Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.
What do you read?
For me, comfort reading, like comfort food, involves things that invoke a cozy setting, and have descriptions of either food or clothing, or are somehow familiar – a favorite author, for example.
Madeleine L’Engle’s works A Live Coal in the Sea and Certain Women are comfort books for me. Laurell K. Hamilton’s work, as much as I love it, is not. Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary mysteries, the really early Nero Wolfe and The Cat Who… books, and almost anything by Maeve Binchy or Marian Keyes qualify as well.
Possibly my favorite ever comfort novel, though, is a book called Mothers, by Jax Peters Lowell that I picked up ages ago, decades even, and fell in love with it. It’s about Claire, a photographer, and Theo, a caterer, both young women who identified as straight, who fall in love, and eventually manage to have a son using artificial insemination. It’s a candid account of two women falling in love in the 60’s and 70’s in New York, and it has food and photography and sweet domestic moments, and a trip out to the beach – all my favorite things – but what I like about it most is that it isn’t a gay novel or a straight novel. It’s just the story of a family who love each other.
What could be more comforting than that?