We see it bandied about on Twitter and Bookstagram: “what is your comfort read?” A lot of these “comfort reads” are books that are from our childhoods, or from a significant period in our lives, or just a book that reminds of us better times and makes us feel good. At the center of nostalgic and comfort reads is the idea that reading that book makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and makes things better overall.
For myself, my comfort reads are generally not ones from my childhood–those are more nostalgic reads. My comfort reads are generally books I own a physical copy of, and carry from place to place as I move so that I can always have it on hand if I want. Most of mine are classics: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Pride and Prejudice, etc. But also Practical Magic, Avalon High, and a few others pop up as comfort reads.
The ultimate comfort read, for me, is one that I can reread over and over again. One that may not reveal something new everytime I read it, but does inspire a sense of relaxation and happiness in me. However, this is slightly different from a nostalgic read in my own experience.
A nostalgic read is one where the reading experience largely conjures up a specific memory, time or place. Reading a nostalgic read may remind you of being read that same book by a parent, or sharing that book with a close friend. It might inspire a memory of meeting the author, or starting your own WIP. For myself, nostalgic reads often remind me of a time in my life that I fondly remember; this includes books my mother read to me as a child, books I read during particularly fun parts of my life, or books that inspired a new hobby or interest.
I think that ultimately, both comfort reads and nostalgic reads are pretty important. These kinds of books make us feel comfortable and happy, as well as reminding us of better times. For many book bloggers, myself included, comfort and nostalgia reads are also about remember why we love reading in the first place. Sometimes these are new books that reinspire us, and sometimes these are rereads that bring back old memories. I believe that any book that inspires a comfort or nostalgia read in someone deserves high praise, as reading should provide one with a degree of comfort and happiness.