February Break

It’s a dreary, snowy day outside the office windows—the kind of day that makes me want to curl up with a book (or two or three) and a steaming mug of hot cocoa. And is that book (or two or three) something new and provocative, something I’ll need to think about and stretch my mind around?

Nope. Not a chance.

That book (or two or three) is comfort reading. Pulled from the stack of books that I reread over and over. They are dogeared, their spines are broken, many show water damage or the covers have fallen off. They are well loved and comfortable. They are old friends.

I asked around the office; here’s what some of us at Lee & Low turn to on snowy days, sick days, and other days when comfort reading is just the right thing to do.

I mostly go in for fantasy. Or ballet.
Anything by Tamora Pierce. I have my favorites among her canon, sure, but her particular brand of girl-power fantasy never fails to make me happy.
The Drina series by Jean Estoril. I have a soft spot for books about girls wanting to be ballerinas, and this series does it so well.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Sometimes reading is about escapism. Like escaping from this world into a grimier, dingier, entirely more dangerous underworld!
Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It’s not vampire romance, it’s vampire friendship.

I don’t usually re-read entire books cover to cover, but I like to browse my favorite parts — which works especially well with poetry or nonfiction (e.g., a collection of personal essays) that doesn’t read in a fully linear way.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Individual poems I’ve collected, including poets Ruth Forman, Lynn Powell, Lucille Clifton, etc.
“Old favorite” picture books.
When I was younger:
Maizon at Blue Hill by Jacqueline Woodson
The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop. Poetry is great for snowy days when you have time to read slowly and ponder.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Still thrilling no matter how many times I pick it up.
Pride & Prejudice. When it comes to comfort reading, my favorite Jane Austen. Me and everybody else…
Gilead. I can open this book to any page and be amazed by the sheer loveliness of Marilynne Robinson’s words.
Any of the Harry Potters! Though especially 3 and 4. Oh, and 6. And maybe 1 and 2…

What about you? What are your favorite books to pick up again and again?

2 thoughts on “February Break”

  1. Like Emily, I rarely reread a whole book. I’m looking forward to reading more in “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History” by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich(who coined the phrase) and “The Calligrapher’s Daughter,” by my colleague from PBS, Eugenia Kim.
    I’m intrigued by Miriam’s fantasy picks, too!
    Happy reading to you all.

  2. Susan and Emily, are you fast readers or slow? I wonder if there’s a correlation between how fast a person reads and how much they reread. My roommate will take two weeks to read a book that his girlfriend or I would whip through in two days, but he remembers all the details and rarely rereads, whereas I remember broad outlines and how much I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) the book, but lose details quickly—and then reread.

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