I’ve always loved re-reading and comfort read to me is almost always about the pleasure of re-visiting an already familiar book. Naturally not every book that I go back to would qualify. I think I re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace about four times by now, but I doubt that many people would put this dense door-stopper on their list. Bright, breezy and not too long is what usually hits the sweet spot.
Before I started compiling the list (as prompted by That Artsy Reader Girl), I thought it would be about individual books, but it turned out to be more about the authors with a writing style that makes for a perfect comfort read.
1. Agatha Christie – the Queen of Crime is pretty much my personal Queen of Re-read. Whenever I finish a book and don’t feel like immediately getting stuck into something brand new, a Christie mystery is often my number one choice to squeeze in between the reads.
2. Ira Levin – probably a weird pick since Levin’s best-known novels like Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives are quite dark and unsettling. But there’s just something very comforting about his crisp and precise language, and the way his plots tick away with the cool efficiency of a Swiss watch.
3. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – by far my favourite humorous fantasy world to escape to. Good Omens, Pratchett’s collaboration with Neil Gaiman, also deserves a special shout-out as the funniest book about the Antichrist ever written.
4. One Day by David Nicholls – with the right tone, a comfort read for me can still be a massive tearjerker at the end. This funny-sad novel manages to be sad in a way that feels like a warm glow rather than a dark pit.
5. Liane Moriarty – her writing style is pretty much an epitome of “breezy”, so much so that her novels feel like an instant comfort read.
6. Nick Hornby – same as above. They don’t call him a godfather of lad lit for nothing!
7. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – a moving, joyful-bittersweet book about loneliness, narrated by a genuinely out-of-the-ordinary heroine with a unique way of looking at the world.
8. Bill Bryson – I love his insightful, funny and insanely readable books on travel and popular science.
9. This Charming Man by Marian Keyes – the Irish author is one of my go-to writers for light reading in general, but this novel about four very different women whose lives are affected by one (not so) charming man has always been a huge personal favourite.
10. Erast Fandorin series by Boris Akunin – these historical detective novels, set in 19th-century Russia, are fast-paced, clever and witty (and the English translation deserves nothing but the highest praise).