comfort (and joy) – notes from a year of comfort reading

From December 2011.
My Bookmas tree from December 2011.

The thing with writing about books is the difficulty of taking your initial reaction to a book (“I liked it”) and spinning it like wool; turning it, teasing it and twisting it around and around upon itself until it’s something more refined.

You can consider this post unspun, still warm from the shearing shed. Which allows me to say – it’s been an absolute shit of a year. well, for me, at least. It’s not that I’m being overly dramatic, or too harsh on myself. 2013 has been something else entirely. Quite simply, a shit of a year.

I really wanted to write one of those Best Of 2013 lists that everyone else is doing, but I’m not sure I’ve read enough. According to Goodreads, I’ve read a miserable total of twenty-two books in 2013. And that figure includes at least five novellas. Oh dear.

What’s missing from Goodreads, however, is the number of books I’ve re-read this year.

So much of this year’s reading has been comfort reading.

Earlier this month (but already, it feels like such a long time ago) on a Sunday afternoon, I found myself packing my bag for a trip to my hometown in Victoria. Not to go home for Christmas, but for a much sadder occasion – my lovely grandmother’s funeral.

After I took my black d9781444720747ress from the wardrobe, I went straight to my bookshelf to select a few books to take with me. Books that might provide some kind of solace, or even just distract me for a few hours. My choices were almost entirely books I’ve already read.

I’ve been back in Sydney for just over a week now. I’m still, slowly, thinking things through, trying to prevent falling back into the rhythm of work and Christmas and expectations. To that effect, I’ve just finished re-reading Howards End, and it really is absolute perfection. It’s every bit the book I remember: not only a cracker of a novel but a guidebook to life and how to live it properly.

The thing with comfort reading when you’re vulnerable is that you know exactly what you’re going to get. There’s less chance of something unexpected sneaking up on you and breaking your heart into pieces. So often this year, the book that’s found its way onto my bedside table has been one with an already-creased spine and dog-eared pages. A trusted old friend.

It’s nice having old friends to turn to when I need them. But it’s about time I pushed my shyness aside and made some new friends, too.

anotherpileofbooksThis poor blog has been floundering for far too long. In 2014, I’ll be getting right to the heart of what Book to the Future is about. Or rather, what it’s meant to be about.

Next year, I’m going back to where I left off and reviewing books from the twentieth century again. I’m not quite sure how I’ll manage juggling reviews of recently-published books with reviews of books published in the sixties and seventies…but it’ll be fun finding out.

2014 will be a year of trying new things. New approaches to writing, new ideas, new places, new people…and new books.

A new year. I’m looking forward to it. Are you?

To everyone who’s read one of my reviews, posted a comment, emailed, Twittered, Facebooked – anything! – a great big, heartfelt thank you to you all.

Here’s wishing you the happiest of happy new years.

Michelle

Author: Michelle

Reader, writer, wannabe. Literary critic (with training wheels on). Blogging my way through the 20th century's classic novels in chronological order.

6 thoughts on “comfort (and joy) – notes from a year of comfort reading”

  1. Hello Michelle, I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and I’m sorry to be responding late. I’m not sure how this has happened (laptop upgrade maybe?) but I seem not to have been receiving notification of your posts.
    I see from your later post that you are looking forward to the new year with renewed optimism so I hope that time and the comfort of friends and family (as well as lovely books) is helping. All the best, Lisa

  2. Dear Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear you had such a difficult year, and sorry for the loss of your grandmother too. I know exactly what you mean about comfort reading – a much loved book is always a solace. The book I most love to re-read is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. And don’t beat yourself up for not reading many new things – to everything there is a season. Hope 2014 is a much brighter one for you, whatever it holds.

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