Is there a book in your life that you’ve read too many times to count? One that you turn to in times of strife, or when you need a break from a heavier topic, to cheer you up, or calm you down? A book that might not necessarily have won any awards, but is still a home run in your heart? If you answered yes to any or all of these three questions, you are lucky enough to have found what I refer to as a comfort book.

There’s no defined type of comfort book- it can be any size, shape, or colour, and be about everything from astronauts to deep-sea creatures. What really makes a comfort book a comfort book is the way it makes you feel when you read it, or even when simply holding it in your hand. When I read my comfort books after having a bad day, or a nightmare, I instantly feel safe and happy. The worries and frustrations melt away as I absorb the words on the page. In a way, my comfort books are more of a security blanket for me than anything else.

After turning to one of my comfort books earlier this month, I finally realized just how much I valued being able to have them in my life. And I also realized that during stressful and emotional times like these, comfort books would be a perfect topic for a blog post.

Today, I am going to introduce you to the two predominant comfort books I’ve had in my life: the ones that will forever remain imprinted on my heart, and were always there for me when I needed them.

Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson(also published as Monster Mission)

To tell you the truth, I honestly can’t remember when I first got this book, or why it became a comfort book for me. It certainly wasn’t one I read much in daylight, but for some inexplicable reason was the only one I would read after having a bad dream. The downside of that was if I woke up around 2:00 in the morning, I’d stay up until at least 3:30 because even though I felt better, I’d become too engrossed in the story to stop reading it. But hey, you know a book’s good when you can’t put it down! Maybe if I give you a summary of the book, you’ll see why I liked it so much.

On an island forgotten by all but a few lived three elderly sisters. As the inhabitants of the island, it fell to them to take care of the various magical creatures that washed up on their shore. But the sisters were getting older, and replacements weren’t exactly easy to come by on the island. So, these sisters, who’d never intentionally hurt a fly, knew that they had to do something a bit drastic to find replacements: “choose”(kidnap) children from the mainland. Only children whose parents didn’t particularly want them, mind you, but they were to be snatched just the same. That was how three children came to find themselves on the island. Two, Minette and Fabio, were perfectly lovely children who came to love the island, its creatures, and the three sisters. But the third, Lambert, had only been brought out of guilt, and was an exceedingly nasty boy. After making contact with his father on his mobile telephone, who knows what misfortune could befall the island if the rescuers, and other outsiders, were to find it?

Despite some of the strange concepts, I truly loved this book. Not only for the interesting plot, and strong characters, but also for the fantasy element of the story. My guess is that by diving into the world of make-believe, it was easier for my brain to believe that the bad dream had only been make-believe, too. Trust me when I say that getting rid of this book is one of the biggest regrets of my life, and I feel a longing for Island of the Aunts even now. But maybe my getting rid of it simply meant that I was changing, and a new comfort book was in order.

I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman:

I foolishly got rid of Island of the Aunts during a period where I had peaceful sleeps, and few nightmares. But when the bad dreams came back, this time I looked for a book that I knew would make me laugh.

After being sent to summer camp on Algonkian Island, Rudy Miller vows to find a way to escape. Why? He hates summer camp! With the help of his new friend Mike, Rudy tries again and again to sneak off the island, but his counsellors foil his plots every time. As a result, some very odd and hilarious events take place at camp, giving everything a real shake-up. One thing’s for certain: summer camp will never be the same when Rudy’s around!

Normally, I won’t physically react to whatever happens in a book. I’ll cry the odd time(I’m looking at you, The Fault In Our Stars and Trials of Apollo: The Tyrant’s Tomb!), but I will very rarely laugh, or even smile, when I’m reading. However, this book completely shatters that mold. To date, it’s the only book that has not only made me laugh out loud once, but will consistently make me laugh and smile whenever I re-read it. That’s how funny this book is! On the surface, it may sound like it’s about a bratty kid who refuses to let himself have fun at camp. But Rudy is no brat, and expresses his dislike towards camp with well-crafted one-liners, witty remarks, and pranks. These, coupled with the fact that Rudy’s actually an incredibly gifted athlete who’s trying to hide his ability, makes for a rollicking good time. You’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear as you read about Rudy’s exploits, and his counsellors’ reactions to them! When I’m in a bad mood, I can attest to the fact that laughter truly is the best medicine, as long as the laughter isn’t directed at you. That’s an essential quality for a comfort book, and it’s the reason why I Want To Go Home has become my latest one.

Upon conferring with my family, I’ve discovered that I am the only one in the family who has “comfort books”. My mom has a “comfort tv-show”(The Office), but that’s about as close as it gets. So maybe the idea of a comfort book is a concept only known to me. I don’t really mind that, though. As long as my comfort books are a guaranteed way to improve my mood, and the only dangers associated with them are paper cuts and eye strain, that’s all I really need.

