I was thinking about this earlier today. I have lots of books that I’ve pretty much memorised: they’re the reading equivalent of comfort food. Depending on my mood, (for example, out of my long list of constantly re-read books) I’ll pick up any Robin McKinley, the Recluce series, The Fiery Cross, or any Chaim Potok novel, flip it open randomly, and read a few chapters.
It’s like having a warm bath, although if it’s My Name Is Asher Lev, it may be like having a warm bath laced with artistic melancholia and painful familial relations.
What do you read when you’re too tired to read something new, or want to be briefly distracted, or just want something familiar?
The Resident Evil book series, by S.D Perry. She’s not a great writer, and the books are kinda formulaic, but they’re easy enough that I can get through one in a couple of hours, and don’t have to think about it. Plus, zombies.
My other go-to books are Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.
Any Robin McKinley except for Deerskin, The Hobbit, or The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy.
I love Deerskin, but it’s hardly comforting.
Clive James’s TV crits (originally in the Guardian) from the 70-80s. Letters and essays by CS Lewis. Like having a refreshing shower.
Lonesome Dove. It’s my vote for The Great American Novel. Enders Game and Snow Crash are fave rereads as well.
The Final Encyclopedia, by Gordon Dickson. Yea, I’m weird, but I love it.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem, any of the stories
The chapters of the first Harry Potter book when he finds out he’s a wizard, shops in Diagon Alley, and arrives at Hogwarts
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Our Mutual Friend, David Copperfield, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
For electric bliss:
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
The Tripods Trilogy, by John Christopher.
Anything by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine.
Or there’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman - that always uplifts. Suprising choice I know.
The Pickwick Papers always puts me in a good mood.
Curiously enough, I find that reading an Atlas of Anatomy good calming-down/just-before-sleep reading. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - nothing soothes like the Islets of Langerhans.
I just read the first one and I have the others at home. I’m enjoying them very much.
For comfort: Gone With the Wind (because I pretty much have it memorized), Watership Down, The Shining, and Jane Eyre.
I’d give it my vote too. It’s way more than a “western”, although there’s nothing wrong with westerns.
My comfort read lately has been Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. It’s violent and challenging and full of incredible characters, sorta like Lonesome Dove, if Lonesome Dove were epic fantasy. I’m about to read it for the third time this year.
Stephen King’s It. Or The Stand.
Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, Gabaldon’s Outlander (though I often skip right to Claire’s first meeting with Jack Randall and go from there), any of the numerous Nancy Drews I have hidden at the bottom of my bookcase, or Eddings’ Belgariad series. Things I almost know by heart, but never get tired of.
I will second Lonesome Dove as a constant re-read for me, along with Dead Man’s Walk - which is just as good, if not a little better. Gus & BigFoot Wallace are two characters that I think about often when I’m not reading about them.
For some reason, I always come back to The Godfather - I can’t explain why.
Most of Jane Austen’s work- I think Persuasion is just beautiful and never get tired of it- I identify alot with the main character, more than the other Austen heroines.
Irvine Welsh’s work is probably the best for just picking up and reading bits of it- who needs a clear story when you have gorgeous language- even if the characters are pretty much the dregs of society?
An old standby would be anything written by Taylor Caldwell - she wrote interesting stories, often historical with this kind of moral light on things. Her book, Melissa is one of my favorite’s.
Stephen King is just so readable- I go back to him when I’m missing Stu Redman, Andy Dufresne, or even Annie Bates & Pennywise.
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar novels, and John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels.
Not really on topic, but I’m really glad somebody still likes these. I loved this series when I was a kid. Probably to get back on topic, I should read it again, for old times’ sake.
Seconded. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now-I’m in the middle of Winds of Fury, book three of the Mage Winds trilogy.
Star Wars: X-Wing series, especially the ones by Aaron Allston
The Anita Blake : Vampire Hunter series.
David Eddings Belgariad/Malloreon/Elenium/Tamuli.
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books.
The Mile Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Honor Harrington series, Starfire series and 5th Imperium trilogy by David Weber.
Belisarius series by David Drake and Eric Flint.
1632 by Eric Flint.
Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon.
Spellsong seris by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Amber books by Roger Zelzany.
Hawk and Fisher books by Simon Green.
Blod series by Tanya Huff.Garret series by Glen Cook.
Just about anything by Kurt Vonnegut, but especially The Sirens of Titan.
HP Lovecraft always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. The horror stories, not the dream crap.
Occasionally I run through a string of Saki short stories, or maybe his The Unbearable Bassington.
I guess I get comfort by being reassured that I’m not the only person who thinks the world is a nut house.