Everyone has those select books that make them feel safe. Whether it’s because you read them at a particular time in your life, or associate them with something comforting, these books can have a surprisingly powerful effect. In this post, I’m going to share some of the ones I like to bury myself in when I feel the need for something familiar.
- Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murakami– The book that introduced me to my favourite author of all time. I read this at a time when lots of changes were going on in my life; I was struggling in school, my mental health was the worst it’s ever been, and everything felt meaningless. From the very first page, I could tell Kafka on the Shore wasn’t like anything I’d read before. The way that nothing is ever explained yet somehow everything has a deep meaning attached to it, the tranquil atmosphere hanging over the whole book, and the strange pilgrimages the characters take all resonated with me in a way nothing else has since. Its ambiguity offered the perfect antidote to the prescribed, predictable nature of secondary school, and still does.
- The Moomins series by Tove Jansson– When I was a little girl my dad would read aloud from the Moomin books to me and my mum on lazy weekend mornings. They remind me of my childhood, and of being snuggled up in bed when it’s raining outside. Even now, I occasionally read them before I go to sleep. I’ve always thought they have a similar feel to the CBeebies show In the Night Garden (the weirdest, most psychedelic kids show ever), in a good way. They’re the kind of books to read just before you go to sleep.
- The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle– This may seem like an odd choice, and granted it’s a bit more young-adult than what I tend to read (not that that’s a bad thing- after all, I am a young adult!). It’s a dark, grown-up fairytale about a family that always gets mysterious injuries around Halloween. It has loads of really original ideas in it, and lots of powerful images that have stuck with me. I’ll always have a soft spot for it, because it’s the first place I heard about tarot cards. To be fair, they’re mostly used as a gimmick to bulk out an under-developed character’s personality, but still, it introduced me to them and now they’re a huge part of my life. The Accident Season is completely magical, and I’ve re-read it multiple times over the last couple of years.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket- I can’t count the amount of times I’ve read these since first discovering them as a child. They just seem to get better every time. I grew up with Lemony Snicket’s wry, sarcastic writing style, so returning to it now just feels natural. Over the years, as my reading taste has expanded, I’ve gradually noticed the sneaky references to other works (Esme Squalor, anyone?), which has been really satisfying. No matter what’s going on in my life, I can always count on the fact that the Baudelaire orphans have it worse!
What books do you return to when you’re in the mood for something comforting?