Do you have any comfort books? If not, what is your go-to comfort food, movie, or activity? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Published by macinnla12

I love to read! Through this blog, I will show my passion of reading by recommending books, authors, and book-related things to you. I will also occasionally post short stories that I have written.

Join the Conversation

11 Comments

  1. Leah, another articulate, lovely and insightful post from you. I’m feeling a bit disappointed that I can’t think of any books that provide me comfort in the same way that the marvelous books you’ve noted bring to you. I’m going to have to ponder this! I think for the most part, when I am nervous, overwhelmed, sad, I turn to music.

    I hope you are enjoying the summer!

    Jo-Anne

    Like

    1. I think that music is a wonderful way to relieve stress! As long as it makes you feel happy, calm, and safe, it doesn’t matter what you use as long as it isn’t harmful. I tend to turn to music quite a lot, too. Is there a certain song, album, or artist that you listen to, or is it just music in general?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you mentioned ‘safe’ as that is the key. When all the emotions are rising and falling, having a safe place in our lives is what we all need and that continues all through life.

        I love all kinds of music, jazz, pop, folk and classical. But when I need comfort, I look towards classical music. The two pieces that help me: St Saen’s The Swan and Schubert’s Impromtu #3. Each in their own way, I think, sum up the journey of life and can help bring a heart out of darkness.

        For less stressful times, when I just want and need to smile and feel the ‘feels’ as they say, I listen to Van Morrison, James Taylor and Paul Simon. (all songs from the 70s and 80s).

        Thank you for asking, Leah! I’m glad to share that music with you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I adore this post. When I was younger, I’d frequently read Kit Pearson’s ‘A Handful of Time’ and imagine what it would be like to time travel into the 50’s. Now I turn to magazines. Articles are quick reads and often inspire me to cook or create something new. Thank you for this moment of reflection.

    Like

    1. You’re very welcome! I love time travel books, too. Although comfort books weren’t exactly a thing for me yet, when I was about 6 or 7 I would frequently re-read the Magic Treehouse series(about siblings who travel throughout time via a treehouse.) to improve my mood.
      I certainly enjoy reading magazine articles, too. Like you said, they’re short, but can really inspire you to learn more about a topic. Just the other day I was reading the Legion magazine, and discovered that there had been a second Halifax Explosion, albeit on a much smaller scale, in 1945. Being the Halifax Explosion history buff I was, I thought I knew everything about the disaster, but a single magazine article proved me wrong! I never know what I’ll discover in a magazine.
      Thank you for sharing your comfort reads!

      Like

  3. Leah! I love reading your posts. This one helped me feel not so alone in my obsession with my “comfort books” ; they are: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, Moonfleet by J. Meade Faulkner, Dragonslayers by Bruce Colville and more recently the Harry Potter series. I think it’s important to have such wonderful places to visit in troubled times. J.R.R. Tolkein wrote an essay about this phenomenon called “On Recovery”. If you can find it, I think you would enjoy reading his take on your idea. When I was a teenager I read a lot, listened to a lot of music and did a lot of sewing. I was so happy when I found that writing stories was a thing. I am really happy that you have found writing stories to be a thing because I enjoy reading your work so much. Thanks for sharing such insightful thoughts with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your comfort books! I haven’t read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in a while, but I quite enjoyed it when I was younger, and I think I’ll give it another go now. I’ll check out some of the other books you listed, too. I’m glad that you have so many in your life to turn to!
      Frankly, almost any book can be a comfort book for me, so you’re definitely not alone in your obsession with them!. Sure, I have my go-tos, but there are hundreds of other books I have that I’ll read for the sentimental value, and the warm feelings they invoke. The Titanic Trilogy by Gordon Korman would be one, and the works of Roald Dahl another.
      Thanks for recommending the J.R.R Tolkien essay! I am certainly excited to read it, and learn more about this phenomenon that so many of us experience, but all in different ways.

      Like

  4. I’ve read I Want to Go Home many times to my students, but Island of the Aunts is a new one to me. I’ll watch for it! I’d like to recommend When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, if you haven’t already come across it. I love the world that it evokes (retro!), and the interesting plot twists. It is a joy to read your comments, Leah. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment! I had not heard of When You Reach Me, but I looked up the synopsis and it sounds very intriguing. I’ll definitely be trying to find a copy of it!

      Like

  5. Hi Leah,

    We hope you and your family continue to be well.
    We really enjoyed this blog.
    Thanks for introducing us to these books and your thoughts as to why you like them.

    James and Heather

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: