It still amazes me how many people think I only read “hard books.” You know, the giant brick-sized classics that take weeks (or months) to finish. They think I don’t ever indulge in comfort reads. So. Not. True.
I spend a lot of time taking in content. I proof-read all day so I’m often squinting at text the majority of my daily life. When it’s slow, I can easily head home and jump into something serious, but if I’m proofing or editing long-form text, forget it. If I don’t downgrade the intensity of my reading I’ll end up watching those cute puppies shows on tv again. Yes, that happened. And yes, it was the only thing I could handle at the time. It’s called reading burnout. Not pretty.
I’m sure I’m not the only reader out there who sometimes needs a cozy read- one that’s like a nice blankie that will wrap you up and feel welcoming and safe, but not too overwhelming when you’ve had a tough week. It’s Friday, but I’m exhausted. It’s been a long one. So I will not be going for one of the serious books I’ve got in the reading queue. I’ll be headed for one of these beauties:
Comfort reads to turn to when you’re so burnt out you can barely see, much less concentrate.
Long title, but you get my point. Here we go:
- Favorite Children’s Lit. Don’t even try to read an adult book right now. You don’t have to go to Corduroy level, but Harry Potter, mentioned above, is a great reading rest cure. (Bonus points if you read it under this blanket) As is any series you loved as a kid: Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, even Sweet Valley High if you’re really looking for a nostalgia trip.
- Sci-Fi. Full disclosure- I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but when done right, it can really take you completely away from a stressful present. Don’t go for something super long like Dune unless it’s calling you. A nice Philip K Dick is just right on length and not pummeling you with challenge. I did not read The Martian, just saw the film, ( I can’t believe I’m saying that either) but I suspect it would be equally effective. At the very least you know that whatever kind of crap week you’re having, his is worse.
- Cozy Mysteries. Do not read this as Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or any kind of brutal slice ’em and dice ’em type of thriller. I’m talking about cozy mysteries- the ones with lead characters like Miss Marple. Well-meaning types who are navigating the line between nosy and helpful. Anything by Alexander McCall Smith, especially the Sunday Philosophy Club or No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is ideal. The entire 44 Scotland Street series is so cozy too, even if it isn’t a mystery. It’s like literary hot chocolate. As in the drink, not the band.
- Graphic Novels. This is a new category for me. I never read graphic novels or comics at all. I even was a bit of a snob about them. I’m not talking about Maus or Persepolis, just the genre in general. But I am really falling in love with it now that my guy has been able to curate for me. Being able to take in a story with fewer words and just as much plot and emotion is a gift when you’re tired- also good when sick. I got Bitch Planet for Christmas from my guy (I asked him to get it for me, he wasn’t trying to make any comments) and I think this would be a great weekend to read that one. Others I love: Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage (warning- you’ll want to run to the airport and fly off immediately), the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, and Sex Criminals. Ok, clearly this genre brings out my inner vixen. But maybe that’s good for burnout, too?
I hope this will help you wind down this weekend… and if all else fails, I won’t judge you if you turn to television. We have HBO and have been working our way through Game of Thrones. (No spoilers please! We’ve just barely started season two- there’s a long way to go…) A little television every now and then doesn’t kill us. And my desire to watch a few shows, read some magazines & lit journals, and catch up on podcasts is why I set my reading challenge for 52 this year instead of 100. Granted, I’m now reading longer books, but let’s all avoid reader burnout, ok?
What are your favorite comfort reads? Please do share in the comments. And if you want to cozy up and start reading medicinally, subscribe to Footnotes and join us over in the Secret Library book club. We’re having a great time with Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. Come discuss! (I did not put self help on this list for a reason- sometimes I find it too exciting and it makes me want to take a bunch of action. Like the time I read Fluent Forever and rearranged all our furniture and got so excited I had insomnia. Gentle self-help only when tired, please!
Have an amazing weekend, everyone. Happy reading.