In Praise of Comfort Stories, Edited

I’ve been thinking about comfort stories.  They’re like comfort food, warm and familiar with no surprises, just more of what we already know we like.  As a writer, I’m not interested in writing the same story again (I have a very short attention span), but as a reader, I devour Dick Francis and Rex Stout and Georgette Heyer, and my repeat watchings of Leverage and Person of Interest have no end.  I’ve watched Big Trouble in Little China so many times, I can recite the dialogue ahead of time.  And yet, I go back again and again.

I started thinking about comfort stories this weekend after I watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a movie with Samuel Jackson and Ryan Reynolds playing Samuel Jackson and Ryan Reynolds.  That is, it was about Jackson and Reynolds being cool and snarky and violent and shooting guns; and the bad-but-really-good guys won over the bad-no-really-bad guy who was played by Gary Oldman playing the Gary Oldman Bad Guy.  There wasn’t a surprise in it anywhere since these three guys can do this beautifully in their sleep now, but it was still fun to watch (fave moment: Reynolds bitching that Jackson had ruined the word “motherfucker,” “which isn’t easy to do.”).  Wait, I lied about the surprise: Salma Hayek spitting scenery was always a wake-up moment.  Reynold’s love interest was the cookie-cutter  beautiful-instantly-forgettable-hot-former-girlfriend-who-still-cares, a trope I am becoming more and more annoyed with.  (I’m still bitter that Darcy didn’t get Thor in the first Thor movie.  Now THAT would have been a romance.)  Mostly it was Jackson and Reynolds flirting with guns and each other (of course it’s a bromance, and for once I didn’t wish they’d just go for it because Hayek was so perfect for Jackson), and for one night that was plenty.  It was a comfort story.  

I get the same feeling from the billionaire books on BookBub.  I had a thought at one point that I should buy half a dozen of them, read them and take notes (once an academic, always an academic) and then do a snarky billionaire book. Maybe SHE can be the billionaire.  No, that makes him a fortune hunter.  Maybe he isn’t a billionaire.  No, that cuts the juice out of the trope.  Maybe he’s not that good-looking and is kind of bumbling, but then you find out why he’s a billionaire . . . no, Heyer did that in Sprig Muslin.  NO, NO, IN COTILLION.  Maybe she’s a . . . 

Can’t do it.  If you strip the comfort out of a comfort story, it’s just another story..  

Maybe that’s why the Marriage of Convenience story has survived in the twenty-first century , a time pretty much made for walking away from people you don’t want to be with..  That they’re-trapped-with-each-other-until-they-fall-in-love story has morphed into a dozen variations on the theme–they’re snowed in, they’re trapped in an elevator, he’s hired to protect her and can’t leave her side (I’d really like a she’s-hired-to-protect-him, but hey), they’re pretending to be married to solve a crime (any trope that’s good enough for X-Files, Person of Interest, and Leverage is good enough for me no matter how many times it’s been used)–and I still greet them with delight.  Come on, who didn’t squeal when Reese and Zoe went undercover with Bear in suburbia?   The MOC is the uber-comfort story.  It’s the non-sociopathic version of the rape romance: I didn’t want to but I had no choice (because I had to solve the crime, save the ranch, defeat the forces of evil).  And then once I got to know him . . . . (I’ve decided all rape romances, regardless of historical significance, should die in a fire, but that’s just me.  And a hundred million American women who have had it up to here with men who don’t understand that you are not allowed to touch unless invited.  Specifically invited.  Preferably in writing since so many men are so damn bad at reading body language.  And undestanding the word “No.”.)

Of course there are comfort stories that are stand-alone and wonderful.  We just did Hogfather,, and there’s Thief of Time and Going Postal and Good Omens.  Pratchett is a comfort read because he repeats the same world and characters, but he makes a new and different story each time.  I think that’s voice and world view even more than character and place.  I go back to Pratchett because I want to spend time with Susan, but even more because I want to spend time with Practchett.

