What I Read When I’m Low

When I'm low, I like to read old favorites.

In the past month, I've finished only two books (still plugging away on the President's second), and both are novels I've read numerous times before.

Book #8 — A Glass of Blessings, by Barbara Pym. I turned straight to Miss Pym when in need of comfort, a safe place to go. The particular book, about a young wife who falls a little in love with an old friend's brother, has the usual details about church life and neighborhoods in London and feels like a visit with an old friend.

Book #9 — Emma, by Jane Austen. Similarly, Austen's world holds charms for me, and visiting Highbury and Hartfield and Donwell Abbey and even Box Hill takes me away from how I might be feeling here.

I'm going to try and read some new books this month, but I'm going to pick out an old favorite for those moments one might be needful. I downloaded Miss Austen's Sense and Sensibility for my Kindle, and will probably put off reading the P.D. James that I started six weeks ago and never really spent anytime reading. Murder mysteries are the wrong kind of escape at the moment.

Do you have a favorite kind of book for low moods?

20 thoughts on “What I Read When I’m Low”

  1. I do exactly the same thing! I used to reread Gone With the Wind or Winds of War. In the last few years I’ve turned to Evensong (although I loaned that out and need to get it back!) or a Julia Spencer Fleming or John Grisham book because they are engaging but don’t require too much mental energy.

  2. I used to read Dave Barry books when I needed to get out of a funk. They always worked for me–juvenile humor and all. Alas, he no longer writes his column, and the books were collections of the same. And I’ve memorized all the books. So I’m looking for a replacement.
    Jane Austen’s books are always a good bet.

  3. I have had the most difficult time reading anything these days…anything…longer than a few paragraphs or pages – a whole book, forget it. SIGH….

  4. Any of Alexander McCall Smith’s books read for the first time or returned to for comfort help. His pacing and characters are pleasant with enough depth to keep my brain going.
    I love the Julia Spencer Fleming books as well as Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series although I don’t think of these books as comforting because of the subject matter.

  5. Barbara Pym and Jane Austen are good, as is The Country of the Pointed Firs. But if things are really bad, Miss Read is the go-to girl.

  6. need of comfort, safe place to go…old friend – exactly why I’ve re-read 4 of the Mitford Series by Jan Karon and a couple of Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency books of late. They are comfortable and positive. I’ll check out Barbara Pym.

  7. Yes, I reread for for comfort all the time. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind.

  8. A handful of favourite poets bring me comfort with their bold grace, humour, and startling linguistic beauty: Richard Hugo, Mary Oliver, David Whyte, Violet Jacob, and Opal Whiteley. For prose comfort, I love to wrap myself up in “The Girl of the Limberlost” by Gene Stratton-Porter (orig. pub. 1909), anything by Madeleine L’Engle, and the work of Scottish author George MacDonald. (Early editions contain some delicious theological meanderings, but more recent “re-issues” often edit them out.)

  9. I do this too! Most recently with PD James murder mysteries (I am the perfect blank slate: no sooner do I read the book then I forget who did it). And I’ve re-read the Harry Potter books in a similar mood.
    In recent years I have also turned to Austen and Dickens… David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. Lovely. And I’m a recent Julia Spencer-Fleming devotee- I believe you are responsible for that, Songbird!
    I am sorry you are feeling low, however. (((songbird)))

  10. I’m reading “Dewey” right now, about the library cat? And that has been lifting my spirits with each chapter.

  11. I think anything that is an old friend is pretty safe! I love Robin McKinley’s work. And when I have nothing better to read, I usually turn to Rudyard Kipling or even Dick Francis. But when you are low, you want an old friend to cheer you up. Children’s literature can be fantastic for this.

  12. Harry Potter and Narnia. Something that takes me to a fantasy world away from where I am. I’ve not read much in Lord of the Rings, but I imagine it serves the same purpose.
    I don’t do this much anymore, but I used to like to translate a little Latin. A paragraph of St Augustine or a few lines of Vergil would take my mind off myself for a while.
    Poetry is always good… Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost.

  13. The steady rain outside is making me wish I could make a cup of tea and dive into some of the books you all have mentioned. I’m with Mrs. Redboots on Robin McKinley– love her feminist re-tellings of old fairy tales– and I wanted to add Anne McCaffrey, whose work strikes just the right blend between socially-conscious drama, imaginative plot lines, emotional satifaction, and word-play. Two other dog-eared tomes: Taylor Caldwell’s story-cycle, “Grandmother and the Priests,” and L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle.”

  14. Mitford, Diana Gabaldon, Narnia. Always Narnia.
    We are having exactly the same weather as you are! Wow!

  15. What wonderful suggestions! Yes, children’s literature can serve this purpose, too. My favorites are the Narnia books, followed by L’Engle and Alcott.

  16. Little Women! Anne of Green Gables!! Anything Madeleine L’Engle, especially the Austin family books, oh and Georgette Heyer! I periodically re-read Georgette Heyer’s Regency books – they still make me laugh, especially The Grand Sophie and Frederica.

  17. As concentration has been an issue I’ve turned to Jane Austen on dvd…Emma currently. Real comfort reading would be CS Lewis, Susan Cooper & maybe Bleak House but for bone-engendered sleepless nights I’ve been treading the PS James & Phil Rickman trail

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