This post is for Smithereens, who commented on a recent post about angry books. I feel like I owe her this list of books I read when I feel the need to read something gentle, funny, comforting, or sweet:
Persuasion, by Jane Austen
This is the loveliest book I’ve ever read. I identified so strongly with Anne Elliot that I felt like Captain Wentworth was proposing to me (probably as intended) with his beautifully written letter. This book is a warm bath on a cold day.
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
There was a year when I was in junior high when I read this book on a loop. There are parts of it that are problematic and that Verne would not be able to get away with in this century, but I learned when I re-read the book a while ago that it is still a cracking good story. I take comfort in the fact that this novel can still deliver.
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This is one of my favorite books. I love everything about it, even though I’ve read it a bajillion times. I still laugh at the jokes and tend to pick it up when I desperately need a chuckle.
I know that these books are not particularly gentle—they’re downright brutal at times—but I’ve read the first three books in the Outlander series so often that I know them well enough to skip the hard-to-read bits. When I need some comforting, I can dip back into these books and read just my favorite scenes with Jamie and Claire, when they laugh together or do thoughtful things for each other.
Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
This is another funny (very, very funny) book that I love and frequently recommend. The book contains Brosh’s struggle with depression, but she finds her way though to recovery. Mostly, though, I love this book because of her cock-eyed view of the world and all the hilarious things that happen to her.
I struggled to put this list together. When I reviewed by books-I-have-read list on Goodreads, I noted that most of the books I give high ratings to are pretty emotionally fraught or weird in some way or other. Or the books I remember loving are either meant for young teens. Or that I read so long ago I forgot what it was that I loved about them beyond a certain warm fuzziness. Anyhoo, these are the most comforting books I was able to glean from the miles of pages I can remember reading.