comfort reading

by Toni McGee Causey

Somewhere, there is a woman, sitting in a room, three days past a rape. Her bruises are turning purple and in a few more days, they're going to be that greenish hue of ghouls. She hasn't looked in a mirror, yet, but the swelling is starting to abate, and she can open her jaw without the execrable pain. The screaming is almost entirely in her head, now. The stitches hurting her remind her she's alive and she's not really sure why people keep telling her that, as if that's a good thing. She's not sure she wants to be. There's been just enough time to get past the initial shock, the stunned chaotic business of having lost any sense of strength in the face of the world. She has had just enough time to be processed, and there should be a stamp for her forehead: file # 56449A221. 

Oh, people have been caring. They have been very professionally caring. All of the people, scads of them. They have been very careful not to touch her or move too fast. Everyone is diligent about addressing her respectfully, using her name, always making sure she feels like an individual. She can see it, see in their eyes how she is now different. The opposite of the person on the other side of the desk, where there are things like strength and weapons and confidence. 

And right now, she is finally alone, though the moat around her has turned into an ocean, and the screaming, it just keeps on coming. For a few minutes, not having to deal with anyone else is good. A relief. But then there is the silence, and in the silence, it all happens again. She cannot close her eyes, because it's all happening. Again. She cannot talk to someone, because the screaming will break free. Or the tears. Either may kill her. 

She needs. Needs. To be somewhere else, other than here. Other than this thing she's become. Needs to be able to step outside of her skin for a little while. Maybe a long long time. 

She's going to go to her bookcase and pick up something. Maybe it's something where the woman kicks someone's ass. Maybe it's one where the good guy wins. Or the DA is brilliant. Or the girl comes of age and has confidence. Whatever it is, she gets to step outside of the bruises and the cuts and the broken bones for a little while. She gets to live a different ending. A different beginning. Have a safe place to be. And somehow, maybe, have a little hope that this thing, too, will pass. 
 
Write a story for her.

~*~
Somewhere, there is a man, sitting in a hospital room. His wife has cancer, and he's been there, every day, before and after work. Except now, he can be there full-time, since he's lost his job. He's spent days seeking help, trying to find a way to keep her there, to make sure she has the care she needs, when all of his benefits are gone. He's filled out more paperwork in this one week than he's done in a lifetime, and only barely understands half of what they've told him, if that. 
He'll try to get a second mortgage for the house. Sell off the second car, trade his in for something cheaper. The savings–such as it is, there's not much with two kids–is gone. The retirement will go next, and that might last a month, at this rate. They don't qualify yet for any sort of Medicare or help. His sister is at his house, boxing up stuff to sell. Doing it while the kids are at school, so they don't see.
The screaming is almost entirely in his head, now. The anger, the rage, the helplessness. His wife's asleep, and sleep is so rare with the pain she's in, he can't risk turning on the TV. She's been in too much pain for him to leave the room, though.
He's lost. He sees it in the eyes of the nurses, sees it in the eyes of the administrator. The woman running the accounts payable office.  He's become this other thing, this person he doesn't know, and right now, for a little while, he needs. Needs. To be somewhere else but here. Someone else but him.
He'll slump down in the God-awful chair they have in the room, punching a pillow that one of the orderlies found for him, and he'll crack open that favorite paperback he grabbed on his way out the house this morning. For a little while, he gets to be a hero. He gets to fight crime or solve problems, save the world or save the girl. For a little while, he gets to have hope.
Write a story for him.
~*~
A lot of people in the industry are scared right now–things look bleak. If you're pushing through NaNoWriMo or that draft on deadline or beginning a new project, you may be at that part of the process where you're feeling exhausted–or scared to begin. Writer fatigue and fear are hard to combat in the face of a lot of bad news, and especially hard to slug it out when it looks like the possibility of selling is dwindling to nothing.
And this, ironically, is when we need story the most.
Story-telling has been around for millennia for a reason–we need to connect. We need to both transport somewhere other than our own daily circumstances and to connect to others, to know that someone out there understands us. Understands our fears, our desires. We need to escape, without physically abandoning our family and friends. Stories do that. We need the hope, the connection, the dream. 
Write a story for us.
~*~
Tell me about a book that you read during a bad time, something that–for whatever reason, be it light or serious–just got you through the day.

146 thoughts on “comfort reading

  1. billie

    Toni, this post is amazing. Thank you.

    I know there are books that have had major effects on me at times when I desperately needed it – but I haven’t had my latte yet, so… I’ll stop back by and add to the mix.

    Reply
  2. Kaye Barley

    oh, Toni, wow.

    I’ve felt for awhile now that the word “powerful” has become over-used when referring to books and writing.THIS piece, however, is exactly what that word should be reserved for.

