It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a fan of Jennifer Cruise. My fan status for her includes not just her twenty+ best-selling books but also her blog: arghink.com
Shortly after covid came on the scene, a new trend in reading started – rereading. It was very noticeable in the comments on Crusies blog. Everyone was re-reading books they loved for comfort.
I was, and to an extent, still am, part of that trend. I’ve asked myself why.
For me it’s because I was, am, at the top of my stress level functioning within the new normal. I don’t want the added stress of being bruised by what I’m reading.
Amongst re-readers, content or genre differ person to person. There are those who find comfort in very suspenseful books, even horror stories. Shout out to Stephen King.
I am comforted by HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happily for now) books. I read a lot of romance novels.
There are certain writers whose books will always be comfort re-reads for me. I can also relax when those same authors offer new books. I trust them not to bruise me by abusing the characters they make me like or love within their stories.
Yes, yes, you must throw all kinds of conflict at your characters. But Diana Gabaldon, for example, would never be a comfort read for me. I think I know part of her process in writing. She says to herself: last book I had Jamie anally raped so this book it needs to be Claire.
Later for that. Someone please find her an editor who knows how to say no – you did that already, ad nauseum.
Authors who are on my list to automatically buy and to read over again many times have certain things in common.
A voice I enjoy is probably the biggest thing. No matter how many times I read a Sarah Addison Allen book (like Garden Spells) I am newly struck dumb by how mesmerized I am with her wordsmithing. She consistently writes sentences or passages that lead me to say – “That’s so beautiful. Why didn’t I write that?” She has a new book coming out, Other Birds, and I’m excited because I know I will love it. She never fails me!
Another thing for me is novels that are dialogue driven. For me, Jennifer Cruise is the queen of snarky dialogue and the master of driving her plots with dialogue. We also seem to have the same sense of humor. In Faking It the heroine and her love interest meet hiding in a closet while burgling someone’s house (with good reason, of course).
Others who are on the list of authors whose books I will buy as soon as they come out and re-read many times are Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP), Jayne Anne Krentz (aka JAK, Jayne Castle & Amanda Quick), Kristen Ashely, Rachel Gibson, Sarah Wynde, Aurora Rose Reynolds, etc, etc, etc.
In some writing circles epilogues are a no-no. SEP always writes an epilogue and I’m glad she does. There have been times when the world was kicking me around and I’ve picked myself up easier by re-reading epilogues from her books. I dare you to read the epilogue from ‘Heroes Are My Weakness’ without smiling.
JAK writing as Jayne Castle gives her heroines dust bunnies for pets. Each dust bunny is unique in its quirks but similar in its protective qualities; a second set of eyes in the back of its head and a fierce growl that only appear when there is danger afoot.
Comfort reading and re-reading may be a trend that ends for some when they learn how to navigate the new normal, but I will always have some measure of this in my life.