There are two types of readers in this world: those that reread and those that do not. I am an unashamed rereader.
Everyone has a coping mechanism for dealing with stress. It can be spending time with family, binge watching shows on Netflix, exercising, taking a road trip, shopping, or eating comfort food. My coping mechanism is reading comfort books.
Don't get me wrong...I love new books. I love the thrill of getting to know a new set of characters, discovering a new writer's literary style, and experiencing a new world. My stack of books to read at home is taller than I am. (Which is why I have broken it down into several safer smaller knee high stacks.) But when I am worried or stressed or scared or tired, I seek the comfort of books I have read before.
Rereading a favorite book is just like eating a comfort food, only without the calories. It is a reminder of calmer times. It is a way to revisit peace. It is an escape, like all reading can be, but it is an escape to a familiar landscape and familiar characters. When I reread a book, there is no uncertainty of how the plot will resolve. Even if I reread a suspense novel, the stress is removed because I already know the resolution. Rereading does not require me to evaluate the literary merit of the book. Rereading allows me to calm my mind and my thoughts. I get to travel the well known and beloved grooves of a narrative that I have walked before. Rereading a book is like wrapping myself up in an afghan of words.
There is a saying in libraries that every reader has a book and every book has a reader. (In fact, it is one of the five laws of library science!) So the books that you choose to reread in times of stress or in need of comfort are almost guaranteed to be different than the books that I choose. Still, here are some of my go-to titles that I reread when I need a literary hug:
Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry
Aware of her older sister's powers of sorcery, which have been used to help secure the Scottish throne for Robert de Brus, Meg realizes she must try to protect the young Norwegian princess who has been chosen as rightful heir.
The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart
Impetuous and attractive, Nicola Ferris has just arrived in Crete for a holiday when she sees an egret fly out of a lemon grove. On impulse, she follows the bird’s path into the White Mountains. There she discovers a young Englishman who, hiding out in the hills and less than pleased to have been discovered, sends Nicola packing with the order to keep out of his affairs. This, of course, Nicola is unable to do, and before long events lead to a stunning climax among the fishing boats of Agios Georgios Bay.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her...
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, a penniless orphan, is engaged as governess at Thornfield Hall by the mysterious Mr Rochester. Her integrity and independence are tested to the limit as their love for each other grows, and the secrets of Mr Rochester's past are revealed.
The Once & Future King by T.H. White
Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.