Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Comfort Reading

Recently I finished a book which made my heart hurt, my eyes leak and filled me with ballistic rage.



I knew it would do all of those things.  The book was written by two mothers whose husbands killed their children and made abortive (and half-hearted) suicide attempts.

So why did I read it?  No, I am not addicted to misery memoirs though I have read a number of them.  Domestic violence calls, be it physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse, are among those which I find hardest on the crisis lines.  Not least because ordinarily the cycle seems to be stuck on repeat.

So, I read this book to learn more about why people stay, and about what responses might be helpful (or not).  Nothing new came out of it, but it was still an education.

When I finished I needed to go somewhere more pleasant in my head.

So I picked up a book I have read many times before, and will almost certainly read again.


It is a children's book - and a delight.
The heroine is a princess.  She is neither golden-haired nor conventional.  Rebelling against etiquette lessons, she learns fencing.  When she is told that this is not 'proper behaviour' and her fencing lessons are stopped, she takes up cooking.  Then magic, Latin and economics.

Despairing, her family decide to marry her off to a neighbouring prince.  Eligible, but not very bright.  Needless to say this doesn't suit our princess either.

So she runs away from home and volunteers to become a Dragon's princess.  Unconventional again.  Princesses are captured - they don't volunteer.

Her adventures and her ingenuity in facing challenges is a whole lot of fun.  And I have a weakness for dragons anyway.

Do you read for comfort?  And, if so, what sort of books do you turn to? 

102 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Delores: It is fun. The first (and I think best) in a series.

      Delete
  2. P.G.Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome,Kenneth Grahame...all from my childhood. Also, Damon Runyon, sometimes Thurber.And Adams and Lloyd "Meaning of Liff" is always within arm's reach. So...my comfort reads are humour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dunahmow: And most of those are comfort reads for me too. I don't know (I think) Damon Runyon. Love the rest.

      Delete
  3. I can't read for longer than 15 minutes at a time due to MS eyes. I don't read much anymore, but I think I may pick up Dealing with Dragons for Beep!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen: I am so sorry that MS eyes have stolen reading from you. I hope Beep does like it. And will share it with you.

      Delete
  4. I don't think I could read the first book you've shown. I'd get far too upset and far too angry. Already just thinking about it has made my stomach tighten.

    Domestic violence is a scourge on society. Such men are cowards...oh...please...don't let me get started....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee: I feel as you do on the domestic violence front. But need to have as much as I can in my head and heart to respond to callers.

      Delete
  5. We all need comfort reading at times and it is really good to have a stock on hand. My personal tub of ice-cream orcookie jar is Georgette Hayer's Historical romances. Historically they are very well researched, her tome on the Battle of Waterloo is mandatory reading for Sandhurst. Her characters are drawn with depth and humour and her occasional thrillers in this metier are gripping.
    Eva Ibbotson also fits the bill but for different reasons. She mainly writes about an era I know well an likewise places and customs. Her books like Hayer's are written by very intelligent women.
    Of course the Hobbit books, I must have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 10 times and still gain some new nuance from it. J.K.Rawlings, although many aspects of the Harry Potter books draw on older stories, still is a wonderful escape.
    Then there are favourite children's book starting with the Narnia series and too many others to name.
    A lot of them have been so well read that I have to put them aside until I no longer anticipate every word :).
    Isn't it wonderful that we have the security blanket of escapism to put a dash of whipped cream with Cointreau in it on the hum drum coffee of our lives?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arija: I also read Georgette Heyer's romances, and less often her murder mysteries. Clever fun. I don't know Eva Ibbotson, and will track her down. Thank you.

      Delete
  6. More than one kid's book. To mind come The Sun on the Stubble, Wind in the Willows and maybe not quite a kid's book, The Cousin from Fiji.

    In my very early years I used to wonder why women stayed in abusive relationships. I understand much better now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew: More escapism I share. Including The Cousin from Fiji. I have, and love a book of his cats too.
      Logically I do understand why women stay - but emotionally I have difficulties still.

      Delete
  7. I just went to my library website and put a hold on that book. I am second in line! It sounds like just the thing to read for the times, EC. Thank you! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DJan: It is so much fun. I gave it to a friend for Christmas last year or the one before.