And of course the other reason I’m thinking about comfort stories is that I’m hauling out my Christmas trees and plugging in lights and wrapping packages and doing all the other things that tell my Christmas story.  I even have a creche that I Iove; it’s a Mexican clay set with cactuses with chickens on top of them.  I’m not a practicing Christian beyond “Try to be a good person,” but I love that manger scene.  Because of the chickens.   And I love my Christmas trees which stay decorated so that all I have to do is plug them in every year. They’re my comfort story for December.  

All of which has convinced me that comfort stories are necessary to mental health.  We can’t always be challenged, surprised, thrilled, and terrified.  For Americans, that’s our everyday reality now, (Go, Kristin Gillibrand!) so fantasy has to step in to save us.   As 2017 finally comes to a close (please let 2018 be better, please, please, please), I am now here to praise comfort stories.

Also, if you live in Alabama, go vote against that lying child molester.  I need some surprising but good news tonight as I watch Brokenwood again.

THANK  YOU, ALABAMA!

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76 thoughts on “In Praise of Comfort Stories, Edited

  1. It’s a trope that nearly always works for me regardless of genre.

    Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold has one of the best MoC’s out there. And it’s in space…. The scene where they try to justify the annulment before a magistrate who’s one of Captain Vorpatril’s relatives is one of the best in a very good book. It’s one of my all time comfort reads.

    I just finished listening to Slightly Married by Mary Balogh on Audible and as for contemporaries–Penny Reid has a new one out next year in her Knitting in the City series that’s a MoC and I’m very fond of A Cinderella Deal. Just reread that one this summer!

    10+

    1. I love Ivan’s story, too! He’s the reformed rake — and he’s the kind of rake who DID learn as a teenager not to be a rapist. He is a percentage-rake, in that he asks so many women that he’s bound to date one percent of them. And he brings value to the relationships. Not love, per se, but understanding and compassion and admiration for the lady. (Until Tej — and then, he was able to bring all the hard-earned EDUCATION to this relationship.)

      My comfort books are often about the fairy tale, though. Bet Me. Komarr/A Civil Campaign. To some extent, Pride and Prejudice, which isn’t quite a fairy tale, although kind of close.

      4+

  2. I feel the almost the same way about billionaire books as I do about romance books that include rape. I feel abused. I really dislike the people who have benefited from the country we live in but think their success was due to themselves alone and feel no need to give back.

    The first Georgette Heyer I read was The Convenient Marriage and I loved the Earl of Rule and he clearly is near the top of the social pyramid.

    These days I seem to be either reading/watching/listening to straight reality or going as far away as I can get in romance, scifi, fantasy. (And big ditto on Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.)

    4+

  3. Oh, forgot to mention I’m having trouble with workplace romances/fiction right now. Had to put several down that would have been good reads in a different climate. Definitely not comfort reads today.

    Lord Peter Wimsey novels still work though. Started a reread of Strong Poison this week.

    3+

  4. Part of the comfort story thing for me is knowing that I can trust the protagonist. Knowing they won’t do something appalling, something immoral. Knowing they have good hearts. And that things will work out well in the end. Pretty much all of Lois Bujold’s books work for me, but I’ve just been rereading The Sharing Knife series, which is an excellent comfort read.

    I suspect this is also why so many adults are reading children’s novels at the moment. The world is such a terrifying place – we want to know that the good guys are going to win. And in children’s books they do.

    7+

  5. I planned a day around getting my hearing aid checked, check, 30% coupon at Kohl’s, check, bought another string of lights for our almost 10 year old pre-lit tree that is starting to become the unlit tree, check. Best of all I took the route home right by the library and went into the books for sale section, check. Came out with a Janet Dailey Christmas paperback, Scrooge wore Spurs, a Judith McNaught, Every Breath I Take paperback, a Knights Templar for hubby and two cookbooks also paperback, Christmas for Dummies and The Two Hundred Year Anniversary King Arthur Flour cookbook. All for $2.50. Double Check! I have the traditional Creche but kind of like the idea of your Mexican Creche. I think that’s why I like Hallmark ornaments, they take all the quirks that are in films and build an ornament around them. Today I bought the Christmas Vacation, with Clark Griswold 2017 ornament usually I wait until after Christmas for a sale. Now it is time for a nap.

