Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Top Ten Comfort Reads

I’m doing a twist on a meme I picked up from Chachic’s Book Nook.

Not so much top ten light-and-fluffy reads, but the top ten for comfortable books when you just don’t want to read some complicated politics-heavy epic, or figure out a new complicated secondary world. You know, the kind of book you pick up one more time because you know you can open it anywhere, fall right into the story, and will wind up reading the whole thing again even if you didn’t really mean to.

For me, those would be — and I’m going to be pretty casual about lumping multiple books into one category, here — in no special order:

1. Anything by Robin McKinley, especially The Blue Sword and Beauty

2. Anything by Sarah Addison Allen, but especially The Girl Who Chased the Moon

3. Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially The Sharing Knife series

4. Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones

5. Jhereg and Yendi by Steven Brust

6. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

7. Watership Down by Richard Adams

8. Anything by Gillian Bradshaw, but especially A Beacon at Alexandria and Island of Ghosts

9. Chanur’s Legacy by CJ Cherryh — this one, on a smaller scale and with less at stake than the original Chanur series, works for me as a light comfort read.

10. Anything by Terry Pratchett, though for me a lot of those are books to listen to, not books to read. Just finishing the last Tiffany Aching book now!

Oh! And one more because why not?

11. Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

How about you, what’s your top comfort read? Any of the above?

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8 Comments Top Ten Comfort Reads

  1. elaine t

    Any McKillip. Any Bujold, although lately I’ve been gravitating to SHARING KNIFE, especially vol 3. CITY IN THE LAKE. Shinn’s Troubled Waters. Bradshaw’s WOLF HUNT and BEARKEEPER’S DAUGHTER. Which is weird because I didn’t think I liked BKD when I first read it, but I keep going back to it. ISLAND OF GHOSTS was much more approachable, but I reread it much less, however much I love individual scenes. (“yes I drank out of skull cups..” :-)) Various CJCs, they vary, sometimes a Chanur, or Rider, sometimes a Fortress, sometimes FORGE OF HEAVEN or CUCKOO’s EGG.

    Oh, I was just on her publishing website, Closed Circle and there’a an Atevi short for sale, “Deliberations A brand new Foreigner short story from the pre-Bren era—JUST pre-Bren. Barely.”

  2. Chachic

    You know I was thinking about the difference between comfort reads and light and fun while I was working on my post last night. Because some (politically or emotionally) heavy books become comforting depending on how familiar the reader is with the story. Anyway, I agree with your Robin McKinley and Sarah Addison Allen picks. And DWJ but Howl’s Moving Castle for me, I still need to read Dogsbody.

  3. Cheryl L

    My list would be:

    Anything by McKillip
    Anything by Peter Beagle
    Robin McKinley’s early novels
    All of Pamela Dean’s novels
    Connie Willis’ shorter novels (I love the long ones too, but don’t class them as “comfort” reads)
    BITING THE SUN by Tanith Lee
    Ellen Kushner’s SWORDSPOINT
    Elizabeth Marie Pope’s THE SHERWOOD RING and THE PERILOUS GARD
    Barry Hughart’s BRIDGE OF BIRDS
    SORCERY & CECILIA by Wrede and Stevermer

  4. Rachel

    Yes, I thought how weird it would be to add that I can dip into the intensely complicated Foreigner books by CJ Cherryh as comfort reads. I mean, seriously, the Foreigner universe? But I’ve read the whole series three times, so for me it is familiar enough to be a comfort read even though it is so long and complex.

  5. Rachel

    I’m flattered to see CITY up there on your list! Thanks! For me, CJC can be a comfort read, but not FORGE or CUCKOO’S EGG — I particularly love the latter title, but I always start at the beginning and read it attentively, which isn’t necessarily the case with a comfort book for me.

    Thanks for the tip about the Foreigner short story; I’ll go look that up.

  6. Rachel

    Okay, Cheryl, you are so right, definitely Bridge of Birds and that whole trilogy! And Sorcery & Cecilia, I’m right there for those.

    Maybe I had better think of looking up Biting the Sun, but I haven’t been too happy with Tanith Lee in the past. And it’s been a looong time since I read anything by Pamela Dean.

  7. Cheryl L

    Tanith Lee writes in a variety of modes. She is mainly known for her dark fantasy/horror novels, but she also writes really good lighter work (mainly aimed at a YA audience). Her Unicorn and Piratica series are examples. BITING THE SUN was published as an adult novel because it pre-dates the YA category, but it would be marketed as YA if it came out today.

    It’s a looong time since Pamela Dean published anything!

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