In times of trouble, I often turn to my favourite books and films to soothe me.
I don’t reread, or rewatch things much any more, since there are too many new things for me to consume and not nearly enough time.
But when times are tough, and I really just need something to cheer me up, or give me hope, I have a few old standbys that I go to.
Usually, I don’t need to read or watch the whole thing. Favourite scenes will do—often the ending. I have usually seen the film, or read the book, enough times that I know it by heart. So, it isn’t about discovering something new. It’s about returning to the emotional place I was in when I first read that book. The feelings I have during the reread are echoes of what I felt then. Even if, between the first time I read the book and the present day, I intellectually begin to notice the issues with the story or characters or whatever, chances are my nostalgia will over ride that.
Sometimes, though, a comfort read doesn’t have to be an old favourite. Sometimes I will take a chance and pick up something new. And it’s always a romance.
There’s something about the emotional release and coming together in romance novels that is very cathartic for me—it is a genre that’s perfect for a comfort read. I know when I pick up a romance novel that whatever happens, the characters will triumph. I won’t be left with an ending just as—if not more so—depressing as the reality I am trying to escape.
People call romances formulaic, but I think that there isn’t that much difference between rereading a favourite book and reading a novel that a reader will know must have a happy ending. Either way, the comfort and the trust comes from knowing what will happen.
Some of my favourite comfort reads include:
The scene at the end of Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward, where Zsadist and Bella finally come together. I have so many problems with this series in general. But when he hands her the note? I tear up every time.
A few scenes in Cry No More by Linda Howard. It’s my favourite of hers. There are a few lines in particular that really get to me.
Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye – despite the technical issues I now see in that book, I still get the warm fuzzies from reading it. The sequel was better written but not quite as memorable.
The ‘You are my country’ scene from Connie Brockway’s As You Desire. So fucking romantic.
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Just in general. Jessica is just the best.
Big chunks of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it.
So, what are your favourite comfort reads?