieces; I need to look into the rest of that series. And I've been meaning to revisit J.R.R. Tolkien, Sharon Kay Penman and Margaret Frazer as well. {{panics}}

  40. I recently reread The Hobbit with my eight year old son, then went on to reread the Lord of the Rings on my own. So much there that I missed as a teenager! Then I was just following the narrative, now there's so much more to ponder...

  41. I reread constantly - but the books depend on my mood. I know what books to choose depending on what frame of mind I want to get into - or out of! I particularly love long series, so that I can dive in at one end and stay immersed in the world for several books. Generally when a new book by a favorite author comes out I start at the beginning and read all the previous ones before reading the new title (made the wait for each Harry Potter book much more bearable!)
    Some favorites are David Eddings, the Little House books, Catherine Asaro, Jasper Fforde (books about living in books, what could be better??), Kage Baker, Connie Willis, Robert Crais, Neal Stephenson, Patricia Kennealy Morrison, Elizabeth Peters... I should stop now but I could go on!

    Right now I've just finished the double header of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey books and Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series, which I seem to always read together...

  42. I reread bunches. I cannot even begin to count how many times I've read A Wrinkle in Time. Most recently was when I read it aloud to my younger daughter, who loves it - even though it's a bit more mind stretching than most middle grade fiction.

  43. What a great conversation! I'm returning to make a list. When I saw the picture of Home Cooking my hands started waving involuntarily.

    Like many others my comfort reading is Colwin, Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Little House on the Prairie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth Gaskell, The Jane Austen Book Club, P.G. Wodehouse (anything with Jeeves and Bertie or the Blandings Castle crowd) East of Eden ( but years between and I can hardly bear Adam Trask.) Cold Comfort Farm, I Captured the Castle

    Now, I didn't see anyone mention a particular favorite and that's the Mapp and Lucia series by E.F. Benson. If you enjoy Austen, Pym and or Wodehouse you will love these. Set between the Wars and pure, delight. Frothy but smart. You're welcome.

  44. Most re-read: The Hobbit, A Year in Provence (a favorite in-flight read), P&P,anything by Miss Read. Among my fave authors: you Miss Susan Elia MacNeal, M.C. Beaton, Jacqueline Winspear, Alan Bradley, Elizabeth George. Common themes? Love a good DBB - dead body book.

    My brother has been a life-long technical reader but took up fiction a couple of years ago. He also loves a good DBB - Ian Rankin is a favorite. When I learned he was reading fiction I felt a whole new corner had been added to his life. Not enough apparently that he was already a musician, painter and a bit of a poet. ;-]

  45. I am not usually a re-reader, but Jane Austen's books (except Mansfield Park), JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, and Kathleen Flinn's The Sharper the Knife the Less You Cry are my comfort reads.

    Curling up with a good book is my nightly wind-down. Often during tough days, looking ahead to an evening of comfortable pajamas and reading has been a great comfort.

  46. LOVED Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcok and the Three Investigators... My granmother had her childhood books in her house and I read books from the 1920s - Ruth Fielding and the original Bobbsey Twins volumes. I loved Cherry Ames - I read and reread these books from ages 7 through my late teens. A few years ago, I found reprints of some of the Bobbsey Twins books and bought them, read them and shipped them to my sister. I bought my niece a set of four Nancy Drews (tried to find Trixie, no luck). My very first chapter book, which I bought with my own money at age seven was "The Bobbsey Twins Mystery in Japan" - to this day, I can save a goldfish that has leapt out of his bowl. Harlequins had me convinced that Australia was populated by tall, taciturn sheep station owners with piercing blue/gray/green eyes, and I still like to read the occasional Regency by an old favorite author. Comfort reads are English Cozy Mysteries and when I am really depressed, I pull out P.G. Wodehouse, in particular Eggs, Beans and Crumpets. All I have to do is start reading about the baby contest and I am laughing out loud - Wodehouse dragged me out of an abyss in the aftermath of 9/11...better than drugs, or booze or even shrinks(also less costly)

  47. Oh, wow, Elizabeth Peters. I am so sad that there will be no more Amelia Peabody or Vicky Bliss - I reread every one of them. I have all the Amelias in hardcover...I love the series books - mention was made of Sue Grafton and Martha Grimes - who is more fun than Melrose Plant? I love Anne Perry's books. I love Rhys Bowen's books and Susan Elia MacNeil's books. I am reading the latest Donna Leon, I have the latest Linda Fairstein backing up - as well as Alex Cross's latest cases. The people in these books are part of a world that I visit - a vacation resort to which I return regularly to see old friends and find out what's new with their lives. I laugh with them, cry with them worry with them, get angry with them. The best part is that in this world, there is always a measure of justice. When these authors release new books, I preorder them and use them as rewards. I used to have to wait until the book was delivered on the release date - but now, it just shows up on my Nook shelf.

