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Wednesday, 20 January 2016


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When I did a post about comfort reading a couple of months ago and admitted that this usually meant crime fiction, a genre that seemed to be anything but comforting, a friend pointed out that the thing about such books is that good almost always wins out over evil and that there is indeed comfort to be had in that. As for reading Children's Literature, don't ever be ashamed about that. I made a career of lecturing about it and some of the best storytellers around write for children. I love Wynne Jones, Aiken and Hardinge. Try Alison Croggon, Susan Cooper and Philip Pullman.


Oh yes! I totally read books for comfort especially this time of year. Currently I have been on a superhero/graphic novel kick. They are fun and upbeat and fast paced and you know who the good guys and the bad guys are and the good guys always win even when it looks like they won't.


Hello Alex! I think what your friend said is very true, especially in the older books which I enjoyed. I also think that even those in which good doesn't win out, or not wholly, there is comfort to be had in the idea that there are reasons for things and that these reasons can be found. I don't know if you'd agree though!

I love Susan Cooper's books and also Philip Pullman's, but I've never ever heard of Alison Croggon so thank you for that :)

Jenny @ Reading the End

Oh but -- you should at least write about Rumer Godden! I love her so much, and she is so underloved these days. I grew up with her kids' books and I do still truly love them better than her adults' books taken as a whole. Though those of her adults books that have my heart, I love as much as any three of her kids' books. (Wait, is that true? I guess it would depend on the three.)


I'm a great indulger in comfort reading and this is certainly the time of year for it. Like Alex, I often turn to crime, but as you say, the golden age is probably the most comforting. But I think the assurance of a safe and satisfactory resolution is the thing, as you both say. And I too love children's literature -- I can't tell you how many times I've re-read the really old ones like E.Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett.


Stefanie, sorry, we must have cross-posted! I like your comfort-reading choices - they sound very satisfying. Are they colourful too? I mean literally colourful? Because bright colours are often cheering too. In comparison to grey areas, both literal and figurative. :)

Oooh Jenny, which are your favourites? The one I've just reread was The Doll's House. I think it's the one I read least as a child of those I came across, because of what happens to Birdie. I haven't read that many of her adult books, although I have read a biography about her, she had a very interesting life. She could definitely do with more love, it's true! I might have left it a bit too late to write about The Doll's House though.

Harriet, E. Nesbit! She is great! I was rereading The Treasure Seekers recently and actually guffawing because it's so funny. I'm also very fond of The Enchanted Castle. Of FHB, I've only ever read The Secret Garden and A Little Princess and they are indeed wonderful. Are there any others you'd recommend? Should I brave Little Lord Fauntleroy? :)


This is an excellent post, Helen. I think that most of what I read is probably comfort reading to some extent! Like you, I've been reading quite a bit of children's books, of the vintage variety, and there's no shame in that at all. I adore Joan Aiken and this month have been adding more of her titles to my collection. Right now I'm reading one of her adult suspense novels, 'Castle Barebane', but will return to the fanciful fantastic tales soon. I seem to be tending towards Victorian books right now, either written then or in that setting.


Thanks, Lori, that's very nice of you! I hope you'll blog about some of the books you read; I've been curious about Joan Aiken's adult books for a while but for some reason assumed that they wouldn't be that great; I'd love to read your thoughts about Castle Barebane.


Helen, I finished 'Castle Barebane' last night, but for the first time in my life have regretted reading a Joan Aiken book and doubt that I will be keeping this one (though probably only paid a pittance for it, being ex-library). If I'd known that 'Castle Barebane' would have such horrid things in it, including child abuse, a serial killer, two shocking murders at the end, cruelty, destruction... I'd never have started it. It gave me bad dreams too. I'm sure it would be considered mild to some who read more gritty and graphic books, but I found it very disturbing and everything was so vivid to me as I read it. Of course it was well-written and gripping, being a Joan Aiken book, but altogether too upsetting in some aspects for me.


Oh Lori, what a pity, and I'm sorry that it affected you so much. I too get nightmares from some books (also detective series on the television) so I do understand. I find reading something else as quickly as possible does help.

I do think that there is a cruel streak in some of Joan Aiken's writing: as well as writing horror stories for children, there are some moments in The Stolen Lake and Dido and Pa which I found really horrible. (But I did read those as an adult; perhaps a child might be made of sterner stuff.)

Have you come across any of her sister's writing (Jane Aiken Hodge)? I read one of hers a while ago. I think she writes fairly straight historical fiction, but well. It might be more your cup of tea. You might also enjoy Cassandra Golds' novels: they're difficult to find in Britain, but you can get hold of them via fishpond. Clair de Lune is a good place to start (but there is a sad bit, be warned).

I hope you feel better soon.


Aww, thank you, Helen. I'm all right, I'm going to turn to some Scottish books that arrived last month, and also pick out something very funny as an antidote. Joan Aiken books are excellent, but that one was just not for me in some ways, and just this month I've added several of her books to the collection, including some vintage Puffins. I haven't read The Stolen Lake or Dido and Pa yet, but you have forewarned me to expect trouble! It's lovely that you are sensitive and understand, I hope you don't encounter any more books that give you nightmares. No, I haven't read any of her sister's books, thanks for telling me about them. :) Lori


I'm glad you're all right, Lori! I hope you enjoy your Scottish books and the other Joan Aikens. I'm reading Georgette Heyer at the moment - no nightmares there!


I have The Rabbit Back Literature Society and want to read it very much in 2016!


Oh do read it, Bellezza, I'd love to know your thoughts! I meant to write about it here, but don't seem to have managed to, at least not yet. The story of my life!

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