Comfort Reads for Troubled Times

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Comfort Reads for Troubled Times

So lately the term “self-care” has been very popular.  (I can’t imagine why that could be.)  The library is here for you in many ways.  We have yoga and meditation classes.  We have quiet and comfy chairs.  My colleague Reza S. has some non-fiction recommendations for you.  
 
What I want to talk about is something more personal: comfort reads.  The books that you go to when things are at their worst.  I know that if you are reading this you probably already have your own comfort read.  However, I did a general survey (i.e. I asked some friends on Facebook) and the same basic categories kept coming up.  So, this is what I’m suggesting: find the category that best describes your favorite comfort read, and pick a book that you haven’t read and give it a try.  It’s always good to have another comforting book on hand.   Plus, if it’s new to you, you get the extra bonus of it being distracting.  (It’s hard to get swept up in a book that you’ve read 75 times.)  
 
Also, and this is important, if, at any point, the book reminds you of a thing that upset you in the first place, put it down and pick up another one.  If, at any point, you find yourself thinking too hard, put it down and pick up another one.  What we’re looking for here is a novel equivalent of a plate of mashed potatoes.  Not something that I would recommend for every day, but something you can indulge in if you really need it.   
 
Then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back out there.  The library will be there to help you with that too.
 
Comic novels
This one is pretty obvious.  Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams are both hilarious novels with strong plots. (Strong plots can be rare in the world of comic novels.)  The jokes in Hitchhikers Guide are dry and come at you fast, so there are jokes you don’t catch until the 3rd or 4th re-read.  Both Bridget Jones and Hitchhikers Guide have plenty of sequels, too so you won’t run out of reading material any time soon.  (Although please keep in mind that the quality of both series goes downhill after a bit.)
 
The works of Terry Pratchett and Tom Robbins were also suggested, and it will take you a while to get through these as well. 
 
Jane Austen and Regency romances
Okay, so the Regency period took place during 1811-1820.  Jane Austen wrote during this time.  Obviously, many writers were inspired by Austen’s writing and the world it took place in.  (Many readers like it too, since Regency romances and Jane Austen came up as suggestions a lot.)  Georgette Heyer was the queen of the regency romance in the first half of the 20th century, and Julia Quinn, Amanda Quick and Mary Balogh are some of the big writers working in the genre today. 
 
Children’s classics
Never got a chance to get to all of the Anne of Green Gables books?  Better late than never.  A lot of people suggested classic children’s books.  The Hobbit, The Harry Potter series, The Oz books, Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet…whatever you wanted to read as a kid but never got around to.  Harry Potter pretty much obliterated the line that kept adults from reading children’s fiction, so don’t be afraid to read it on the Metro too. 
 
Cozy mysteries
Cozy mysteries are mysteries where the violence is toned down, it (usually) takes place in a small community, the detective is (usually) an amateur and often a woman.  Think Murder She Wrote if you don’t subscribe to the “Jessica Fletcher was the murderer all along” theory. 
 
Classic mysteries by Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie fit the bill nicely.  Louise Penny was mentioned as well, but there is some debate in the mystery community whether her books count as cozies or not.  So I guess look into that first if that’s something that concerns you. 

OR
 
Post-Apocalyptic novels
It might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes it helps to throw yourself hard in the opposite direction.  There is a comfort to be found in the idea that, even though the world falls apart, humankind can still persevere.  Books like Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, Station Eleven, Canticle for Leibowitz, and even The Stand and The Road offer some slight hope that humanity can re-build no matter what.  Just be prepared to read some rough stuff before you get there.