    1+

  6. I love comfort reads. I probably lean on them more than I should. For example, I have been working on the second book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. It’s dark for YA but very very good. And then a character died. She wasn’t a main character. We only met her for one scene, but I really really didn’t want her to die. And the way she did was affecting. I almost started sobbing at work.

    So it is back to comfort reads for me. Frankly, I need them fairly often.

    And I think that Billionaire as comfort is an excellent point that I had not considered. There is usually a strong aspect of him taking care of major financial burdens for the heroine. And his major goal is usually to take care of her. Ah fantasy…

    2+

    1. I definitely think a big part of the appeal of the billionaire is him as a caretaker, removing burdens from the heroine.

      Of course, I just watched the episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” where her rich boyfriend gives her a dolphin and (spoiler?) calls ICE on her friend/his romantic rival, who’s in the country illegally, and it’s such a perfect sendup of what the real billionaire boyfriend would be… “I’ve never faced hurdles, Kimmy. Like in school, when we ran hurdles, and all of my hurdles were removed for me ahead of time, and so I nearly always won!”

      1+

        1. THE BILLIONAIRE TAKES A BRIDE, by Liz Fielding. I don’t know how Traditional it really is, but I spent fifty pages rolling around on the floor giggling over the hamster.

          2+

  7. My current favourite comfort read is The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I have lost track of how many times I’ve reread it. It starts with an 18 year old being woke to discover that his father and brothers were all killed in an explosion and he’s now the Emperor. It’s fantasy but also steampunk and Maia is a very comforting companion as he (and I) get through vicissitudes. He’s a good person struggling to stay good when he has ultimate power.

    Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword and her Sunshine have been comfort reads for me. Manhunting and Bet Me likewise.

    I need the problems in the story to not relate to my problems, I think, for them to be comforting.

    7+

    1. Yes yes yes, totally agree about The Goblin Emperor. I just reread it for that very reason. And the Mckinley books too. Have you read Bujold’s Curse of Chalion series? It has the same idea of a good person struggling to stay good in difficult circumstances.

      2+

      1. I ADORE The Goblin Emperor. It’s one of only two books I’ve ever re-read immediately on finishing. That is, I finished it the first time and then started reading it again right away. And then I read it again 3-4 more times in the next 6 months.

        3+

  8. Currently re-reading Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood for comfort, I just like the part food plays in it. Agatha Christie is good for comfort, They Came to Baghdad or the Mystery of the Blue Train, though now it is Christmas I should hunt up The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. Donna Andrews is good for the Christmas theme. Busman’s Honeymoon for the love story.

    2+

  9. I’m all over the comfort stories. Dick Francis is a major comfort writer for me. I just really appreciate how his heroes are all ordinary guys who get caught up in crazy shit and COPE. They are brave and resourceful and nearly always kind. They take care of business, but they take care of people, too. A lot of the books have a little bit of romance, some of them have a lot; but the stories are primarily about problem-solving, and that just never gets old for me.

    5+

  10. The Cinderella Deal is my comfort read, followed by Agnes and the Hitman. I just finished reading the Goblin Prince for the second time and it holds up.

    5+

    1. Definitely Agnes and the Hitman and also Maybe This Time – I love North. Georgette Heyer – my favourite rereads are The Grand Sophy and These Old Shades. Now I’m going to work my way through all these recommendations!

      1+

  11. My favorite Bujold novels are “Komarr”, “A Civil Campaign”, and “Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen”, in that order. I read them every time I need soothing, and my copies are falling apart. And then, there are Heyer, of course, and Jayne Ann Krentz, and Jennifer Crusie. I should’ve bought all their books in hardcover, as I re-read them again and again. Perfect comfort books.