    A book I’ve read more than once and have recommended to certain, though not all, friends when in need of a bit of hope is a book which starts out as hard and dark as any I’ve read. Laurie King’s FOLLY was quite hard to push myself into, but became the book representative (to me) of hope, strength, survival and ultimately peace.

    Reply
  3. Debbie K.

    Books are my major stress relievers. When it is all too much, I can escape into the world of fiction. Whether it is a romance, a sci/fi, or a good murder mystery, just for that little while, my brain hyperfocuses and decompresses. For me, a good book has the ability to bring my brain right back down off the ledge.Great post!

    Reply
  4. toni mcgee causey

    Debbie, I am right there with you. At my most intensely stressed, I have a tendency to start selecting sci fi or fantasy [and I usually don’t recognize this fact until I notice the books pile up in that category]. (I think so may great SF/F books also have great mysteries at their core, or an impending doom/thriller element that I get a double fix.)

    Reply
  5. Allison Brennan

    You are amazing.

    The last book that affected me shouldn’t have. LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND by David Isby. It was very dry, packed with a near-overwhelming amount of history and information, and about a subject I knew little about. I bought it to understand the history of Special Forces for the backstory of a character–a book I intended to skim, not read–and ended up reading it cover to cover. I came away absolutely shocked that there was so much I didn’t know about modern history and warfare. Two sentences from the back copy pretty much sum up the book: “These accounts show the US fighting man at his most heroic. Yet they also show how they have often been let down by their political leadership.”

    Reading the book helped immensely in grounding my fictional story, but it has stuck with me for so long it impacted how I view the military as a whole, and soldiers specifically. Veterans Day had a completely new meaning for me this year.

    Reply
  6. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Toni

    I’m with Kaye – all I can think of to say at this moment is, “Wow!”

    You’ve done it again. Another stunning post.

    I’ve been through some particularly dark times and, like you, often reach for something a little more fantastical from the bookshelf. So, any of Clive Barker’s epic tales – WEAVEWORLD, IMAJICA, or THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW.

    And again, wow.

    Reply
  7. R.J. Mangahas

    This is such an emotional and moving post Toni. Thank you.

    One of the toughest Times of my life (so far) was when Anne died four years ago. I read a lot during that time and I can’t really think of one book in particular that stood out.

    Honestly, it was writing that that got me through. I think this was because I felt like I needed some kind of control in my life because I felt so helpless with the actual circumstances going on around me.

    I hope to one day sit down and write a story for Anne.

    Reply
  8. toni mcgee causey

    Allison, thank you. I had not heard of that one and now have it on my to-be-purchased list. It sounds like something I need to read.

    Aw, Zoë, thank you. And yep, Clive is definitely one I reach for. All great suggestions. Another writer who fascinates me is Neil Gaiman.

    Reply
  9. toni mcgee causey

    R.J., I completely understand. I have a couple of shelves of books I know I’ve read during a dark period, but I usually can’t recall the details, until I start skimming them again. But they got me through.

    The writing… yes. Totally am there with you on that. I think I would go mad without the writing.

    I’m sure you’ll write something for Anne, and she would be proud of you.

    Reply
  10. J.D. Rhoades

    My comfort reads from a season of bad times are actually science fiction: the first three Callahan’s Saloon books by Spider Robinson. Sentimental and occasionally silly (and they got increasingly sillier after the third one), they nevertheless gave me a vision of a place where people gave a damn about each other, where “shared joy is increased, shared pain is lessened.”

    And then I found this community of ours and it all came true (without the aliens and time travelers, although I’m still not so sure about some of you).

    Reply
  11. toni mcgee causey

    You’re welcome, Dusty. And thanks back atcha.

    I hadn’t heard of the Callahan Saloon books–now I am immensely curious and will have to check them out.

    [You realize that Brett is now going to be all paranoid that the antennae still show, right?]

    Reply
  12. Allison Brennan

    Escapist fiction for me, other than crime fiction which I know is weird to everyone except people who read this blog, is the JD Robb series. It’s set in the future, 50 years from now, and is pure fun while still giving me a mystery and thrill and romance. Eve Dallas, top cop, married to the richest man in the universe. I’ve never been disappointed.

    Reply
  13. J.D. Rhoades

    Toni, Robinson’s Stardance books (written with his wife Jeanne, who’s a dancer) are pretty cool, too.

    And ‘fess up, Toni. You’re far too evolved to be from our century. When are you really from?

    Reply
  14. pari

    Toni,You’ve pointed to the most noble part of what we do. Thank you.

    An incredible moment in my life was when a man told me that he’d bought my books for his dying wife and that they made her laugh in her final days, took her mind off the pain and the fear.

    I can’t think of higher praise . . .

    Reply
  15. Ruth

    This really struck a chord with me, as this week I found myself in need of some major comfort reading. We found one of our rescue cats dead in the middle of the road, in a huge pool of blood, on Monday night. As we were getting him off the road and to the vet’s to be cremated, I kept thinking, “I want to be somewhere else. I want to get the vision of all that blood out of my head. I want to disappear inside a book.”

