From Molly Templeton at tor.com: What Makes a Story Comforting?
There are common elements to a lot of lists about comfort stories—happy endings, warm fuzzies, sweeping love affairs, lack of strife, familiarity, escapism—and I’ve written before about how those don’t often say “comfort” to me. When I want to escape and be comforted, I’ve sought out a specific kind of reassurance generally found in stories about people who are having a very bad time, a time much worse than anything I’ll ever have to deal with.
But it turns out that at a moment when my own life is full of uncertainty and anxiety, maybe I do want a certain kind of comfort. Not escape to somewhere strange, but a visit to somewhere familiar; not a story with a happy ending, necessarily, but one that offers both closure and change.
What I want is to be reminded that things can be different than they are right now.
My reaction to the idea that a comfort read can be about “people who are having a very bad time, a time much worse than anything I’ll ever have to deal with,” is AAAAGH NO. However, I like this idea about this other kind of comfort read that might offer both closure and change. That’s interesting (and a whole lot more appealing).
You have to rest, physically and mentally and emotionally. When you need that rest, maybe ask yourself: What does comfort look like to me? What book (or show, or movie) tells the story I need to hear right now? What promises do I want it to make for me? What do I need to be reminded of?
Books can open doors, but they can also close them, softly and firmly, when you need to leave the world outside for a little while.
Very nice! I like that idea too — what promises do I want the story to make for me right now, what do I want to be reminded of, what doors do I want to have closed between me and the world?
I don’t think I’d intersect with this author on very many “comfort reads” or shows or whatever, but I do like some of her turns of phrase.
Also, the first comment includes a mention of Summers at Castle Auburn as a comfort read where “people get soft landings,” which you know what, I need to bring that book upstairs and put it on the coffee table, where it will bug me until hopefully I re-read it. I’ve seen this particular book mentioned in this context more than once, I believe some commenters here point to it now and then. Although I read it once, I remember practically nothing about it.