Like Sarah, when I feel like the world is going mad and I am struggling to see much good in it at all, I tend to turn to my books. But not just any book. Usually what I want in those moments is something to pull me into a world of wonder and fantasy or science fiction. Something to remind me that there is still good in the world.
And here, I will simply quote Sarah, who also quotes Tolkien:
"My best beloved stories are the ones in whose vision of the world I can dwell as in a shelter. I love books that allow me to see the beauty of the world afresh through their words, whose narrated worlds reaffirm the possibility in my own. Tolkien made quick, scornful work of the critics who accused readers of fantasy or fiction of ‘escapism’. The critics, huffed Tolkien, confuse ‘the escape of the prisoner with the flight of the deserter’. We read fantastical tales and imagined worlds not to escape reality, but to discover it afresh. When our capacity to see and wonder has been diminished by exhaustion, grief, or boredom, a fairy tale (or any good novel in my opinion) puts us in an imagined world where we realize anew ‘the potency of words, and the wonder of things such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass; house and fire; bread and wine.’ (From the essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’.) Tolkien’s word for it was Recovery. Recovery of vision, of wonder, of hope. And the books I read for comfort are the ones whose worlds help me to win back my own sense of wonder and with it, my will to create, to love, to work once more in my own circle of days."So here are some of the first books, or, well, series of books, that spring to my mind when I think of comfort books:
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (no surprise there, right?)
- A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the series by Madeline L’Engle
- The Cosmic Trilogy/Ransom Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
- The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
These are all books I find myself returning to time and time again like old friends.
What are your comfort books?