    4+

  12. I think the trick with comfort reads is it has to be as good and fun and hopeful as possible, without it being too optimistic to believe in. And that balance varies so much from person to person. There’s this SUPER cheesy Christmas romance on Netflix right now, and I mostly enjoyed it until the end, when they got engaged. And that just popped my bubble of belief. Whereas one of my other friends loved the engagement, and another one couldn’t even make it 15 minutes into the movie before her bubble was agressively popped by the lax security measures of a fictional castle. you

    2+

  13. SPRIG MUSLIN? Not COTILLION, for the slightly bumbling guy?

    I also like, as comfort reads, Gene Stratton Porter’s THE HARVESTER and LADDIE. There is just something about the Harvester creating the perfect kitchen . . . .

    2+

      1. COTILLION.

        I forgot — goodness knows how THAT happened — to include Amelia Peabody as a comfort read — not all the books, all the time, but CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK and the Quartet in particular.

        5+

        1. I like Heyer a whole lot, but I can never really keep the titles straight with the books, either.

          Tell me it’s the Freddie one, and I’m right with you. I just looked Sprig Muslin up on Wikipedia, and I’m pretty sure that’s the one (one of the ones?) with Restorative Pork Jelly. I read the name “Hester” and I’m like, oh yeah, my dear Hester. But the name doesn’t pop up. It’s the Pork Jelly and all it symbolizes (-:.

          1+

          1. Restorative Pork Jelly is Frederica and she needs it for Felix’s recovery. Alverstoke is thrown off his game by her sudden request!

            It’s so ridiculous that I know all the Heyer plots but those books have been comfort reads for sooo long.

            5+

          2. Ah! Yes, thank you. Frederica and the Restorative Pork Jelly. One of my favorites, too, especially since I look upon it as almost steam punk.

            Well, I guess I’ll just have to re-read Sprig Muslin again. It seemed there was an invalid involved in that one, and a young monster-girl who was in love with Jack, then served him right.

            1+

  14. I recently read a she-was-hired-to-protect-him book. Deadly Testimony by Piper Drake. So there’s at least one.

    December means a lot of comfort watching for me. I’ve already watched Grimm and Miss Fisher Christmas episodes (“The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” is now tradition for me; setting a goblin trap with fruit cake is just never going to get old for some reason). When I get to my parents’ house next week, “Christmas in Connecticut” and “A Christmas Story” will be waiting for me.

    3+

      1. I think the lack of death is why I prefer that one. Although I’m not opposed to murder in a Christmas episode – that Miss Fisher special had a pretty high body count. There’s just something really entertaining about watching them chase three foot tall smelly goblins while they knock over decorations.

        1+

    1. Oooh, I just had a thought. “She was hired to protect him” is usually a secretary trope in the first half of the 20th century — and sadly, the secretary hardly ever seems to get the boy in most of the mainstream stuff. (Sam Spade’s secretary? I can’t quite remember.) I seem to remember she had a better success rate in the Harlequin line — she’d save him and protect his schedule, and he fell so hard and deep in love . . . .

      3+

  15. My comfort novels are Morning Gift, Company Of Swans, Princess Below Stairs and Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson, plus Venetia, Black Sheep, Frederica, Arabella and Sylvester by Heyer, and Welcome to Temptation. I love all Crusie, but WTT was my first, and every time I read it, I get that total tingle of immersing myself in the characters’ world and just love it. I do reread Bet Me, and Faking It, but Sophie and Phinn are two of my all-time favourite romance characters.

    The final comfort book that I read and reread is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, because the Fossil sisters were my first role models – three poor, talented, gritty girls who had to work to discover first what their dreams were and second, how to make them come true for themselves. Girl power and agency before we even knew we needed them.

    6+

    1. My comfort reads are Bet Me, Cinderella Deal, Trustee from the Toolroom and A Town like Alice, The Thin Man, Edna Ferber’s Emma McChesney stories.

