Friday, October 14, 2005

Comfort reads

A few posts back I talked about books that you can't ever finish--literary bete noirs, like Ulysses or Moby Dick or whatever. Today I was sorting through some boxes of books, looking for a research book but also wasting time re-reading stuff, looking at pictures in art books, just generally wasting time, and I started wondering--what are some books that are the OPPOSITE for you? Books you return to time and again?

Here are just a few of mine (and no, I'm not counting Hello Kitty Everywhere--that one just sits on the coffee table. I especially like the pic of Hello Kitty at the Eiffel Tower in her pink beret):

Middlemarch--it's sort of like going to a family holiday. I know everyone there, am comfortable in the surroundings, and I love those darned relatives, even if I sometimes want to strangle them for being eejits. I always hope Dorothea won't marry Casaubon, but she always does, the silly girl.

PG Wodehouse stories--these always cheer me up! I go back to favorite Jeeves and Wooster stories all the time, especially the one about the disputed cow creamer, or any time Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeline Bassett have a bust-up and Madeline decides she'll make Bertie "happy" and marry him. Of course, I can't read them any more without picturing Stephen Frey and Dr. House, er, Hugh Laurie, in the roles.

Jane Eyre--though I usually skip the dull bits set in the Rivers' house. I like the weird Gothicism of the nasty school and the wife in the attic. I also like it that Jane is short, but still gets the guy (for obvious reasons).

Childhood favorites, like Little Women (I wanted to be like Jo, like most girls, but I wanted Amy's clothes and was appalled that Jo had to wear a dress with a scorch mark on the butt to the ball). I also like the Anne of Green Gables series, because I was also a very dreamy and sort of annoying girl like Anne, but one of my favorites is Rilla of Ingleside, the story of Anne's daughter's coming-of-age during WWI. And I Capture the Castle--I really wanted an eccentric family like that.

And, of course, anything by Austen. Those books have gotten me through a lot. The Dashwood sisters, Darcy and Lizzie, Emma and her annoying-yet-endearing smugness, Catherine Morland and her wild imagination, Anne and her long-lost captain, even poor Fannie Price--they're all old friends by now.

So, what are some of your favorite re-reads? What draws you back to them time and again?


TerryTen said...
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Joe Powel said...
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Abundant Universe said...
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Willie B. said...
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Kelli McBride said...

Ditto on the Anne of Green Gables books and Jane Eyre.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Julius Caeser and Macbeth. Sometimes, I pick up my Riverside Shakespeare, and simply read the plays aloud to myself - especially the great soliloquys like "She sate like patience on a monument, smiling at grief." God, I love that speech.

I reread Tennyson a lot - Ulysses especially("To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield").

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker Trilogy.

C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia - especially Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Prince Caspian, and A Horse and his Boy.

Raymond E. Feist: Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon

Matt Getty said...

I've never been a huge Hemmingway fan, but something about reading The Sun Also Rises has always been comforting. Just spedning time with those characters traipsing through Europe . . . Sure there's a lot of darkness to the whole thing, but it's still always been an effective get away for me.

Megan Frampton said...


With my TBR pile the way it is, I honestly don't re-read much. But if and when I do, it's the most heartrending Baloghs (Notorious Rake), Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, Austen, natch. And usually it's just my favorite passages.

Bernita said...

The "Anne" Books, especially "Rilla", too, and the Narnia series, along with the Lloyd Alexander's "Taran Wanderer" series. Also, H. Rider Haggard,Oppenheim, Kipling, Joseph C. Lincoln, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, David Eddings, and Guy Gavriel Kay. You can see what I tend toward.