Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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What do you re-read for comfort?

This post by Liz Bourke at tor.com makes some choices that seem strange to me.

Like, Chalion? Okay, check, the Chalion series by LMB could count as comfort reads. I can understand that.

But, STAY by Niccola Griffith? It’s a very intense book. That whole series is very intense. I loved it, oddly particularly the middle book, which I have re-read several times. But it is so not a comfort read.

Of course, carefully reading Liz Bourke’s post, I see that she doesn’t exactly consider that one a comfort read, exactly.

Anyway, I totally agree with this bit:

Rereading a familiar book is like revisiting that first great escape, that sense of liberation, without any of the apprehension that can attend on reading a novel for the first time. (Will it be any good? Will I like it? Will terrible things befall these characters I’ve come to care about? With a reread, all these questions are already answered.)

Yes, sometimes that is indeed exactly what you want.

For me, LMB’s Sharing Knife series fits the bill for a comfort read more than any of her other works. If I’ve got a cold or the flu, it’s one I’m particularly likely to reach for, and how could you better define a comfort novel? And Shinn’s Elemental Blessings novels, those are quintessential comfort reads for me. And, yes, in fact, The Goblin Emperor, which I have already gone back to and it only came out last year. Oh, Andrea Host’s Touchstone trilogy! That’s a comfort read now, particularly the Gratuitous Epilogue, which was warm and fuzzy even the first time I read it.

On the other hand, Ancillary Justice, no. I will probably re-read that series from the top next year when the third book comes out, and I will enjoy it, but not as comfort reads in any sense.

I will also almost certainly wait till Wexler’s series is finished and then re-read from the top, because I was just thinking the other day about how much I am looking forward to re-reading The Thousand Names. But even though I will be happily confident that everything will in fact work out in the first book, I won’t consider that a comfort read, either. Though I will totally enjoy it. A word of warning: I saw somewhere that the third book ends on a cliffhanger. Hence waiting for the fourth.

How about you? Comfort reads versus books that you definitely enjoy re-reading but would NOT consider comfort reads?

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7 Comments What do you re-read for comfort?

  1. David H.

    I haven’t done much rereading in the last few years (usually because there’s too much new to read), but I practically grew up on David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and so I love her and all the other characters there.

    But a REAL comfort read for me now that I think about it would be Lackey’s Valdemar books… especially the Storm trilogy, I think, with Karal the Karsite priest as one of the main characters. Love love love him.

    I actually just reread Louis Sachar novels and “Holes” and “Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes” really worked for me.

  2. Elaine T

    My comfort rereads are Bujold’s SHARING KNIFE, especially book 3, assorted McKillip (varies), assorted Neumeier, early Lee & Miller Liaden novels.

  3. Sarah

    The Blue Sword by McKinley, Sorcery and Cecilia by Wrede and Stevermer, A College of Magics by Stevermer. I do re-read Dune, but I don’t consider that a comfort read.

  4. Karen K

    I have a very long list of comfort reads: Janet Kagan _Hellspark_, Liaden stories by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, _Dragonflight_ and _Dragonsong_ and _Dragonsinger_ by Ann McCaffrey, Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings and _Heart of Gold_ and _Wrapt in Crystal_, Anne Bishop’s books in The Others series, most of Patricia Briggs’ non-Mercy Thompson books plus a few from the Mercy Thompson series and Ilona Andrews’ _Gunmetal Magic_. Oh! Almost forgot Gail Carriger’s _Crudrat_. I am sure that there are others that I am forgetting…

  5. Kootch

    Comfort reads, lemme see – LMB’s Sharing Knife series, The Goblin Emperor, your House of Shadows, CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series, Eric Flint’s 1632 series, Anne Bishop’s The Others series, LMB’s A Civil Campaign, most of Sharon Shinn, anything by Martha Wells, Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

  6. Rachel

    Robin McKinley is another comfort read for me, glad to see her mentioned in the comments. She’s another one I reach for when I’m actually ill, luckily not something that’s happened a lot lately. I agree with Sarah, I might re-read Dune, but hardly as a comfort read. Sure been a long time since I last re-read it, too.

    You know, I never actually read Lackey’s Valdemar books? Shocking, I know.

    I’m happy to see Karen agrees with me about the Elemental Blessings series. Warm. Fuzzy.

    I agree with those of you who mentioned the Liaden stories, especially the early ones. I’m behind in that series now, but I like the earlier ones better anyway. And yes, I can see that Bishops’ The Others series might fall into the comfort read category, too.

    For me, I really like Martha Wells’ books, I like them even better re-reading than I did the first time through, but I wouldn’t say they were comfort reads for me. Not sure why not, but they don’t have the warm feeling that say, Troubled Waters had even the first time I read it.

    And nice to hear some of you adding some of my books to the comfort-read category! *That* is a different kind of warm fuzzy feeling.

    Except Cloud Roads. That may actually be a comfort read now. I think I’ve read it three or four times now?

  7. Maureen E

    The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, The Queen’s Thief books by Megan Whalen Turner, the later Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. Hmmm. Some of McKillip. A Civil Campaign and Captain’s Vorpatril’s Alliance (I do re-read more Bujold than those two, but not for comfort). Definitely Laura Florand!

    Oddly enough, The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein is a major comfort re-read for me despite being fairly Harrowing objectively.

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