What are your comfort books?
I’m not asking you to list your all-time favorite books. I don’t want to know which books changed your view of the world or the people around you. (Well, I do, actually, but not right now.) I don’t care which books you consider “great” literature. BO-RING. I do not want you to tell me that if you were trapped on an island, the only book you’d need is the Bible, even if that’s true for you. And if you list Little Women, I will throw up, but, hey, that’s just me. If Louisa pots your plant, list her book, sister.
I want to know the titles of books you return to again and again over time—for whatever reason. Tell me your reading touchstones—not like Pat Conroy does in his book—but in a list format, so I can write them down and buy them.
When I speak to groups, I am almost always asked what I like to read. I always tell the truth, and I’m a startlingly eclectic reader. It always surprises people. I don’t know why. (Do I look boring?) I’m well educated, so I’ve read the classics, but I enjoy almost every genre if the writing is good. I’m a fast reader, and I need to read every single day to be happy. In fact, immersing myself in a book is my favorite way to beat the blues. I recommend this strategy to all of you. It works; it’s also cheap, quiet, portable, and doesn’t require participation by others.
Post your comfort list in “comments” to this blog post or on my Facebook fan page: Facebook.com/MelindaRaineyThompson. If you’re really ashamed of them, email me. I want the unvarnished truth. I am curious about the stacks on your night table. I want the REAL list—not the books you feel compelled to read for whatever reason. I promise not to poke fun. Much. Read my list. I’m obviously sharing the unedited truth. No need to hide your titles on your Kindle home page!
I’ll go first:
- Beach Music by Pat Conroy. Conroy is THE MAN for me for novels about the South. I think this is the best “brother” book I’ve ever read. I re-read it every couple of years. It’s my favorite Conroy novel.
- Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie. Weird, huh? I was temporarily obsessed with the demise of the Russian royal family in high school. I still like to read about them. Massie taught a history class at Tulane while I was there. I also like books about genetics. We all have our little quirks. I’ll be nice about yours if you’re nice about mine. I have a friend whose IQ is off the charts, and her secret pleasure is reality television which gives me a migraine. Who am I to judge?
- Favorite mystery writer: Mike Stewart. Sins of the Brother, Dog Island, A Clean Kill. Mike writes about my part of the country, and his prose is sharp, clean, and powerful. I am in love with his hero, Tom McInnis, the perfect Southern man. I wish Mike would quit practicing law and write more books. We have plenty of lawyers. Just my opinion, of course, but I’m right.
- Favorite mystery series: The Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. What can I say? I’m a good Episcopalian, and the heroine is an Episcopal priest.
- Best beach/bubble bath books: Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Fair warning: You have to love vampire lit. I do. So sue me. Add a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups to that, and I’m one happy reader.
- A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness. Witches and vampires for smart people who love history. Written by a professor who managed to achieve commercial success without screwing up her tenure. Amazing.
- Sullivan’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank. I’m a bit of a Frank groupie. She’s the author I’d most like to eat dinner with. I’ve signed in the same bookstores, and everybody loves her, as far as I can tell.
- Non-fiction: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Depressing but worth it.
- Kiddie lit.: All the Harry Potter books and the Twilight series. Pure escapism and beautiful prose.
Now: Tell the truth about what YOU love to read. I’m taking suggestions! And before you ask, let me just go ahead and confess: Yes, indeed, I read Fifty Shades of Grey—the entire trilogy, in fact, like every other woman in the United States and abroad. I read all three books in TWO DAYS. Oh, my. . . .