13 Comforting Books To Read When You're Feeling Down, According To People On Reddit
We're all familiar with comfort foods — snacks that bring back a memory, that taste good, that lift our moods no matter how awful a day we've had. But for lit nerds, there is also the small, deeply loved collection of "comfort reads" — the books we've read too many times to count, whose opening lines we can recite from memory. What are the books you turn to for comfort?
It's a question that, when discussed among friends (or just strangers on the internet), reveals layers to our personalities that may not often see the light of day. A person on the street wouldn't know that I used to read the descriptions of the attic storage room in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods during thunderstorms, or that my tradition each Christmas was to re-read The Westie Winter by Coleen Hubbard. But those elements are there, and they still dictate, in little ways, how I see the world.
So when user QueasyDemoDeezy asked, "Was just wondering what people read when they were sad, distraught, went through a breakup, had a fight with a friend etc." to the Reddit book message boards yesterday, I was immediately hooked. They went on to explain that they had recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, a 2013 YA romance that dives deep into online fandom culture. It wasn't a typical choice, but, noted QueasyDemoDeezy, "It made me feel really happy for some reason because I got to feel the happiness of the characters in a way that made me feel OK about some of the more painful aspects of my life at the time."
In 24 hours, over 300 redditors from across the world jumped onto the thread, sharing not only their favorite, most cherished book titles, but the stories behind their love. And no one argued, or yelled, or called one another names. Instead they bonded over shared words and memories.
'The Hobbit' by J.R.R. Tolkien
As user Sa1ph noted, "The Hobbit for me - reading the first few sentences already makes me feel good." So what are the first few sentences?:
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
Ithtar described L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables as "soul cleansing," and I could not agree more. The story of a girl, headstrong and idiosyncratic and deeply imaginative and very much alone, finding family with a pair of equally lonely, older siblings? I mean...
'The BFG' by Roald Dahl
As earthworthcalypso notes, reading children's books is always an act accompanied by comfort and nostalgia, andThe BFG, about a particularly kind giant and a particularly curious little girl, checks all the boxes.
'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster
"Once bought a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth and took it to a coffee shop, stayed there for three hours just reading. no regrets," wrote whataremyxomycetes. And why would there be? If you've read The Phantom Tollbooth, then you know - there's nothing dull about it, or about life.
'Very Good Jeeves' P.G. Wodehouse
User sblahfull wrote, "It's just the most fantastic book ever written. You can't read it without laughing out loud nearly every page." Comfort from pure, unadulterated laughter. Is there anything better?
'Howl's Moving Castle' Diana Wynne Jones
When AutonomousGuineaPig noted that Studio Ghibli film Howl's Moving Castle was actually adapted from a book of the same name, book reddit low-key freaked out. And so did I. And now, probably, so are you.
'Hyperbole and A Half' by Allie Brosh
"This book really makes me laugh out loud with tears streaming down my face like endless rivers. I had to put it aside at some point because I almost fell off my chair from laughing," wrote GimliTheElephant. Hyperbole and a Half, a comics collection about living life and surviving depression, handles mental illness with compassion and humor, two things that are often sorely lacking in those discussions.
'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
Sure, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins with Earth ending, but, as oncenightvaler points out, the story line is so sarcastic, so adventure-filled, that it doesn't make you miss home at all — er, well, maybe just a little bit.
'Sweet Valley High' Series by Francine Pascal
"The Sweet Valley High series. I was obsessed with them all through my tweens and teens so it's fun nostalgia. They're also short(ish), v entertaining, trashy and good escapism!" wrote werdsalad. Who doesn't love a good dose of frothy high school drama?
'Song of the Lioness' Series by Tamora Peirce
YA fantasy superstar Tamora Pierce was a favorite among redditors, who struggled to pick just one of her books. "They always help me feel better. It's nice to just sink into a familiar world when everything around you feels like it is falling apart," wrote lady_born_of_fire
'Inkheart' by Cornelia Funke
Cornelia Funke's story about a girl who must learn to harness the real-life manifestations from her books is the ultimate adventure tale for bookworms. "Always felt like home away from home to me,"wrote Stoney_space_girl. "And it's a book about books."
'The Baby-Sitters Club' Series by Ann M. Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club, suggested by ilovebeaker, is about a club of, yep, tween-aged baby-sitters (who also happen to be best friends), and has been enchanting readers for decades now with its business-minded besties.
The Whole Heckin' Harry Potter Canon by J.K. Rowling
Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular comfort reads was that of the Boy Who Lived. "I've read hundreds of books since I finished HP but they'll always be my literary happy place. Immersing myself in that world of Hogwarts and with those characters feels like going home to your best friends," wrote fabrar