The topic of “comfort books” was listed on a site which I don’t remember at the moment. However, I found the concept interesting so I’ll take a shot at it.
Books that are well written leave readers with a lasting connection and nostalgic memories long after the books has been read. For some these books can be read over and over and over and over again. I am not one of those persons.
I’m just a little too…emotionally-centred.
When I was about ten years old I read Poor Little Rich Girl by Katie Flynn. It was a book I felt safe with. It was a safe haven for me. It covers being loved as child to being loved as a woman without any indecency. It tackled disappointment, hope, determination. It compared a family that worked and one that didn’t. To make it even better, the story was set in England. I’ve always wanted to go there and this book took me to various parts of it. For years I wished to reread the book to get that enjoy the feelings I’d had the first time.
Several years later, I began rereading it, the same copy from my first read. I didn’t make it to half of the book, or a quarter, or an eighth, or the second page. The writing, based on my memory, was still up to par. However, I had changed. First of all there were my expectations. I was read for mind-blowing stuff from the start. Second, but still very important, was my mood. Just as in writing, my reading depends heavily on my mood.
To write or read I must be at a certain level of calm. However, writing on a specific emotion requires for the emotion to be conjured. I believe that no emotion can be conjured twice. You can be sad multiple times but you won’t feel the exact sadness you felt before because you firstly have experience that class and possibly the same height of emotion before, so your expectancies of the emotion changes how you experience it, and therein the exact state of the emotion changes.
When I attempted to reread A Poor Little Rich Girl I was met with this dilemma. Firstly, I was anticipating the emotion. Secondly, I had already experienced the book and the emotions I felt the first time could not be duplicated. This doesn’t mean that I can’t reread a book. It just means I won’t unless the first reading was mediocre, or worst, or if I was unable to grasp the message it was delivering.
So what about comfort books?
The term “comfort books” much like comfort food refers to the re-use of the particular thing in times of your down period. For me, it’s better to speak of my comfort genre. And that is much easier to answer. My mind is soothed whenever I have a decently written thriller, suspense, or detective novel. Of course this means that my mind is turning over and chasing clues, and therefore quite busy which is exactly what I like. These books ability to completely engage me emotionally while keeping me intellectually invested in the stories is super. And that experience is the peak of my comfort.
Novels in the mentioned genres allow a reader to have a heated argument with the author while the investigation is ongoing. Oddly enough this is why I don’t fancy the Sherlock Holmes series. I was never able to pick up on clues that were mysteriously revealed later. It always felt as though the writer was trying t rub in my face how much better Sherlock was than me. But I read to test and stretch my mental faculties (that’s my comfort), so that just doesn’t get me. When reading I occasionally put the book down for a few moments to align my ducks, and ensure that I’ve assessed them properly. This is for novels with a large pool of suspects and/or extreme twists.
What are you comfort books/genres?