Comfort Reading – Miriam Drori

I recently wrote about my favourite ‘comfort reads’.   In today’s guest slot, fellow Crooked Cat author Miriam Drori gives her take on the same subject.

Since becoming a Crooked Cat author, I have expanded the scope of books I read, enjoying many different types of novels. These days, it would be easier to say which genres I don’t read – mostly science fiction, porn, poetry.

But most of the books I read aren’t comfort reads. They’re not what I need to take me out of something that’s making me unhappy.

In my youth, when I often struggled with life, I didn’t know about comfort reading. I wish I had; it would have helped. But it was only in June, 2010 that I discovered reading as an escape.

Something happened at that time. I can’t even remember exactly what it was. Where I live, bad things happen quite often. What I read about this episode on social media, from people who lived far away and couldn’t really know what was going on, upset me a lot. I’ve probably read similar comments since then, but have become more immune to them.

In order to escape from comments I took too personally, I decided to turn my computer off for fifty-five hours, or at least that’s how long my separation from the world outside my country turned out to be. It would be much harder to cut myself off from the Internet these days, now that I have a smart phone and am expected to be available online at all times. But back to then. What did I do instead? Apart from completing various chores, I sat in the garden and read.

The book I read was one that I’d just won in a competition: Kwaito Love by Lauri Kubuitsile. It’s a romance, the first of this genre that I ever read. I can do no better than to quote from my review of the time, https://miriamdrori.com/2010/06/07/a-well-timed-book/.

“It’s set in South Africa, and describes a world where traditional food includes vetkoek or makwinya – depending on the language being spoken, where women of twenty-four are too young to marry, where family ties are very strong and where the worst problems are caused by misunderstandings.

“No doubt the last item in my list is not always true of this place, but in the world described in this story, that’s all there is. And that’s what drew me to this beautiful, well-written story: its ability to distract my mind from all my worries and transport me to a world where the love between two people is the only thing that really matters.”

Since then I’ve read many romances. I’ve even written one, Neither Here Nor There, although the background of its heroine predetermines more plot depth than in most romances. And next time I need an escape from the trials of real life, I’ll hope I have a romance at hand to fill the gap.

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Miriam Drori is the author of the romance Neither Here Nor There, the historical novella The Women Friends: Selina co-written with Emma Rose Millar and the non-fiction Social Anxiety Revealed.

Miriam can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Wattpad and on her website/blog and social anxiety blog.

 

My Fab Five Comfort Reads

The mythical ‘they’ always say to be a great writer you have to be a great reader. I devoured books from a very early age. Books provide an escape route – I used to immerse myself in Kirrin Island and Narnia, just like children today escape to Hogwarts. Returning to a familiar place is a source of great comfort, and like food, I have my favourite ‘comfort reads’, novels I can escape to in times of need.

It was very hard narrowing my choices down to five, but to me the following books represent the literary equivalent of peanut butter on toast or a mug hot chocolate with whipped cream – comfort reading. This doesn’t mean that they feature happy ever afters with cosy characters (far from it), it just means that when I pick up these books I know I’m in for a treat.

 
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon –  the perfect combination of history, romance, mystery and magic, set in a great city, Barcelona. I discover something new amongst the pages everytime I read it. Probably my all time favourite novel.
 
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald. As much as I love The Great Gatsby, I prefer Tender is the Night, perhaps because it’s just that little bit ‘meatier’, (or maybe because I share the same name as one of the central characters??). The themes of vulnerability and co-dependency are explored in an opulent and seemingly perfect setting. A book that epitomises a flawed romance in a decadent bygone era.
 
A Town Like Alice Neville Shute’s classic might be considered a little old-fashioned in today’s market but it’s an inspiring mix of historical fact and fiction with a strong, gutsy heroine at its core. 
 
The Go-Between by LP Hartley.  A great lesson in how to build up tension alongside evocative imagery. The perfect portrait of a lost innocence and the 1971 film version is pretty good too.
 
Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Basically, I love anything by Joanne Harris, but Chocolat was the first novel of hers I read so for sentimental reasons it would have to be my favourite. I listened to a speech by Joanne Harris at the Winchester Writer’s Festival a few years back and she was inspirational. She was told Chocolat would never sell, but she had faith in her story and stuck to her guns. 
 
I’ve made multiple house-moves in recent years and books have had to be sacrificed and taken to the charity shop, but these five treasured friends have stood the test of time. I wouldn’t be without them.