  48. More comments, more beloved books - Agatha, MS Sayers, Margery Allingham - I read so many novelizations of the Arthurian legend...Stephen Lawhead, TH White, Mary Stewart, Patricia Kenneally... I have at least seventy five books. Guy Gavriel Kay incorporated it into his Fionavar Tapestry, a trilogy which also has echoes of other cultural myths and is so beautifully and poignantly written that every time I reread them, I still cry so hard at the sad bits that I cannot see the words. I made all of my reading friends read it, even those who do not like romance or fantasy.

  49. Debs, I think we must be sisters separated at birth! I read a d re-read Dick Francis, Elizabeth Peters and Georgette Heyerdahl till I can practically recite them. I passed all my childhood Trixie Belden books to my youngest daughter and she re-reads them and Dick Francis over and over. Also, I must have an annual read of Jane Eyre without fail.

  50. I really don't reread much, but the two I pick up when I need something comforting are Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and Voyager. The first story, of course, and the third, because I love the scene when they meet again. I've read them so many times they are old friends.

    The other book I keep intending to reread (but still haven't) is Between Silk and Cyanide, by Leo Marks. It's the true account of his efforts to improve codemaking techniques for British spies during World War II. (The title comes from his request for silk so the operatives could keep a set of code keys. They were to tear off the used ones to keep them from falling into enemy hands. Without silk, Marks said, the only alternative was cyanide.)

  51. I hate autocorrect! Georgette Heyerdahl? Boo! I also re-read all The Lord Peter books every year. Dorothy Sayers is hard to beat. I am almost as hooked now on Molly Murphy and Lady Georgie!

  52. April (HaveBooksNeedTime)January 31, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    It's encouraging to see Georgette Heyer[dahl ;)] come up twice, since those are the books I'm currently reading (for the first time). B&N had all her nook books on sale a while back and I splurged!

  53. I love books that I can dive into and escape from reality! My comfort books are the fictional ones set in WW2 with spies & code breaking etc.
    A book is always better when accompanied by some good food or drink....or both!

  54. I, too, a fan of Barbara Pym and hope to visit her grave, if back in that vicinity one day. No Fond Return of Love my favorite.

    Don't often reread, but The Shipping News I would enjoy again.

    Secret Garden I've reread since a girl.

  55. I always turn to D.E. Stevenson's work when I need a comfort read. I've been doing this since the late 60s when she was still alive and writing. I also often turn to a good mystery as I think she did also. I'm so glad I just heard about this blog!

  56. Congrats to the Agatha-nominated Reds! No surprises there! I'm with the camp who can't understand why people don't re-read. Moving over the years, I've pared down my books to absolute favorites--all to be enjoyed over and over.

    Reine--Harry Potter is comforting--because the writing is so good--the world and characters so vivid. Before Harry? The Belgariad. As a kid, Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series. Other favorites: Martha Grimes' The Old Silent, Barbara Michaels' Vanish with the Rose, Katherine Howe's The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane. Christie's Miss Marple, Sayers. My all-time favorite: The Blue Sword.

  57. I definitely reread for comfort. A lot. Anything from childhood favorites to fantasy, mysteries, and romance. One of my top comfort books is Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity's Death. Also Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novels, especially The Beekeeper's Apprentice. And The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Susan Cooper, Tamora Pierce, Madeleine L'Engle, the Narnia books, Anne McCaffrey, Tolkien, David Eddings, the Harry Potter books, Dick Francis, Ngaio Marsh, Ellis Peters, Mary Stewart, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mary Balogh... the list goes on and on. I won't be surprised to see Deborah and Rhys on it in a few years - once I get through everything they've written for the first time!

    In particularly tough years, I've done at least twice as much re-reading as new reading. I got into the habit as a child, when I didn't get many new books and library trips weren't frequent enough to support my habit. But there's something very comforting and relaxing in reading a book you know well.

  58. C.S. Lewis is a biggie, though I know the books by heart, and Patricia Wentworth is always a comfort, as are Agatha C. and Ngaio Marsh. All often read and well loved.

  59. Just checked all the responses since late yesterday afternoon, and I see that many of my favorites that I forgot to mention are listed here by others! How great it is to find that so many of us have had a love of the same books long before we "met" each other here!