      Delete
  8. I mean the second book! The first one sounds very difficult, and that's not what I need right now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read inspirational stories, self help, historical fiction, light romance, and anything else that catches my fancy. I avoid stories that upset me, unless like you, it is for research. Problem for me is, those troubling scenes haunt me for days and weeks, like a broken record in my brain. Kids books are always fun, I especially like the series of stories about Skippy Jon Jones, the Siamese cat who wants to be a Chihuahua!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debora: I am going to have to check out the books about a cat who wants to go slumming. Turning into a dog has to be a downgrade in most cats eyes. Particularly in a Siamese cats eyes.

      Delete
  10. I was wondering today if scheffleras are popular indoor plants in Australia, and I knew you would be just the person to ask. Here, they're among the most popular of potted plants, especially for lobbies and other places where a big plant is wanted.

    Men don't generally go at suicide half-heartedly, so I wonder what that was about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Snowbrush: Scheffleras are popular in lobbies and public venues, but I don't see them often in people's homes. Perhaps in the warmer parts of Oz.
      I think the half-heartedness of these 'gentlemen's' suicide attempts related to the fact that both of them really wanted to see the impact that their actions had on their wives. And one at least admitted it.

      Delete
    2. "I think the half-heartedness of these 'gentlemen's' suicide attempts related to the fact that both of them really wanted to see the impact that their actions had on their wives."

      It was clearly a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it too--ha.

      I guess scheffleras are a bit big for a lot of homes. In an event, they're popular in lobbies over here too.

      Delete
    3. Snowbrush: I really, really don't think that they should have had that cake. And I am sorry that it didn't poison them.

      Delete
    4. Dear EC, to think those men would rather see how their wives suffer than actually successfully take their own lives is such an appalling thought. On top of the already unforgivable deeds they committed. No wonder I keep returning to children's books for solace.

      Delete
    5. Carol: I find evil like these men almost incomprehensible. I know that it happens, but fail to understand how anyone can put themselves so far above anyone else. Dangerous arrogance. And children's books are a big winner in this house too.

      Delete
  11. "Wind in the willows" is my no.1 comfort read, as it was my favourite book as a child. I find the characters, the poetry of the writing and the lovely sense of Edwardian England all very cheering. The Faber Book of Children's Verse, given to me by my Mum in 1966, is another. It's full of old Scots ballads, sagas such as the Ancient Mariner and wonderful nonsense poetry. Pure magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lynners: I have a LOT of comfort reads. The Moomintroll series are another. And Tove Jansen's Summer Book too. And a memoir by one of Charles Darwin's grandaughers. And the list goes on.

      Delete
  12. I'm going to check out both the books you spoke of today. For comfort (& silliness) have you ever read "The Phantom Tollbooth"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. fishducky: Read it, and have it. I obviously have a LOT of comfort reading. And silliness doesn't go astray either.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I LOVE The Phantom Tollbooth. So much fun.

      Also, any Mrs. Piggle Wiggle story still cracks me up.

      Delete
    3. Ms. CrankyPants: Love live our inner children.

      Delete
  13. not sure I have a certain type of book I go towards, but definitely morbid things that are true I read for the psychological "why's". thanks for stopping by my blog and supporting Al's interview! now, you have a new follower :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tammy Theriault: I have many, many types of books I go towards. Eclectic? Greedy is a better description. Thank you for becoming a follower - I hope you find things to amuse/entertain you.

      Delete
  14. EC, well done you for being brave enough to be on the front line. I love reading children's lit ~ and it is something I should do more of with a whole school library at hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol in Cairns: Not on the front line, watching those who are there. Reaching out when I can. And yay for children's literature.

      Delete
  15. One of my comfort reads is The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, I was quite a bit past childhood when I discovered it, but it comforts me to read children and teens discovering the magic within them to overcome problems.
    I worry sometimes about you answering lifeline calls, it must be so very stressful and it doesn't surprise me in the least that you plant so much beauty in your garden. I'm sure it's some kind of release for you to get down in the dirt, I know that planting and weeding helps me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: Another book I had not heard of. Thank you so much - I am really enjoying reading about other people's comfort reads.
      I get a great deal more out of LL than I give. Yes, it can be stressful - but more so for the people enduring the pain first hand.

