Comfort, Not Crap Plus A Review for Once Upon A Spine

That title popped into my head and my inner grandma is not pleased with my word choice, but instant alliteration and laziness have  won out.  The point is: We all know the associations with comfort reading, light reading, easy reading, whatever you want to call it.  Literary fiction is for the sophisticated, intelligent reader and comfort reading is something that is to be used as a palate cleanser of sorts or for people who aren’t as serious of readers. Comfort books are basically…well, crap.
Personally, I disagree. There are many fantastically written comfort books out there and I actually think that sometimes books are given more literary merit simply because the author touches on hot topics or does something experimental, whereas books that are overall positive and lighter in subject, tone, mood, etc. have a tougher go of earning the literary praise they deserve.  When I think about it, the majority of my favorite books are in fact comfort books and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The books that have most reliably been my comfort will come as a surprise to no one who knows me. In high school, and at a slower pace now, I was always reading a Harry Potter book.  It was my security blanket at the most dramatic of ages.  Whenever I was feeling all the stress of the world (oh, teenagers) over sports or tests or boys or whatever the heck was on my addled mind, I would sink into Harry Potter and think to myself, “hmm, my life’s not so bad”. I mean, I’d rather be at Hogwarts, but it’s not like I was responsible for defeating the most evil wizard of all time. Perspective is always helpful.
In the general line of comfort reading, I’ve been intrigued by dipping my toes into the cozy mystery genre. I previously associated that genre from my days of working as a library page with the Large Print section of the library, but I’d heard some interesting sounding reviews on Bookstagram, so I was so excited to receive a copy of Kate Carlisle’s Once Upon A Spine from partner Berkley, a division of Penguin Random House. I figured that a cozy mystery with a blurb that included books, chocolate cream pie, and British in-laws was a good place to start.

Once Upon A Spine is the 11th in the Bibliophile Mystery series, but I was able to jump right in and felt quickly immersed in its charming world. The book completely delivered with what I was hoping for from the genre.  I loved details like the process of the main character, Brooklyn, making paper for her art piece or the explorations of the different rare editions of Alice in Wonderland.  I’m envious of the delightful sounding Courtyard Shops and I reveled in the food descriptions.  Would I say that this is the best written book? No. Was it cheesy? Kinda. Is that what I expected and was this fully satisfying? Yes.  I will definitely be returning to thees books and am happy to have found a new comfort series and a new genre to enjoy.

Above is a stack of comfort books that I grabbed while walking around the house on a recent rainy day.  I really like having comfort series on standby, including any of the series written by the prolific Alexander McCall Smith, the Flavia de Luce series (not pictured), and the Mitford books (not pictured). It’s wonderful to know you have a resource you can reliably dip in and out of when you’re feeling a pull to comfort.  I also have certain authors, such as Austen or Alcott or Montgomery, who I know will fit the bill no matter what.  British books with a village setting or quirky characters or other British stereotypes also often do the trick for me and children’s classics are almost guaranteed to hit the spot.
As I am currently trying to not drift off on the couch (this pregnancy thing is tiring), I won’t be adding links to the books, but you can always be so kind as to use the button at the bottom of the page if you’re so inclined : ).
Now, do tell me: Do you feel like comfort reads are oft maligned or properly labeled crap? What books are the ones that you have found yourself turning to when you want comfort of any kind?

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