Whenever the world feels particularly cruel, when the news cycle is at its harshest, people often turn to novels for comfort or escape. It’s not a bad way to show yourself some kindness. Many years ago I suffered an early miscarriage and stayed in bed for days reading The Chronicles of Narnia.
Although I’m a reader, television tends to be my go-to escape when I’m feeling low. The problem with this is that when the news is tough, I tend to watch and read about it obsessively on my computer screen. Getting away from electronics and moving to paper is usually a healthy move.
I was interested in a recent Twitter thread in which people were sharing their favorite comfort books. As it turns out, people don’t just turn to light reads like humor or cozy mysteries when things look bleak. What we’re often wanting is to return to a well-loved favorite or a book from childhood. Even a hard-boiled detective novel or epic fantasy can appeal if it’s escapist enough.
I copied down many of the titles from that thread (especially ones that got multiple endorsements) and added a few of my own. If you’re needing a break from the real world, one of these books might appeal to you:
The books of P.G. Wodehouse
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Wodehouse-ish, I hear)
The books of Terry Pratchett
The books of Agatha Christie
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
Georgette Heyer’s regency romances
Robertson Davies’ Salterton trilogy
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
The Burglar/Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Lawrence Block
A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
The books of Christopher Moore
Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe Mysteries
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy toole
Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries
The books of Bill Bryson
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy
(Writers, you might want to scroll back up and check out that P.G. Wodehouse link. He’s a writer whose sentences you might want to study.)
Have you turned to novels for comfort or escape? Feel free to leave a book rec. in the comments.