      Delete
  16. I could never read that first book, but the second one sounds delightful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Delightful is a wonderful description of it. It is.

      Delete
  17. For some reason, I have read "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon over and over. So I would call that a comfort book, I guess. It's a memoir of his time on the road, when he had no reason not to take a personal journey. I've often wished I could just take off like that (while keeping in touch with friends and family, of course.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn: Ooh, another treat in store for me some day - thank you.

      Delete
  18. I am usually a voracious reader, but I haven't picked up a book in ages. I need to get back on track. The first book would be a tough one to read but the second one sounds a delightful story, I might get it. Thanks for these book reviews.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DeniseinVA: The first was tough. And haunts me still. And the second is a heap of fun.

      Delete
  19. Oh, I will have to track down both of those books! To say I read a lot is a bit of an understatement, but I don't read as much as I could. There are always things to do, and sometimes, too, I find I can't seem to sit still for long periods, so I read in bursts. But I'm always in the middle of a book. Half my head is always in a book, and even when I don't actually have the book open in front of me, my mind is often inside it anyway; thinking about it, wondering what will happen next, caring about the characters (if it's fiction). Reading is a habit, just like drugs. Even if I don't do it all the time, CAN'T do it all the time, getting my next fix is always in the back of my mind. There's a reason why people like me are called biblioholics. :-)

    My favourite books are historical biographies and fiction - the kind of thing that Hilary Mantel does so well. I'm in the middle of "I am Malala" at the moment. It's not particularly well written, but her story is inspiring and the glimpse into her world quite fascinating. Other interesting reads lately have been Khaled Hosseini's "And the Mountains Echoed" and a very poignant non-fiction work by a favourite author - Elizabeth McCracken's "An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination". It's sad book and it made me cry. It made me laugh, too, and it made me angry and fierce and tender and thoughtful. I hope that if something that tragic ever happens to me I will be able to handle it and write about it with as much grace and directness and humour and love as she did. Other than that, it's been gardening porn this year as I attempt to wrestle a blooming paradise out of a bare piece of earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marie: If I read as much as I wanted nothing else would get done. Ever. And I am loving that so many people here in the blogosphere are nudging me (again) in the direction of books I haven't yet read (I will track down Elizabeth McCracken) and reminding me of things I love and haven't visited for a while. And yes on the garden porn front.

      Delete
    2. Another couple I recently read and which you may enjoy (and boy what eye openers they were!): ‘The Stalking of Julia Gillard’ by Kerry Anne Walsh and ‘Shitstorm” by Lenore Taylor and David Uren. A friend in Adelaide sent both to me and I was both enthralled and totally horrified. I'm glad I live so far away these days.

      Delete
    3. Marie: I have seen the first (and will succumb). The second is new to me, and I will track it down. Thank you.

      Delete
    4. I recommend both of them. The first is about what most of us suspected was happening and even though we all knew that Rudd was manipulating things behind the scenes he was doing so much more! ‘Shitstorm” is about Rudd’s darkest days - he really is quite a cunning and unlikeable man.

      Delete
    5. Marie: Thank you. He really was a cunning manipulator wasn't he? The first I will certainly read, but I will need to be strong to have my worst suspicions confirmed in Shitstorm.

      Delete
  20. Thank you. My granddaughters have not read the dragon books, and will get them for Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanne Noragon: I do hope they like them.

      Delete
  21. Thank you EC for supporting others with such compassion, diligence and love. I hope your shelves are over-flowing with comfort reads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim: Thank you. Oh yes, my shelves are groaning. Lots and lots and lots of books and many comfort reads in there.

      Delete
  22. That sounds delightful! I'll have to add it to my toppling pile of books - fortunately, no longer a physical pile but digital. ;)

    I do comfort reading quite often. I love go-to books that can be read over and over. My favorite series has dragons too! Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River Fairchild: Snap on the Dragonriders of Pern. Of course.

      Delete
  23. I dropped by to return the blog visit and thank you for both your comment and congratulations on my book!

    Book lover and collector that I am (paper kind), I definitely read for comfort. Currently, its an old favorite, On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leigh: Welcome - and I hope your book goes gang-busters. And hooray for another paper book afficianado.

