jeudi 23 juin 2011

Comfort Reads

I am a fan of comfort – in clothes, shoes, food, and even books.  If ever I am suffering with a cold, a hangover or existential angst, I have a favourite little collection of books that are guaranteed to make me feel better.  The literary equivalent to being under a blanket with a small dog and a plate of toast and Marmite – and if you can swing it so that you actually get those things in real life, then all the better.

In the interests of your health and wellbeing, I thought I’d share…

Peerless Flats by Esther Freud
Like most of hers, it’s a slim, elegant read, and it’s not exactly heavy on the action.  Lisa is such a lovely heroine, though, she always cheers me right up – as does Max, the naughty fox.  If you’re feeling bored and out of sorts, what better to read about than another girl being bored and out of sorts, too?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My childhood favourite, and probably that of most girls with a bookish bent (as we all want to be Jo, of course).  There’s nearly always an element of nostalgia to comfort, isn’t there?  I could read this over and over again, forever.

Dolce Vita by Iseult Teran
This is another bored/out of sorts classic – but while Lisa of Peerless Flats feels like she could be your best school friend, Una of Dolce Vita is way cooler and more glamorous than anyone you’ve ever met in your life.  This is an aspirational sort of comfort that just might cheer you up into putting on some lipstick and hitting the town after all.  Bonus points for its in-plot inclusion of ‘Terms of Endearment’ – a classic comfort/cathartic film if ever there was one.  Finally, if you like this, see also: Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan and The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
I love Cassandra and I love Topaz even more.  If you’re anything like me, you will never want this book to end – or, better yet, you’ll actually want to live in said castle with the wonderful Mortmains.

Rivals by Jilly Cooper
Any Jilly would do, but this is surely the best one.  A stone-cold classic to get totally lost in.  Taggie and Caitlin are the two best sisters in modern literature!  For something skinnier and demolishable in an hour or two, any of the ‘name’ books are a delight.  My personal favourite is Prudence, closely followed by Harriet.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Just on the right side of twee, for if you’re in the mood for something frothy-light, like the world’s most beautiful salad for lunch on a hot day.  My copy even has charming little line drawings by way of illustration.  However, despite its feathery consistency, I must admit that I was rooting for the title character to win the day so much by the end that it assumed all the qualities of high drama.  Luckily, future readings were less stressful and I assure you not to worry.

No-one Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
Even the title is comforting!  Short stories for when perfectly-formed bite-sized morsels are all you can handle.  Primarily known as a filmmaker, this has Miranda July’s distinctive and charming fingerprints all over it.  Each and every one of the stories is witty and wise, but I think ‘Something That Needs Nothing’ is my most-read favourite.  I also, obviously, love ‘I Kiss A Door’, because it’s about a girl called Eleanor who’s in a band and owns the perfect coat.  I once had a dream where I married Keith Richards and owned the perfect coat.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo
A weird inclusion, perhaps, but if ever you need something to take your mind off it all – this is just the ticket you’ve been looking for.  It’s pulpy in all the best ways and is the very definition of a page-turner.  The first time I read it, I stayed up for twenty-four hours straight just to find out what happened in the end.  This may sound extra-weird but, here goes: if you liked this, read Jackie Collins’s early Lucky books; everyone presumes that she writes steamy romance novels, but actually she cites The Godfather as her greatest inspiration and (at least early on) it shows.  Just with (a lot) more sex.

The Complete Journals of Sylvia Plath
Because sometimes wallowing is the only way forward, and there’s something surprisingly uplifting about this.

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