03 Mar Comfort ReadingBooks, Reading | Elizabeth Loupas
We all have “comfort food”—foods that either evoke our childhoods or special happy times in our lives or just make us feel safe and comforted. One of mine is popcorn—every Friday night was popcorn night at our house when I was growing up, and I still have and use the pan my father used to pop his corn. He would make two pans’ worth, put it in a big roaster with butter and salt, and give each of us a little dish-full of our own. The dishes were green Melmac. Heaven!
Comfort food isn’t something we eat every day, or even necessarily our favorite food. It’s just—well—comforting. Comfort reading is much the same. My favorite sort of reading is a big, thick, richly-textured serious historical novel, with lots of detail about another place and time. But my comfort reading is E.F. Benson’s deliciously witty Lucia novels.
I love Lucia (Mrs. Emmeline Lucas to the uninitiated), her aide-de-camp in the culture wars Georgie Pillson, her great rival Miss Elizabeth Mapp and her lesser adversary Mrs. Daisy Quantock. I can read straight through all six Lucia novels and then go back and start again from the beginning. Bliss! Why do they soothe my soul so deeply? I’m not sure. English society was certainly undergoing enormous upheaval in the period between the two world wars, but in backwater villages like Riseholme and Tilling, order remained. It is that sense of order and place that I love. There was a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. It had nothing to do with morality. It was about behavior. I think it’s the same craving for order that leads me to read old etiquette books with such nostalgic delight.
What is your comfort reading? How does it differ from your favorite books?