      Delete
  24. Ah yes, I do just the same. I balance the content of my tomes. My comfort reads being; All Moomintroll Books, anything by Terry Pratchett, Calvin and Hobbes, and 'The Hitchiker's Guide to the Universe' by the wonderful and most missed Douglas Adams.Then there's one called 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley- tis a huge book,an 'Arthurian' fantasy full of magic, a twisting tale that holds me captive away from the real world completely. Also 'The Covenant' and 'Hawaii' by James Michener, and 'The Stand' - Stephen King. Great question to ask folks, I'll read everyone else's with interest *smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All Consuming: It is a long time since I have read Michener - though Hawaii is one I remember. Stephen King I have never warmed to, but ALL of your other comfort reads are here.

      Delete
  25. I too read for comfort. Anything and everything that captures my imagination :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam:): How nice to know that comfort readers thrive.

      Delete
  26. It looks like it a real story, but reading, well, I cannot do it, ha ha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob Bushell: I cannot imagine my life without books. To each their own though.

      Delete
  27. I don't remember knowing that you manned a Crisis phone ... I always knew you were a special person, but the more I learn about you the more I am convinced that you must be an angel in disguise. You give me so much hope. I keep thinking the human race is not living up to what it should be ... and then I read one of your posts and I know that there are those of you out there who know what life is about and care about people and nature and all of the important aspects that should be our priorities.

    Your first book is one I don't know if I could read. At this point in my life I escape to my books for relief ... this sounds like I would need to escape from it. The second childs book sounds like a joy and I will go out and find a copy for myself and for my daughter, who, in many ways, is still a child. We will both enjoy it immensely.
    I hope you and the SP are fairing well. You don't say much, so I assume he is getting better as time passes. And the weather now is much easier for you as well. I think of you often ... Be well, my friend.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea: It is a very good disguise. Not an angel - but thank you. The first book was very, very challenging. And if I felt the challenge, and am haunted by it, how much worse for those who are condemned to live it.
      The skinny one will need another operation in the New Year. Sigh. Hopefully this is the last - but we have heard that before.
      Sadly, summer is my worst season. This too will pass.
      Hugs.

      Delete
  28. Oh my. I would have cried reading Beyond All Evil as well. The world is meant to be a happy place. Evil people have no place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lady Lilith: I wish evil people had no place. How I wish it.

      Delete
  29. we do want to understand, don't we dear?

    I'm trying to understand my horrible family.....a fact reflected in my post tomorrow. I too like the looks of your princess from the 2nd book


    ALOHA to YOU
    from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    =^..^= <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cloudia: Families are complicated and very often difficult. I will be round to see you post tomorrow.

      Delete
  30. Yes, I read for comfort - all kinds of things but I try to avoid the ones I have the feeling will make me feel sad. Other than that, all kinds. Humour, romance, non-fiction - anything will take me out of the moment and let me forget my worries, especially if it's something I've read before and know it to be good for what ails me!

    I am always amazed at your extensive reading list. Do you have certain times every day that you plan reading, such as bedtime or something else?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o: I read every day. Stolen moments on busy days, and before bed always. And I am an insomniac, and read when I cannot sleep.

      Delete
  31. Interesting post. I've had Paula by Isabel Allende on my bookshelf for years and I don't dare to read. It's about the author's time in hospital with her dying daughter. decisions, decisions!

    Greetings from London.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Cuban in London: I know of Paula, but haven't read it. She is a wonderful writer though... I vote that you should read it.

      Delete
  32. An interesting choice of books - I do like hard reads -so necessary. But also then I need to wind down with lighter books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ladyfi: I read both. And benefit (in very different ways) from them both too.

      Delete
  33. I read books that lift my spirits. Can't read dark and evil, or abusive books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan Kane: There are some books I cannot read because they are too dark - but they are almost always fiction. Dark truths I manage better. Not quite sure why.

      Delete
  34. I was wondering about the title of your post until I saw the second book. Yes, I do. Murder mysteries (I can hear you laughing) and children's books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riot Kity: No laughter here. I do exactly the same.

      Delete
  35. Dealing with Dragons sounds delightful. I will be sure to put it on my to-be-read list. Thanks :)

    What books do I turn to? (repeatedly). Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter. Oh, and also anything by Roald Dahl :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy: Snap here too. I am cringing a bit when I realise just how many comfort books I have, and how often I turn to them.

      Delete
  36. Hi Sue,

    Quite the contrasting books. The first book you read to try and discover further insight conducive to your worthy work which would have so many emotional extremes. That second book would be enchanting escapism. I wish I had time to read books these days. I do read quite a lot of manuscripts sent to me. There are authors out there that value my opinion, I guess :)

    Gary :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. klahanie: Hi Gary. Lots of us, authors or not, value your opinions. Rather a lot.

      Delete
  37. It may not surprise you, but I barely ever read for comfort. I tend to go to prose to think, and sometimes the thought process excites me or nourishes my psyche. Those two are products of excellent writing. But when I need comfort, I tend to go for human contact, or for solitude and answer my demons within. It makes me a rather boring consumer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Wiswell: No, it doesn't surprise me. I also get excited, awed and amazed by prose but there are times when I am not ready to confront issues or share them. Comfort reading helps. Rather a lot. When I am ready I will tackle whatever is bothering me more directly.

      Delete
  38. Oh, you must know I love to read! I don't think a day has gone by in 8 years where I have not read some book or other.
    I read anything I can get my hands on. Well, not true. Grocery store romance novels, never.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birdie: A kindred spirit. I read every day. And cannot imagine (refuse to imagine) a life without reading. And I am an eclectic (greedy) reader myself. I don't read Westerns. Which isn't to say I never will... And romance I am fussy about.

      Delete
  39. I could not imagine life without books. I read every day - and I love dragons! I discovered Anne McCaffrey's books as a child and devoured them; at the moment I am reading a book called "Blood of Dragons". My tastes are eclectic too, EC. although I don't read romances or "chick lit" - nothing wrong with them, they just don't appeal to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alexia: You will have to tell me about 'Blood of Dragons'. I have way too many unread books already, and will happily (albeit with a bit of guilt) make room for some more.

      Delete
  40. "Do you read for comfort?"

    I wish I could, but most things I read nowadays just dredge up despair... Probably my fault rather than the world's fault... or no, maybe it's the world's fault. I try to write for comfort, but increasingly what I write just dredge's up despair, and that one will be my fault... but I am trying to fix it. Your blog always provokes significant thoughts. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew Maclaren-Scott: Sometimes the world is indeed a dark place, but I am lucky enough to always find a little light. Are you ok?

      Delete
    2. Yes thanks Sue (as also said in reply to your message), officially "okay" and blundering onwards, even if it all gets a bit too much at times for various reasons. I find news of what the rest of the world gets up to, or some of it, needs to increasingly be filtered out though, to keep the light shining inside

      Delete
    3. Andrew Maclaren-Scott: Snap. I cannot watch the news at the moment. It makes my eyes leak or my blood pressure rise. Or both.

      Delete
  41. It's really huge of you to consume this book to better understand the callers, Sue. I'm just not sure I could stomach it. Killing children to spite, to abuse, to hurt someone forever. Sickly sickly evil wow. Can't comprehend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wordsfallfrommyeyes: It wasn't easy. However, the pain and the anger that I went through reading it was insignificant by comparison.

      Delete
  42. The dragon's supercilious expression, his crossed toenails and the way the princess is standing in the curl of his tail all call to me! I need to read this... I'll pass on the other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Molly: How nice it is to know that I have so many kindred spirits here in the blogosphere.

      Delete
  43. I never read anymore, but if I do it's always books about serial killers etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LL Cool Joe: True books about serial killers or novels?

      Delete
  44. Speaking of books, my dear friend, come and join my giveaway if u feel like a good read...if not...HAPPY HOLIDAYS :) and lots of kisses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. unikorna: Thank you so much - and happy holidays to you too. I will be over shortly to visit your giveaway.

      Delete
  45. strangely enough, my 'comfort' books used to always be Stephen King's weirdest, bloodiest, and most twisted... these days, i lean toward Vonnegut and Irving. Re-reads comfort me the most....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. daisyfae: Rereads are often my comfort reads - and failing that murder mysteries. You are not alone - by a long shot.

      Delete