March 18, 2020

Staff Picks: Comfort Reads

When Mr. Berk talked to Lehigh Valley With Love yesterday, Tyler mentioned that he was not exactly enjoying the kind of heart-pounding books he’d normally read these days. He was in the mood for something a little more… gentle. And who can blame him? So we thought we’d poll BAPL staff for their favorite comfort reads. These are for kids, adults, Tylers, anyone. Many are available as e-books which you can borrow remotely. Check them out!

Jodi recommends: I would like to recommend The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.  Both children and adults will fall in love with this somewhat snotty china rabbit who is owned and adored by a little girl named Abilene Tulane.  Edward’s journey begins when he is accidentally lost at sea for almost a year.  From being rescued by a fisherman, to befriending a hobo and his dog and living in a dump, to ending up on a shelf in a doll makers shop, Edward’s journey spans many years and through these years his heart softens and he learns to love.  Available as both an ebook and an audiobook on Overdrive.

Kate recommends: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Totally engrossing! Wildly smart, fun, and about how people change, create, and survive over a lifetime. Also! Anything by P.D. James, Kate Atkinson, or Louise Penny–Nothing like a deeply humane and compelling mystery (with a solution) to comfort the soul.

Brad R. recommends: In times of stress I tend to climb back into the world of Sherlock Holmes, with all of its rich detail and vividness. Sherlock always puts things right, in the end (or almost always). Also of benefit is that there are so many great stories by Doyle to read, not to mention all of the filmed interpretations (Granada’s series with Jeremy Brett is most bingeable), and even more Holmes stories by other writers to discover! As a second choice, I’d also like to mention Peanuts by Charles Shulz. The Complete Peanuts by Fantagraphics Books is ideal, but there are so many collections that getting ahold of some classic cartoons should be easy.

Regina recommends: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Allen’s novels are fun and light and dip magical realism. This story, available on Overdrive, has all the elements of easy Southern charm, including a big old mansion, misfortune, scandal, romance, and secrets to be discovered.

Erin recommends:  Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass and Court of Thorns and Roses series. Maas is a young adult fantasy author, but her books are big hits with adults, as well. They are full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and compelling characters. Plus, there are many books in each series, so anyone with extra time on their hands and extra worries on their mind can take a real deep dive into Maas’ beautifully crafted worlds.

Caitlin recommends: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling A great source of comfort for me is to return to a place of familiarity, which in this case would be the magical world of Harry and friends. Their adventures at Hogwarts and beyond, are filled with excitement and humor, and at times, heartbreak. Personally, I find the series’ themes of friendship, love, and hope in the face of difficult times uplifting. The whole series is available on Overdrive, in e-book and e-audiobook format… but most of the titles in the series appear to have a waitlist, so apparently others consider these books to be comfort reads too!

Catherine recommends: 

  • The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro. Awash with soothing watercolors, this tail (!) of a lonely whale makes a good choice for quiet time or bedtime reading—with a happy ending for all.
  • The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry. The unlikely friendship between a scarecrow and a baby crow grows into a tale of enduring love. With touching rhymes and expressive art, this book is one you won’t mind reading over and over.
  • And for a laugh: Hello, Door by Alastair Heim. In this loose variation on Goldilocks, a felonious fox learns the perils of breaking into strangers’ houses—or does he?

Janine recommends: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In this classic, Lewis ingeniously portrays the voice of temptation through Uncle Screwtape, who is writing to his evil-aspiring nephew Wormwood, instructing him of the ins and outs of evil-doing by talking through his own endeavors in the corruption of his “patient.” Through Screwtape’s malevolent advice, the reader gathers both an honest and humorous take of the things in this world that teach us about our own human vulnerabilities and virtues, and how we can prevail despite the evils in this world. A quick and brilliant read- now available on Overdrive!

Dana recommends: Any children’s title by Oliver Jeffers.Okay, they may not provide comfort but they are laugh out loud funny and laughter can be good for your health. Jeffers is best known for illustrating Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, but has written and illustrated several picture books of his own including our favorite, Stuck. It’s the story of Floyd and his kite. One day, Floyd’s kite becomes stuck in a tree. Floyd throws up his favorite shoe to dislodge his kite, but this becomes stuck too. Floyd then throws up his other shoe, and so on, and so on… This picture book is an unbelievable adventure in ridiculous behavior and absurd choices. Read it and have a good laugh.

Valerie recommends: The books of Mark Twain. We have several of his titles in our Overdrive collection. Great for just about all ages and lovely for a family read-aloud.

Sarah recommends: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It is little bit hokey with some obvious “moral of the story” messages. And yet, there is comfort in the reminders that adapting to change is essential to life. Sometimes change is a surprise or sometimes it comes with some warning signs. When we are open to seeing such warning signs, we can predict and prepare for new circumstances. Acknowledging the surprise change, even if temporary, reduces our stress level and helps us adapt more smoothly.

Book recommendations