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!