The comfort of books

In times of stress, some people turn to comfort food; I turn to books. Books don’t have any calories and they give us comfort food for thought.  I belong to an excellent book club and we are reading The Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.  It is a great and great big book.  Its span includes Amelia Earhart’s flights, a modern Hollywood actress’s quest for stardom and the life story of a young woman flyer.  I can’t describe in one sentence all that this big novel encompasses.  You can read two reviews here and here, and then settle in with this fascinating story.

I recently purchased The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. I enjoyed Haig’s The Midnight Library and was lured into buying his new book by this description:

“The Comfort Book is a collection of little parcels of hope.  Gathering notes, proverbs and stories, it gifts us with new ways of seeing ourselves, the world, and ourselves in the world.”  This is right up my alley—a page here, a page there, and I feel comforted.  Haig’s book is  set up to be read that way.  This morning I opened to a random page:  “Other people are other people.”  Well, yeah; I don’t need to be told that.  But this sentence (a quotation of Ayishat Akanbi)is a reminder and a comfort:  “If you’ve decided your healing is dependent on other people acknowledging their faults you’ll still be waiting in your grave.”

This holiday season, I bought myself a gift—Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land.  I can’t tell you about it from personal experience since I haven’t had time to read it yet, but its reviews promise “a soul-piercing masterpiece that examines what it means to be human with profound empathy.”  And…”It is a book about books, a story about stories.  It is tragedy and comedy and myth and fable and a warning and a comfort all at the same time.”




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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