      A lot of Georgette Heyer & Dorothy Sayers, the Amelia Peabody stories, but usually that’s a run of books – where I start at the beginning and just reread everything. A lot of the old Signet Regencies – like Mary Balogh, Carla Kelly et al.

      1+

      1. The funny thing to me is that my comfort reads aren’t necessarily my favorite books. I love WTT & Fast Women more but I go back to Cinderella Deal & Bet Me & Getting Rid of Bradley for comfort. I love Red Harvest more than The Dain Curse but I re-read the Dain Curse more. I love Dickens & Austen and I reread them but I don’t pick them up when I want something comforting.

        It’s like food. I love a lot of different foods but mashed potatoes and meatloaf or Kung Pao Chicken are for comfort.

        2+

    2. Ballet Shoes helps remind me that Things Could Be Worse. And that things often get better. I should go dig that one out. Thank you!

      1+

  16. Some of my comfort reads are Elizabeth Enright, a children’s author from, um, the 50s-70s? Some of her books are set during WWII and Gone Away Lake and it’s sequel are clearly later.

    My daughter gave me “The Magician’s Boy” to read before she returned it to school. It was cute. I keep wanting to say it’s C. L. Lewis except it’s not. That’s the Magician’s Nephew. Sigh.

    3+

    1. Oh, yes yes yes to Elizabeth Enright. When our kids were younger, we read aloud all the Melendy books and both Gone Away Lake books. I had loved the stories as a child. As an adult, I was delighted to find the writing was strong, too.

      1+

    2. I loved those, especially the Melendy books. And those kids going around on their own in New York, Rush goes to the opera. Somewhere I have a book with all three of the Melendys. I hope I find it again.

      1+

  17. Interesting thoughts. To me your books are comfort reads. You may not write the same stories, but your books do all deliver comfort tones in a feel good, strength-of-character way. That’s the key for a lot of comfort–tone.

    Overall, I think comfort is actually a vital component in life–comfort books, movies, food, surroundings. And I would add traditions since you also brought up the holidays. I think traditions serve to provide comfort, too. There’s a necessary piece to having things we can rely on, predict, have faith in. Comfort is grounding and helps us get to a place where we can handle the not-so-comforting moments/challenges. So I’m with you in the praise for comfort.

    Right now I’m watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel by Amy Sherman of Gilmore Girls fame and loving it. Total comfort with wit, and of course attitude, since it is an Amy Sherman creation. Plus really nice cinematography:)

    3+

  18. Comfort reads are the only thing that get me through a regular December. This particular December, with two dying cats, they are almost as vital as air. For me, Jenny Crusie (I got my signed hardcovers!), Dick Francis, and an assortment of British romcom authors: Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley, and Jenny Colgan are my happy place.

    I also just read Jeanne Ray’s JULIE AND ROMEO, which is not only a clever and funny romance, the protagonists are (gasp!) in their 60s!

    3+

  19. Comfort reads are definitely the one most reliable thing that can help me get back onto my feet again when the going gets hard. Something familiar to lean on – nothing new happens, everything’s exactly as it should be and you can trust it will stay that way, no matter what. The protagonist, or antagonist for that matter, won’t suddenly do something else than last time you read the story, though you might of course discover new things about the plot, character relations or other things you hadn’t thought of before. Still happens to me even with books I’ve read and re-read for 15-20 years! Especially now when I’ve started re-reading childhood favourites in English or Dutch (I’m Swedish). It’s amazing (and, at times, damm annoying) how much translations change a story, or sometimes how much they REMOVE without good reason.

    Bet Me and Faking It are two of my favourite comfort reads, definitely! Always feel great whenever I’ve finished one of them. They’re like band-aids whenever I feel sore in heart or mind. <3

    I also read Pratchett a lot. Reaper Man is one of my favourites, and the rest of the Death and Susan books. When I saw your post about Hogfather last week, Jenny, I immediately picked it up to read it again, and it was just what I needed – thanks for helping me remember! I've also developed sort of a crush on Sam Vimes last years – Stephen Briggs narration of him at Audible is SO. Brilliant!