    When I got home that night, I curled up with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which never fails to make me smile. Then I read a couple of the Doctor Who tie-in novels — not great literature, certainly, but what I’d consider my literary version of a popcorn flick. Something that I can just sit back and enjoy without having to think all that much. And it helped. More than anything else, it helped.

    Reply
  16. woodstock

    Thank you, Toni! This is a marvelous post!

    Some thirty years ago, my safe dependable life was shattered, and could not be built back again. I had read Robert Massie’s NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA a few years previously, and enjoyed it. I saw he had a new book, published jointly with his then wife Suzanne, titled JOURNEY. I got it, and was both jolted and, eventually, comforted by that book. I still keep it beside the bed, and perhaps once a month or so, read at least one or two chapters. In the mid fifties, their first child and only son was born with classic hemophilia. At the time, this diagnosis meant invasive bleeding into joints, crippling pain, and if not early death, the prospect of life long disability. The two parents had to come to terms with something they could not change. They found ways to meet the challenges. Eventually the financial windfall from NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA gave them the economic power to ease the struggle, but it was never easy. I realized reading that book, that all kinds of people, in all walks of life face overwhelming tragedy. As frantic as I felt, I was not alone. And especially the chapters written by Suzanne Massie gave me the perspective I needed to see my battle through.

    For fiction – I can always lose myself in duMaurier’s REBECCA. I find something new on every single reading – and I must have read it dozens of times by now. In more recent days, Elizabeth Strout’s ABIDE WITH ME is another excellent story of decent people overwhelmed by tragedy and personal failings who find the paths to help each other.

    Reply
  17. billie

    A few of mine:

    Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea – I was in college and struggling with the idea of what it was I wanted to write, who I was, all of that angst-y stuff, and for some reason this helped pull me through that.

    Ellen Gilchrist, all of her stories and novels over the years – she writes so beautifully about the South, and her characters are so bold and complex, and yet not overblown – regular people, really. She wrote a line in a scene where the MC touches her tongue to the screen in the door and tastes iron, and that one detail took me swirling back to girlhood – and made me realize the tiny details of a regular life’s moment can be truly powerful to readers. It also helped me to learn that she raised four boys before she settled into being a writer, and published her first book in her late forties.

    Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. I read that the year I had a 1-year old and a 3-year old. My efforts at leaving the house were thwarted by the 1-year old daughter, who hated the car seat with a passion, and her 3-year old brother, who also hated his but had learned how to delay gratification. We’d get to the end of our little street (if we were having a good day) and she’d start screaming that he was breathing too loud. He would wait a few moments (while I secretly counted and prayed he wouldn’t do the next thing) and then he would CLUCK. One time. And she would go ballistic.

    Poisonwood Bible transported me out of that point of motherhood, where I felt so trapped and like I had nothing else to define me but those car seat negotiations. It’s pretty fitting that my copy has a child’s pen marks all over it.

    And of course, all the Murderati novels – too many to list, but just take a look at that moving sidebar! I’ve realized while reading through so many of your books that much of my early reading fix was crime and mystery and suspense, and that I’ve needed to let myself incorporate those elements into my own stories.

    That there are so many examples makes a good point – for readers, having good books to turn to is crucial. And for those of us who also write, it’s the go ahead to keep writing.

    Thank you again, Toni – I know so many folks who needed this post right now.

    Reply
  18. Louise Ure

    Jesus, Toni, what a post.

    And here I thought that writing a book at all was a tough thing. Now you want us to try to bind these savage wounds?

    I’m not sure any book at all could comfort these folks save the Bible. But you’ve sure made me think about it.

    Reply
  19. toni mcgee causey

    Thanks, Pooks. Definitely agree with that one.

    And Allison, I found JD Robb because of you, and am now addicted and trying to read her whole backlist.

    Dusty, I’ll check out the Stardance books now — thank you. I grew up dancing (lots and lots of lessons that I loved), so that will be fun.

    As for being evolved? I am cracking up. Just as long as we don’t let my family get to vote on that one, I’ll be safe.

    Reply
  20. toni mcgee causey

    Pari, what an incredible compliment (well deserved). Moments like that make all of the hours worth it, don’t they?

    Ruth! That is so terrible, I am so sorry for your loss. I have two rescue pets, and I know how they can claim your heart. And I love Pride and Prejudice–I think I’ve read it at least once a year. (And I am not telling how often I have seen the movie.)

    Woodstock–I hate that something derailed your life so much, but I am so glad you’re here. NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA sounds like an amazing, heart-wrenching read. And now I’m going to have to check out Elizabeth Stout’s book, too. Thank you.

