Comfort Reads

by | March 28, 2014 | General | 1 comment

I came across
“comfort reading” while surfing the web. I have done this on numerous
occasions, but I didn’t know there was a term for it. According to Sarah
Wendell at Kirkus Reviews, comfort
are “a specific type of re-reading.
Comfort reads are those books that are the reading equivalent of your favorite
pajamas, the most fuzzy blanket, the familiar recipe, warm beverages, and
everything that makes your body feel cared for and, well, comforted. Books that
inspire that same feeling of being cared for are what I call comfort reads, and
each reader’s comfort read list is a little different.”

I not
only comfort read, I comfort watch movies such as “Under The Tuscan
Sun”, “Sirens”, and “Half Light”. I used to comfort
game but I’m not into gaming anymore. When I did, I most often played the
original “The Sims”, games in the Myst universe, and Tomb Raider 2.
The key was the repetition. I found solace in the familiar.

comfort read when I’ve had an especially trying time with life. Within the last
two weeks, my computer broke down and the shower wall caved in. I kid you not.
It has not been a fun time around here. The shower wall is temporarily fixed but it needs to be permanently replaced. I had to completely wipe my hard drive
clean and start over again from scratch. The computer is fine now but I went without
quite a bit for a little over a week. So, the time I normally spent online I
spent reading and watching movies. There are several books I comfort read over
and over again when I just want to sit back and force myself to relax. I
usually read dark fiction but there are a few erotic books and romances that I
enjoy. They include the following books:

Heights” by Phyllis Whitney

by Heather Graham

Thorn Birds” by Colleen

Phantom Of The Opera” by Gaston Leroux (mostly the various stage versions)

When I
comfort read, I usually read short stories because I have the attention span of
a gnat when I’m tense. I enjoy reading collections of erotic short stories by Cleis Press and
Xcite Books. I’ll read the same books over and over again.

addition to erotic works and romance, I read darker fiction. In fact, I
probably read more dark fiction than anything else. As mentioned earlier, I
prefer short stories when I comfort read. My favorite books to comfort read are
ghost legends like those found in  “The
Screaming Skulls And Other Ghosts” by Elliott O’Donnell and “Ghosts”
by Hans Holzer. Yes, many of these stories are frightening, but I feel a
cathartic release of tension when I read those kinds of stories. Many are
revenge stories such as “Pearlin
Jean of Allanbank
“, which is about a man being haunted by a woman who
loved him who died when she was run over by the carriage he occupied. He drove
on, ignoring her. She haunted him, making him miserable until the day he died. Such stories are
soothing to me because in a sense they follow the Happily Ever After ending in
romances. Revenge stories are satisfying because the wronged party is most
often vindicated in the end. I’ve been burned my fair share of times, so I find
these stories very gratifying. I love revenge stories.

are plenty of romances in ghost stories. “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” is
one. “Blithe Spirit” is another. When it comes to movies, of course,
there is “Ghost”. That pottery scene is a classic.

husband sometimes comfort reads “John Carter Of Mars” by Edgar Rice
Burroughs. A close friend of mine rereads “The Door Into Summer” and
“Glory Road” by Robert Heinlein. They’ve been favorites of his since
his youth. My husband has enjoyed Burroughs since his youth. That may also be a
key to the popularity of comfort reading. Quite often readers have enjoyed
these stories since they were children. I first read the O’Donnell and Holzer
books when I was 12 years old. I discovered “Thunder Heights” at
about the same time. “The Thorn Birds”, “Phantom”, and
“Blithe Spirit” came later.

Why is
comfort reading so popular? I think it’s because you are guaranteed the ending
you wish since you’re already familiar with the story. You get satisfaction
that things will turn out the way you want them to. In romances, the Happily
Ever After ending is of paramount importance. Even in books that are new to
you, you are all but guaranteed the heroine and hero will overcome all
obstacles and end up together. The road leading to their togetherness may be
fraught with pain and hurdles, but there is satisfaction in knowing that they
will overcome. Real life isn’t like that. You don’t always catch the brass
ring. You don’t always end up with your true love. You don’t always get your vengeance
against someone who wronged you. But when it comes to romance, those fantasies
are guaranteed. Hence the satisfaction in reading new romances as well as
rediscovering old, familiar ones.

named a few of my favorite books to read over and over again. What are your
comfort reads?

Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.

1 Comment

  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Alice in Wonderland comes to mind- though in fact I haven't read it for a long time.

    I cringed when I heard about your computer and your shower wall, Elizabeth. Talk about a double whammy!

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