Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Confessions of a Comfort Book Junkie


It’s true. I’m a comfort book junkie. It’s a old habit of mine, and I’m sad to say that I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever reform. Of course I love reading new books, but I can’t resist the lure of my favorites. I reread them. And reread them again. And… yet again. Some books I love so much, I reread them until the pages turn yellow and fall out.

I know this is not an ideal way to live - and I admit that I’m jealous of people who read 50+ new books a year. They explore many new worlds, new authors, and new voices. But do I change my reading pattern? Sure. For a week or two. But I always relapse. I return to my favorites for a few days - or months. Maybe it’s raining outside and I’m frustrated with my work - that makes it a perfect day to pick up RUIN AND RISING again. Or maybe I’m a little under the weather and I want a story I know I love, like Christina Baker Kline’s ORPHAN TRAIN. 

Whatever the excuse, I return to my favorites again and again - either until I’ve gotten my fill of the story, or until the book breaks apart. Of course, when that happens, I empty out the coin jar and run to the bookstore for another copy. 

Books I’ve read to pieces:
1) ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series, by L.M. Montgomery (have replaced 7/8 books)
2) EMILY OF NEW MOON series, by L.M. Montgomery (all three)
3) HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, by J.K. Rowling
4) THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, Barbara Kingsolver
5) GOOD NIGHT MR. TOM, by Michelle Magorian
6) GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell
7) NEW MOON, by Stephenie Meyer 

Books most likely to fall apart within the next five years:
1) A NORTHERN LIGHT, by Jennifer Donnelly
2) A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, by Betty Smith
3) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen
4) SHADOW AND BONE series, by Leigh Bardugo
5) ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline

Of course, there are other books I love enough to be on the endangered list, but they seem to have really strong bindings and can take the abuse. And I am not kind. I leave them open and upside down. I dog ear favorite pages and annotate key passages. I use pens as bookmarks. I even lend these books to my children. 

 There are a few perks to my addiction - I don’t have as many library fines and I suppose I don’t spend as much at the bookstore (although my husband begs to differ). I re-re-reread for enjoyment, but it also cements the author’s voice into my head. I know his or her word choices and how the author bring his or her characters to life. It allows me pick up on subtle foreshadowing I’ve missed the first or second time through. If I’m stuck in my own work and need an example of a similar scene, I know these books well enough that I can quicikly find the right passage. 


I’ll always wish I read more widely. But the joy I’ve gained and things I’ve learned have made me glad to be a comfort book junkie.