Why You Need A Stack Of Comforting Books To Read When You're Sick — And How To Choose Them
I've been feeling sick the last couple of days. Nothing major, just some uncomfortable symptoms that have made my days a bit of a drag. And we've all been there, right? Cold and coughs, tummy troubles, general aches and pains... mild and temporary sickness is, thankfully, always on the way out and we can look forward to feeling back to normal relatively soon. But waiting for it to get to that stage can sometimes be the hardest part of all. In the meantime, I've been itching more than ever to hunker down with a few of my favorite TV shows or movies and, of course, a gigantic stack of comfort reads.
What are comfort reads, you ask? Simply put, these are the books that I turn to when I'm down in the dumps. When I'm sick or anxious or sad, these tried and true reads will always help lift my spirits. Because nothing is ever going to give you that shot of "Everything is going to be okay" like a truly beloved book. They're all rereads, naturally, books that I know I can find just as much enjoyment in the second, third, fourth time as I did the first. My list is also a little bit random, with books taken from different seasons in my personal and reading life... and not all of my favorites are included among them.
See, the thing about comfort reads is that you can't just go to your shelf and pick your favorite books of all time. I adore The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, but I wouldn't exactly call that a warm and cozy read. Maybe you're obsessed with Game Of Thrones but page after page of death and violence aren't exactly your idea of a pick-me-up. Plain and simple, these books need to make you smile, make you laugh, make you cry, make you snuggle down on the couch or in bed and read the entire thing to your heart's content. They don't have to be "great" in the award-winning, revered sense of the word. They just have to speak to your soul on a very personal level.
If you don't already have a pile of comfort reads you can pick up, my only question is, "What are you doing with your life?!" If you're in need of a list to call your very own, but you're not sure which reads should be on it, here are my own six comfort reads and why I chose them. Hopefully this will give you some feel better soon inspiration.
1'Anna And The French Kiss' by Stephanie Perkins
OK, so I re-read Anna and the French Kiss at least once a year, anyway. But it is still one of my mainstay comfort reads, for a few reasons. First, it is set in Paris, which I am definitely not getting to while I am laid up in bed feeling gross. Stephanie Perkins wrote Paris in such a way that it became this vibrant character all its own, and from the moment Anna Oliphant arrived there I could see every single scene as if it was a movie. Second, it's hella adorable and romantic and the characters will creep their way into your heart and burrow in and never leave.
So, for your first comfort read I would suggest something that either brings you to a new and exciting place, or one that gets all up in your feels and doesn't let go. Bonus points if it can do both. Who doesn't want a little adventure and a lot of *squee* when they're stuck in bed?
2'Anne Of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
I used to watch the PBS miniseries of Anne of Green Gables over and over as a kid, but I didn't read the books it was based on until adulthood. I'm sort of glad I went that route though, because I know that I can appreciate Anne's very particular way of looking at life so much more now than I would have when I was 10. This series, and in particular the first book, are full of Anne's unending optimism, her moxie and determination, her ruminations on family and friendship, and her sweet romantic nature. There are uplifiting Pinterest-worthy quotes for days, but none of them feel trite. Instead they are just comforting enough when you need them the most. Plus, Gilbert Blythe... enough said.
You'll definitely want to grab a book for your comfort reads that has either an uplifting message or a super cute cast of characters that will get your mind thinking on the positives in life and not the fact that you're sick in bed.
3'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl is another one of those books that I reread every single year without fail. It's just one of those reads that I can completely lose myself in, with characters I love and root for, who are living real lives I can relate to, and just a tiny bit of fandom magic thrown in to make things really fun and entertaining. Every single time I read it I fall more in love with Cath and Wren, Reagan and Levi...these people who are flawed and wonderful, smart and funny, sweet and charming, and just trying to get through the day like every one else.
For your next comfort read, I definitely suggest choosing a book that errs on the side of realistic: characters whose lives are not perfect, romances that are not starry-eyed and soul mate from the first look, but whose stories nevertheless have happy endings. There's nothing more comforting than seeing yourself in that.
4'Confessions Of A Shopaholic' by Sophie Kinsella
I don't really believe in Guilty Pleasures (just like what you like, it's OK!) but if I did, the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella would definitely be one of mine. Like a modern day Lucy Ricardo (another thing I turn to for comfort, by the way...a nice binge watch of I Love Lucy) gets herself into the kind of mischief you hope to never go through yourself, but which you can't help simultaneously cringing and laughing about. It's charmingly British, a ton of fun, heartwarming and, yes, eventually super romantic. I unabashedly love the first few books in this series, and will always reread the first one on a comfort reads day.
So, my advice? That book you're just a little embarrassed to tell your co-worker you love? Get it off your shelf and read the heck out of it. It's a day for you to indulge in everything that makes you feel a little bit better about being in the world, so go for it! No shame in your game.
5'The Jeeves And Wooster Books' by P.G. Wodehouse
I don't remember what first prompted me to pick up a Jeeves book. No doubt I read about it on a book list somewhere (because if you couldn't tell by my backlog of articles on Bustle... I pretty much LIVE for lists) and it sounded just classic and funny enough to warrant and trip to the bookstore. But, listen to me reader fam... if you like books that are witty and endlessly hilarious and so simply brilliant in their plotting as to leave you in awe (while still clutching your side from laughing) by the end of it...go get yourself a book by P.G Wodehouse. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest humor writers ever, and I can definitely contest to that fact. Nothing makes the world seem sunnier than a book where everything always turns out right in the end.
I'm going to say that you just need to get a Jeeves book on your comfort reads list, but in general grab something that makes you laugh! After all, they do say that laughter is the best medicine.
6'The Harry Potter Series' by J.K. Rowling
To me it is obvious that Harry and the gang are the most warmth-inducing, comforting reads I will ever encounter, but it's still worth repeating. The magic of these books followed me from my pre-teen years all the way through college, and I have since reread them all more times than I can count. They bring to mind early summer morning running to the store for the latest release, and the mad rush over the next couple of days to finish it before I could get spoiled. It's magic and storylines I know like the back of my hand and characters who have almost become family.
For you, Harry Potter might carry the same level of warmth. Or maybe it's another book from your childhood. It's pages are weathered, its cover torn, and you can almost recite it line for line. Whatever book it is for you, get it on your stack of comfort reads, ASAP. If all else fails, this one will not, trust me.