365 Days of Women Writers

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Day 17: Comfort Books

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I’ve been fighting a cold for the last few days which means I’ve been reading two kinds of books: trashy books and comfort books. So what qualifies as a comfort book?

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were definitely some of the first chapter books I ever read and they still fascinate because of their focus on people and how they do things to survive. How they built a log cabin and dug a well, how they smoke meat, how they made cheese, how you churn butter and about a million other things most people living in America today are completely distant from and how much energy that all took. (I’m sure these books are the reason I know that you need rennet to make cheese.) They also unflinchingly look at the hardships – when the locusts eat the crops, the winter they almost starve to death because there are no trains and Mary going blind from scarlet fever. There are things in them that are obviously fictionalized (well obvious now that I am older) but there’s a great sense of reality in how people lived during that time.

In a simlar vein is Mist on the Mountain by Jane Flory, which is sadly out of print so it is lucky I still have my copy from when I was a child. I would have never known that was such a thing as apple butter if it weren’t for this book. It also makes me a bit sad that I didn’t grow up where there were apple and nut trees all over the place just waiting to be harvested. (And so many different kinds! You would love it for the apple names alone.)

It’s too bad you can’t find A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle with the proper cover any more. (And by that I mean the old dell yearling one (hey! That blog is talking about filmstrips. Oh, nostalgia.)) For me this book is all Meg, Meg, Meg (with a small side of the three Mrs. W’s) I loved that she was cranky and got in fights and did poorly at school and her hair was full of cowlicks that never got styled properly. And I love that she’s good at math. (Take that, Barbie!) I also love that when her dad shows up he can’t save the day–it’s beyond him. Also, what’s creepier than a big giant brain? Nothing! IT is the perfect choice for the absolute evil villain. (IT still gives me the wiggens.)

I really love all of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, but only the middle of it counts as a comfort book. It is the weird interlude when the kidnapping drags on and on, where there is a bit of magic between the kidnappers (many of whom are children) and the hostages. (When I run to this book for comfort, I pretend that the end doesn’t exist and the idyll lasts forever.)

And now it’s time for me to climb back in bed, so that’s all you get for today.

Written by Chance

October 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm