Who needs comfort food when you’ve got comfort books?
We repeat foods. We repeat outfits. We watch our favorite movies multiple times, pour over the same season of Arrested Development until we’ve memorized casting cues, listen to albums even after the magic of hearing them for the first time is as distant as a Prohibition Era speakeasy.
We do it because they comfort us. We repeat them because they’re familiar and awesome and part of what makes us, you know, US.
But we rarely do this with books.
Don’t say length. You can’t say length. Not when a season of Lost or House or whatever can last up to 24 hours straight through. Not when we listen to an album 30 times over a span of a few months, adding up to not hours, but DAYS of time. Not when we’ll wear the same after-work clothes day after day after day until, oh, man, seriously, let’s get those in the washing machine BUT THEN WHAT WOULD I HAVE TO WEAR WHILE I WATCHED SEASON THREE OF HOUSE FOR THE FIFTH TIME?
Length doesn’t work. Perception does, though.
Books seem long. Yet, despite their length, they also seem disposable, like a magazine, or a reality program. They’re commonly ingested and passed along without a second thought. They’re the worst combination for some people: drawn out and forgettable. (Those people, of course, are wrong, if you want my honest and totally unbiased and also totally right opinion.)
I can’t help it, though. I have comfort books. I have comfort books that mean more than any comfort food or comfort album or comfort television program. I have comfort books that are as far from comfortable in subject matter as you could imagine, yet still draw me in, time and time again, despite my need to finish whatever book is in need of finishing.
Though it’s unwieldy and awkward, the seventy billion pound monster that is The Beatles Anthology book is something I return to quarterly. Graphic novels with heady themes – think Jimmy Corrigan and both Maus books – seem to keep ending up in my hands. British travelogues like Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island or Theroux’s The Kingdom by the Sea are on the list, as are short stories like Lorrie Moore’s “People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk” or Dan Chaon’s “The Bees.”
After thinking about, I’d bet you probably have some comfort books too. And for those of you that don’t, why not?
Why not find yours right now? You’ve got time while those pajamas finish drying.