    Harry Potter has also been a comfort read for me ever since our teacher read it for us in school when we were 11. The whole class was spellbound, literalily! After that my father picked the series up and read them for me, first at the hospital when I was there for eye surgery, and later whenever I visited him. It was our thing, curling up side by side and devouring every word with equal glee and curiosity. I was 19 when we finished the last book, and I still carry every memory with me of his reads, though I nowadays read the audiobooks instead. It's always comforting.

    4+

  20. Oh, I forgot! Last years I’ve also read and re-read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles series a couple of times. It’s hilarious and weird and easy reading – not that it doesn’t touch you, for it does! But it’s a great read if you like Urban Fantasy with a lot of weird magical stuff, Gods, Druids, troubles, humour… It comforts and cheers you up. Luke Daniels, whom narrates the series, is absolutely BRILLIANT and has become one of my all time favourite narrators. I’ve discovered a lot of new, great series just by searching for him on Audible, like the Magic 2.0 series by Scott Meyer or the Legend of Eli Monpress-series by Rachel Aaron. Sometimes I really really love internet.

    1+

  21. A comfort read is one that makes me think the world is safe, bends towards justice, and the decent people win.

    But this thread has also made me think about other definitions and why and when I choose escapist reads v comfort reads.

    4+

  22. These days I can’t read anything but comfort reads. The dates of the real world is too much combined with sad novels. Otherwise it’s just nonfiction for me.

    1+

  23. I haven’t seen Loretta Chase mentioned yet in this thread. I particularly like “Mr. Impossible” and “Captives of the Night”; I love both protagonists in both of those books. Of course there is always “Lord of Scoundrels”; the dialogue at the beginning always cheers me up.

    I also have to mention again a book that has become a very favorite comfort listen in the last year (it is read so well it enhances the book itself); “A Bachelor Establishment” by Jodi Taylor. It makes me smile and it doesn’t have the kind of angst that takes away from the comfort.

    I do find that even with comfort reads I often read (or usually listen) to the first parts and skip the dramatic parts. I know what happens but I don’t necessarily want to relive those each times.

    Also big yes on Noel Streatfeild and “The Ballet Shoes”; one of my favorite books as a child. I liked it best of all her books.

    And Crusies are why I’m here; love WTT, Faking It, Bet Me most but all of them get cycled through. I am still so happy to read the sex scenes gone awry; I don’t know any other authors who have done that. (Are there?)

    3+

    1. Mary Balough in her first books seemed to keep the female protag from much fun in early sex scenes, but the sexy got better as the relationship went along.

      And I just took Ballet Shoes from the shelf to treat myself to a reread. Thank you. Got the Saturdays down too. Thank you again.

      1+

  24. Patty Briggs’ wolves and other shapeshifters turn adversity into triumph; her “bloody but unbowed” theme acts out a spunkiness I have lost touch with in my own life, but that I am glad to be reminded of. Go! Alabama!
    Elizabeth Moon and Tanya Huff’s space opera heroines feed my need for shabby chic Star Trek, the Feminist Generation. Now there are two instances of female guardians of poor baby beefcake being threatened. “Jabber-baby-wocky!” indeed. Moon’s latest features an old woman left alone, by her own design, on a planet, because she’s tired of people & wants to tend her garden. She becomes the galaxy-wide first contact expert due to her cranky mothering skills when the native residents of the planet visit her. Old cranky women who thrive, there’s comfort.
    Edward Petherbridge reading the Wimsey & Vane excruciating foreplay novels, then the print version of the later cozy Wimseys, including the recent extension novels, e.g. “Attenbury Emeralds”. Sure, people die violently at merciless hands, but, pffft! it’s offstage, just as Plato recommended, so not too off-putting. Then the Wimseys love each other and Bunter and all the perfect children and Tom Puffett. That’s my neighborhood.
    Crusie, of course, esp. with artists and extended family craziness as SOP. Or carnie gods.
    Temeraire, bromance carried to a logical extreme, with acute politesse. I skip some of the rough spots in Novik, too, and glom onto the dragons exercising infantile logic. Gives one perspective.
    Thanks for all the recs. I dusted off the boxed holiday ornaments, still in the living room from last year, and contemplated sending for a large branch of holly to stick in a the coal scuttle.

