For me, comfort books must tell happy stories, or at least stories with happy endings. They must feel sweet on my tongue and fill me with a sense of peace and stillness, like sunshine on my face on a bright summer day. They can be quiet books, or they can be full of adventures. Not all of my favourite books are comfort books, but mosts of my comfort reads are favourites of mine. I guess it migh not be surprising to some that the majority of my most comforting books are children books.
I've always been fond of children literature, and maybe it's the innocence and the joy that permeates their stories, or the nostalgia they evoke in me (even though I didn't read some of them before I was an adult), but they always find a way inside of me, this place in my heart that needs mending somehow. Even when it's just for a little while.
Here is the first part of my comfort read list containning some of my most comforting and beloved children books and stories:
It's hard for me to say why this is not only one of my comfort reads, if not the most comforting book for me, but also one of my very favourite. It's the innocence, and the happiness that fills the different stories. It's the little characters that I cherish and that make me smile. It's the way it transports me to The Hundred Acre Wood, a most perfect place for picnics, and games by the river. It's like a lazy afternoon lying on the grass, a hot cup of tea in winter, the pleasure of talking with friends and of knowing you are not alone. Plus, they are really funny.
This is just a charming, fun, enjoyable tale. Four adorable, different, strong-minded sisters, a charming boy, a silly big dog, a bull, two rabbits, a dad obsessed with plants, and an incredible summer. I find that a lot of my comfort reads take place during Summer. Funny, because it is probably my least favourite season due to the fact that I feel like melting into a puddle of my own sweat for 2 to 3 months every year. But summer is still this magical time, as a child, where there are no school, no jobs, just days spent playing with friends, at the park, in the pool, and trips to the beach, or the countryside. And this book reflects that perfectly, through characters that are silly and fun, but still heartfelt and real.
I must admit that the comfort I get form this boot has as much to do with the book than with the 1993 movie. I like to say that Mary Lennox is my favourite of all Marys, and it's true. I love her like a friend and like a little sister. Dickon was my first literary/movie crush, and to this day I cannot resist a gardening boy, or a boy that works with animals, in books. I never much cared about Colin, but I certainly cared about the garden. I am not sure if my love for gardens, and garden tales come from this book, or if I love this book because I love gardens, but no matter. All I know is that going back to Mary, Dickon, the Secret Garden and Misselthwaite Manor is all I need to brighten my day. It has its own special kind of magic.
Here is one comforting book that I actually do not re-read. This book would also make the list of "Books that changed my life" and "Characters (Anne Shirley) that changed my life". My mom made me borrow this book from the library when I was about 7, and was looking for big books to read by myself. I like to think I read it in a day, but it probably took me a few. It so changed the way I saw books, stories and storytelling, and Anne made the biggest impact on my life, no other character has ever been able to touch me so much To this day I still consider her a best friend (or should I say we are bosom friends). I haven't really re-read this book since my early teens, so scared I am to break the magic it has over me. So afraid to find faults where I thought there were none. But the thought of it is comforting to me. The thought of how it moved me and how it made me feel, as a little girl, like I wasn't alone, like it was okay for me to be the way I am, automatically brightens my heart.
Other honorable mentions:
- Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie
- A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Alice in wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll
- The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende