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Comfort Reads

While the doors to the library may be closed right now, staff knows that in these uncertain times, books can bring comfort. Here are selections from staff on books that bring them personal comfort.  

Angela, Library Assistant Director:
"During times of stress and uncertainty, I turn to humor to help me through it. Recently, I saw the cartoons of Nathan W. Pyle circulating around Facebook and thought they were hilarious. By presenting his cartoons from the viewpoint of aliens experiencing typical earthling situations for the first time, he brings a different view to "normal" things in life and injects humor where there previously wasn't any. For instance, wanting to get a suntan is referred to as ‘craving star damage.’ There is a compilation in book format of his comics entitled Strange Planet, which we have available on Overdrive. I encourage you to check it out and have a good laugh. It's important to keep a sense of humor, especially during adversity.”

Dakota, Teen Programming Specialist:
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“Although it is not necessarily a happy read, I find J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to be extremely comforting in almost any circumstance. The first time I read it as a teen, I was lonely and felt a strong connection to Holden’s specific brand of loneliness. Ever since then, I find solace in his introspective petulance, regardless of what that says about me as a person.”



Hannah, Children's Circulation Assistant:

“During times of high anxiety and stress, I turn to things that make me laugh. Being a strong believer that laughter can be one of the best medicines, I tend to keep humor close at all times. Laughter pulls me both physically and mentally from my dark, spiraling thoughts and releases some of the tension held in my body. I find the perfect mix to be humorous short stories because they are generally quicker reads: not too lengthy, but enough to take me out of the moment, and cause me to chuckle or laugh. A constant source of literary comfort has always been the works of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. His writing style is dry, witty, a touch dark, sarcastic, and more often than not leaves me laughing out loud. I have always been drawn to the slightly neurotic, sharp wit Vonnegut always delivers. There is, of course, the added bonus of some Hoosier references and a Midwest mentality that is eerily relatable. When I need that quick read to help calm myself, I pick up Welcome to the Monkey House by Vonnegut, available on Overdrive. This collection of short stories starts with one of my favorites, “Harrison Bergeron,” where everyone is equal in every possible way, and humans have little radios implanted in their brains to keep it that way. Or go to the title story ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ where the government meddles with one of humans' most instinctual drives in a funny look at the future of humanity on Earth. While that might not sound humorous at all, it’s the world crafted by absurdity, and the dialogue between characters that leads readers to crack a smile, chuckle, or full on laugh-out-loud. So, however you choose to spend your time away from your usual routine, I hope you find things that bring you a little stress relief and some laughter!”

Rachel, Children's Librarian:


“I find Ella very comforting and I typically read it once a year. Being a retelling of the timeless story of Cinderella, it's pretty much the literary equivalent of a hot bowl of noodle soup. But retold in a manner that gives the main character self-agency and power over her own story, so noodle soup with a couple hits of Tabasco (or whatever hot sauce you choose, I'm not picky).  An exciting, middle-grade fantasy to whisk you away from your quarantine.”









Robert, Reference Librarian:

“Throughout my life, I’ve come back to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery stories. Although the depictions of a world of deceit, robberies, murders, and intrigues lying just below daily life’s comfortable routine—not to mention the many disguises, aliases, and unreliable tales-within-tales the stories are shot through with—might seem dubious comfort, Doyle counterbalances those disconcerting aspects in several major ways. First, the storytelling is remarkably efficient and orderly, with each element falling into place in a way that fits nicely with the rhythms of my brain. Second, there’s the main characters, the brilliant detective Holmes and his best (perhaps only) friend John Watson. Their close friendship, and Watson’s narrating voice—capable, humane, and self-effacing—is a major attraction of the story. Third, the stories are firmly rooted in their place and time, with all the plot and character elements springing out of Victorian England, and can be as grounding as Hogwart’s or Middle Earth. Finally, and perhaps most appealing for difficult times, is that Holmes always solves the case. This isn’t to say he always catches the criminal, but it means that a problem, no matter how baffling, is always made clear. While the stories can vary in quality—Doyle wrote fifty-six short stories and four novels, generally on a quick schedule—those in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are some of the best.”


