Friday, 30 January 2015

Winter Comfort Reading

Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons, mostly because being cosy at home is my favourite thing. Roaring fires, scented candles, something delicious and warming in the Aga ... what's not to love? And curling up with a good book - although it's a luxury I rarely have time for these days - is one of my favourite ways to spend time on a cold winter day or night.

I have books that I revisit regularly, much loved tomes that I've gathered over the years and find myself coming back to time and time again. People seem to think I'm odd for re-reading books that I already know by heart but the familiar words and characters are such a source of comfort to me. Some are from childhood, some from my teenage years and some from early adulthood - it seems to be years since I found a really wonderful book to add to this special collection. I suppose that reading them is also nostalgic for me and reminds me of past times - the first time I read the book and other times since. I think if I'm honest, that I must reach for a 'comfort book' in especially stressful times because so many of the memories attached to these books are of being comforted

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
I got this book for Christmas when I was about 14 and I was hooked right from the very first word. My mum used to choose the most thoughtful gifts and I remember thinking how well she must have known me when I started reading it. I stayed up until the wee small hours every night over the Christmas holidays, drinking tea, scoffing Dairy Milk and devouring this book with my little Westie dog curled up on the bed beside me. It was heavenly and represents everything that was 'home' to me at that age and provided contentment throughout a difficult time at school

Jinny series by Patricia Leitch
One of my mums friends bought me a Jinny book when I was a horse mad nine year old. I didn't fully understand the (quite adult) themes until years later but I loved reading about Jinny and her Arab horse, Shantih. This was before I had my own pony and I dreamed of owning a beautiful horse of my own. As I grew older and collected the rest of the books in the series I came to understand them a little better and how unique they are - children's books that speak to children as though they are adults. Each story had a well-hidden message, almost like modern day parables, though I didn't realise this until years later. I admired Jinny's fiery temper and steely determination and I wonder if her stubbornness was more of an influence on me in my formative years than I realised! There was always a central theme of the importance of family too and I hope I have a horse mad daughter to share these books with one day.

Flambards series by KM Peyton
Another book that my wonderful mum bought for me, this came from a car boot sale when we were on holiday in Cornwall when I was about 11. It was an old book and the cover wasn't particularly appealing. But of course my mum knew the story already and knew that it would appeal to my love of horses and the interest in boys that was soon to develop! I collected the other books in the trilogy and, years later, a fourth book in the series which was written by a different author but carried on the story seamlessly. Shortly after I bought my own house, years later of course, I discovered that my mum and dad had watched the series on ITV when they were courting. I hunted it down on DVD and it has become a firm favourite - I even persuaded Matt to watch it with me and he became hooked too! 

Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles
I remember my mum owning a copy of Riders when I was a kid and being horse mad, I was dying to read it. She gently explained that it wasn't really suitable for children, which intrigued me as you can imagine, so I used to sneak into her bedroom to try to pinch it when I was supposed to be in bed! I finally read it as a teenager and understood her reticence! Undeterred, I swiftly collected Polo, Rivals and The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous and loved each and every one. When I was about 15 I lent Rivals to my best friend and when I called her the next day to confirm what time we were supposed to be meeting she said 'um, ah ... I don't feel well actually, I might stay in' 
'You're reading the book, aren't you?' I asked. And she was! She hadn't made it out of her bedroom all day! I also remember reading Polo one summer when my horse was ill - he was an old boy and a long journey in a horse lorry had resulted in a breathing problem. It was touch and go for a week or so and I spent every waking moment sitting by him in the field, reading my book while he grazed in the fresh air.

The Blue Bedroom by Rosamund Pilcher
This was one of my mum's charity shop finds which I used to pinch and read when I lived at home. In her latter years she didn't have much of an attention span so she used to read collections of short stories and this is a particularly good one. It's charmingly old fashioned, being first published in 1985 and all the stories have happy endings. Reading this book evokes memories of curling up next to my mum on her big brass bed  

Do you comfort read too? Have you read any of my favourites?


  1. ohhh, great selection of books!
    I loved the Jinny series too but only read a few, and in a weird order because the school library never had them all!
    I also loved the Jill series by Ruby Ferguson.
    Have you read any other of Nicholas Evans' books? They're all good!
    I've never read Jilly Cooper's books so I should really try to one day!
    Escape to the Westcountry

    1. YES to Ruby Ferguson! I loved the Jill books but I sold them all at car boot sales years ago and when I wanted to re-buy them on eBay they were a fortune! xx

  2. Comfort reading is one of the best things. I read 'The Horse Whisperer' for the first time last month, I cannot believe I hadn't read it before. Jilly Cooper is always fun to read to.

    I don't reread too many books which aren't Christmassy but I always go back to my Austens, 'Coastliners' and 'Blackberry Wine' by Joanne Harris or the Shardlake series by C.J. Sanson. And if I really need a pick me up 'Little Women' will always be my choice! X

    1. YES YES to Little Women, what a classic! I love the old film version too, so nostalgic!

  3. I had a similar experience with Jilly Cooper in my mid/late teens, though I haven't read any in years.
    I mostly reread the Classics and Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

    1. I expect most women had that Jilly Cooper experience as teens :)

  4. I'm a huge fan of revisiting an old book when I have enough time or need a little hug from an old friend have to say I've never read any of your old favourites but I guess we don't all have to have the same buddies!
    I go back to Bill Brysons time and time again, A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke and Sophie's World which is just a bit magical.
    Like yours, my favourites have a bit of sentimentality either from the person who introduced me to them or the time of life they were present during.
    M x

    1. You're so right, it's like a little hug from an old friend :) x

  5. I have just found your blog, and I've been having a lovely time reading some of your posts! I always love a re-read, especially if I'm feeling a bit under-par and not quite up to starting something new. I love all my Jilly Cooper books and have re-read them many times - have you ever read some of her shorter earlier ones (Prudence, Octavia etc)? They are so completely of their time and I love them when I just need a quick break from a more challenging read! I also love re-reading Katie Fforde's books - her early ones like Living Dangerously and Wild Designs are particularly good. My favourite re-reads though are Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet chronicles - I first read them as teenager and I re-read them every few years or so. Every time I read them I enjoy them in a different way!

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts,

    Lizzie (

    1. I haven't read any of Jilly's shorter books but I've always meant to, I'm going to have a look for them now. And I heard bit sod The Cazalets on Radio 4 a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, I must look them up. Thanks for the recommendations! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...