“Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?” *
Casting about recently for something to read, I realized that what I really wanted was to reread a book—one that I knew would be absorbing, allow me to fall into another world, and comfort me with its familiarity. Just thinking about which books those were generated this list. In no particular order:
The Harry Potter series, especially the first three, by J.K. Rowling. I’ve read all of them multiple times, but the series gets grimmer after the third one and so not quite as suitable for when I need comfort.
The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. I checked out and read the first of these, A Wizard of Earthsea, a couple of weeks ago, telling myself that I wouldn’t read all three since I like the first one best. I went on to read The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore. Not only did I enjoy rereading the trilogy, I was reminded that this is one of my favorite lines in a book: “I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.” Can’t you just see the dragons soaring?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. What can I say? I have read this more times than I can count and still turn to it when I need a sustaining book.
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. One of my all-time favorite adult fiction books. I don’t usually read it from cover to cover anymore, but start wherever it happens to open to. Love it.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. I like the Narnia series and love some of the individual books, but this is my favorite. Early on in the book, when the narrator says about Lucy, “She felt quite sure they were in for a lovely time,” I couldn’t agree more.
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. I read my mom’s hardback copy as a teenager. It was already decades old then, so I thrilled when I found it in paperback ten years ago.
The Betsy-Tacy books, especially Heaven to Betsy and the five books that follow it, by Maud Hart Lovelace. Unlike some of the other series that I read first as an adult, I read this one as a girl. I bought the whole set when it was reissued in paperback several years ago just as I had a little extra cash on hand; I took it as a sign from the universe! The last book in the series, Betsy’s Wedding, is one of the happiest books I’ve ever read.
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. As life-affirming as it gets. Perhaps because it’s set in summertime, I like reading it in August.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Another one I’ve read several times. I always start this one at the beginning so I don’t miss anything in the story.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. I knew about this book for a long time before I finally read it and was drawn into the story immediately. Although I’ve read it several times and know how it comes out, I still get teary at the end. I have the e-book version now and love knowing it’s there waiting for me.
Comment here if you have a book or two you read for comfort!
*Milne, A.A.. Winnie the Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh Book 1) (p. 27). Penguin Young Readers Group. Kindle Edition.