    1+

    1. I liked Moon a great deal but she lost me with the third or fourth Vatta book – and then with the last Serrano book. It was as if she took everything I liked about her and traded it in to be more male dominated science fiction. All the characters and on-going relationships were just swept out of the way. I re-read the earlier stuff but I stop before I get to the disappointing ones.

      1+

  25. I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but reading Connie Willis stories lately has reminded me of other bits of fiction I return to for comfort.

    A Kiss With Teeth by Max Gladstone would be my favorite vampire story if I liked vampire stories.

    Kij Johnson’s 26 Monkeys settles me like a cup of tea on a bleak day even though its an unsettling tale.

    Toad Words by Ursula Vernon (writes also under T. Kingfisher) is almost a snatch of a fairy tale thought. Vernon’s other stories include Jackalope Wives.

    Finally, my life would not be as full and happy as it is if I hadn’t come across Magic in a Certain Slant of Light by Deborah Coates. By the way, my life is very good.

    1+

  26. Many of my favorite comfort reads are listed above. Right now I’m rereading Marjery Allingham. I find myself hoping that Campion figures out how to actually express his feelings—in Traitors purse he spends the whole time realizing how Amanda is his bedrock and yet at the end of the book he can’t tell her.

    A special word for Chase’s dressmaker series which manages to have women who support themselves and run their own lives in ways completely consistent with the period.

    I also have some essayists I read for comfort. EB White, Quinlen, Calvin Trillin.

    I know I have read a book where a woman is assigned to protect a man and he is uncomfortable with it and maybe even screws things up trying to protect her. This will bother me the rest of the day.

    1+

    1. In The Tiger in the Smoke, Amanda is in real danger and Campion can’t get to her and flips out. It’s a nice moment for a hero who’s so laid back he’s almost horizontal.

      1+

      1. He is pretty crazy about her in Traitors Purse too but he can’t bring himself to tell her that. I am rereading Tiger now—will be curious to see if he tells her how he feels as I can’t recall.

        1+

        1. They’re married in Tiger in the Smoke. As I recall, it’s Charlie Luke who tells her about the meltdown Campion had when she gets out of the house.

          1+

  27. Kitty tries to get Jack and then prefers Freddie in Cotillion. In Sprig Muslin Hester turns down Gareth’s marriage proposal for a marriage of convenience, then comes to his rescue when he is hurt. The younger couple is Amanda and an army officer whose name I can’t remember who we only see together at the end of the book. I have never been able to decide whether Heyer wanted to write a boring, easily flustered heroine and show how she nevertheless comes through in a crisis or whether she failed at what she was trying to do.

    1+

  28. Comfort books: Not necessarily the best books but the ones I read when I need a bit of a book hug. Tinker by Wen Spencer. Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Written in Red by Ann Bishop. Manhunting and WTT by Cruisie and almost anything by Ilona Andrews. And, if I am knitting and want to watch something: The Princess Bride, The First Wive’s Club, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

    2+

  29. My go to comfort reads besides Crusie is Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books.

    I love those books for the family made. And the simplicity of the life.

    1+

  30. I’m happy to hear Tammy Pierce’s stories mentioned. They’re my daughter’s go to reads, and her books capture the imaginations of girls across cultural, economic, and reading-ability classes. My favorites are the Beka Cooper books.

    One student wrote her college application essay on her bookcase: she described the books that she had traded in and out over the years as well as the books that she will always keep. Tammy Pierce books were keepers.

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