Kate, Children's Programming Librarian:

“The book that brings me the most comfort is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I was in sixth grade when I read it for the first time, and have read it every couple of years since, especially during gloomy winter months. The story is of four sisters and their mother as they navigate life in New England during the Civil War. The girl’s father is away with the Army as a chaplain, and they are missing him as well as facing financial burdens without him. I love the connection between the sisters and their mother and how they bolster each other up and come together during difficulties, while still remaining charmingly human. They find creative ways to enjoy, or at least bear, their new normal, something I can especially relate to right now. I don’t have sisters, but I have strong relationships with my daughter, mother, cousins, aunts, and sisters-in-law, and reading Little Women helps me feel close to them all, even though we’re spread across the world. I haven’t seen the newest movie adaptation of Little Women; it’s something I am going to treat myself to while I’m home, but first I need to reread it one more time!” 

Shelly, Library Circulation Assistant
"In difficult times I find that humor always puts me in a better frame of mind. I can always count on the laugh out loud hilarity of David Sedaris. With all of us spending more time at home and dealing with the stress that can come along with that, the book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim helps me understand my family and those I love with a little splash of laughter and wit that I often forget is there. Sedaris has a way of putting on paper the ugly thoughts I have in my head and gets me chuckling about those thoughts rather than losing it in complete rage for the rest of the day! Sedaris has saved me from others and myself more than once."

Dave, Hope Branch Manager
"Social distancing is a new concept for some, but the pain of loneliness is a universal feeling. In my opinion, the novel that most exemplifies that, and the strength of the human spirit to overcome it is Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. The novel was written just before the author’s death and published posthumously in 2015. The book deals with Louis and his neighbor Addie, both widowed some years ago. Their lives have shrunk and they are lonely. Though they don’t know each other well, Addie, the more adventurous one, suggests that they become friends and comfort each other in their old age. The book is written in Haruf’s trademark sparse prose, and the style keeps this love story from becoming maudlin and florid. It’s a beautiful, unsentimental story that reminds us that even during times of isolation and loneliness, comfort and companions can be found in unexpected places. I have enjoyed this book, and other by Kent Haruf. I find his prose to be a refreshing change of pace from most fiction and return to his work occasionally when I need a literary palate cleanser."

Kelly, Youth and Family Engagement Librarian
“During times of uncertainty, I have found myself over the years turning to the classic novel, Anne of Green Gables. The main character, Anne Shirley is an adolescent girl growing up with so many challenges. She is such a wonderful strong young heroine who endures obstacles such as being an orphan in the 1890’s. Anne is a daydreamer, a faithful friend to others, an individualist, very witty, and the eternal optimist no matter what obstacles and hardships she faces. I love how Anne is always able to find the best in people and in the world during some devastating events. During these hardships that our community is facing Anne’s positive outlook is always a good one to live by. As Anne Shirley says in the novel, 'It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.'”
Mary Clare,  Community Services Coordinator

"Evergreen by Belva Plain, first published in 1978, is the book that gave me comfort in the year1980.In mid-August of that year I, and my two-year old son, moved to Seymour and I began my twenty-year stint at the Jackson County Public Library.Moving to a town unknown to me, finding a babysitter, and learning a new job, brought on stress and anxiety.  I believe it was my sweet mom who recommended Evergreen to me.Having just finished graduate school I did not have much time for fun reads.  Thus, I found myself looking forward to each evening when I could indulge myself in this family saga.Evergreen begins at the turn of the century in Poland.  Polish-Jewish immigrant Anna is the main character. We watch her as she leaves her destitute Polish village, sails to New York City, and after time begins work for the wealthy Werner family. As the saga continues Anna marries Joseph Friedman, but her heart belongs to  Paul Werner, the son of her former employer. Anna and Joseph have a son.  Anna becomes pregnant by Paul and has a daughter.  For several years Paul does not know this. Joseph has business success, and becomes very wealthy. Anna and Joseph’s son and his wife have a son.  Their son and his wife die in a car crash. Anna and Joseph are not allowed to see their grandson. Joseph loses his fortune during the depression. Paul makes a trip to Europe, rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany.  Joseph rebuilds his fortune. Sure sounds like a soap opera, yes?  And, in a way it is, but it also much more.  Plain develops her characters very well. You learn secrets, secrets the characters keep from each other, and from themselves. You also get glimpses of the glory of New York City and its growth, anti-semitism, the birth of Israel, and so much more. For me, this was a grand book to read at a time when comfort was needed.  After reading Evergreen, you will discover that this short synopsis does not do the book justice.  Hope you enjoy it!"