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  21. toni mcgee causey

    Billie! See, I knew we had similar tastes. I adore Ellen Gilchrist. I read her I CANNOT GET YOU CLOSE ENOUGH and not only was it memorable, but greatly affected my own writing for the exact reason you cited: how attention to detail can resonate through readers, evoking so much more depth. I am ashamed to say I have had Poisonwood Bible here TBR and somehow, did not read it. I don’t know why, but I will, now.

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  22. toni mcgee causey

    Louise, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, now that I’ve made you think about it. er, oops?

    We certainly can’t fix them. Hell, we can’t fix the leaky pipes, the screaming kids, the stubbed toe, either. But we can sure try to make ’em forget about it for a little while.

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  23. Jake Nantz

    Wow. Toni, you amaze me some days. This was a beautiful and poetic posts that reminds me of the emotive and powerful nature of some of Mr. Bruen’s archived posts.

    Just wow.

    I don’t know that I’ve got a single book that’s helped me through dark times, but when I felt like there was something really wrong with me, Stephen King helped. I know it’s a cop-out to throw out such a name author, but just knowing there was someone whose mind was as screwed up and dark as mine made me feel a little less alien.

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  24. toni mcgee causey

    Jake, that is one of the finest, best compliments I have ever received. I could never touch Ken’s beauty, but thank you, you have given me hope.

    I honestly don’t think it’s a cop out, though, to mention name authors–they’re a name for a reason. It’s great that you have a great go-to author, and I’m glad you’re inspired. (As long as you’re not inspired to re-enact Misery, we’re good.) 😉

    Reply
  25. Jake Nantz

    Don’t worry Toni. I want to BE an author, not stalk one. Of course, I’m always worried my overeager enthusiasm will look like stalking, but I’m just a goofball that likes to tell stories and be around people who do the same.

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  26. toni mcgee causey

    LOL… ya know, I wasn’t even thinking of it like that, Jake (meaning, I just mentally grabbed Misery because it’s the scariest).

    You, however, have been officially adopted over here at ‘Rati (several times over), so you have no worries whatsoever. We’re all very glad you’re here.

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  27. Jen Brubacher

    This is incredible. Thank you.

    My comfort read is only one passage of a book. It’s from Gabriel King’s ‘The Wild Road,’ and it’s just one scene where a cat finds snow. He’s a show cat who has never seen snow before, but knows academically that snow is what his paws and fur were designed for, given his breed, and his absolute happiness at finding a thing to demonstrate exactly what he is, and show him that he’s *right*, is the most joyful and wonderful scene I’ve ever read.

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  28. Catherine

    I found dark comfort in Shakespeare in my teens.Although I’ve healed now, the trigger events are still too deeply personal to detail here. I found that the themes of betrayal and anger, often wild anger connected me with something larger than myself. It gave validity to my anger in a larger context. At the time my anger felt epic. Also I think I gained some perspective that throughout history people and characters have suffered and triumphed, lived and died and that this would pass.

    As I’ve aged the books I read to distract me have changed. I find I’m attracted to books with underlying themes or values that I may want to reinforce in my life or sometimes add to my life.

    Admittedly I find these themes oftentimes within books of murder and mayhem, romance and fantasy, but these books are where the emotions are often undiluted. The values are writ large. These tales serve as a backdrop to my own happenings, in the way we often seek out music or perfume to match our mood.

    Thanks again Toni, for an evocative post.

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  29. Penny

    When I was a young mother with four little ones of my own and three juvenile delinquent stepsons I lived for naptime and bedtime so I could lose myself in romance novels. I needed the escape, the emotion, the comfort they gave me. I still read romance, even though the kids are older. I still need the escape, the emotion, and the comfort. I have ventured out of romance to JD Robb’s In Death series, which I could read every day because I love to lose myself in her books, and to Dean Koontz, who has such intriguing characters.

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  30. toni mcgee causey

    Jen, thank you. And that sounds like a wondrous scene. There was a scene like that for me in Dorothy Dunnett’s THE LYMOND CHRONICLES–one of my favorite series. In it, the military spy, the anti-hero who’s had no qualms about destroying whomever he must–suddenly realizes just how he feels about someone. It is so unexpected for him, and he is so unable to process it, to accept it, and Dunnett handled it with such understated talent, I can still see that scene now, some twenty years after having read it.

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  31. toni mcgee causey

    woodstock — thank you–(I am glad you caught that–I’d managed to transpose that in my own mind just between reading it and responding). (Kinda how Rob was talking about standing in the other room, not realizing why once we’ve wandered there.) Okay, now I am putting JOURNEY on the must read list. Any book that has been a go-to book for that long by you has got to be good.

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  32. toni mcgee causey

    Catherine, I was going to pluck out one sentence there and say, “Yes, that’s IT” and then I kept highlighting the whole thing.

    I don’t know how I would have survived certain periods if, like you, I hadn’t found that sort of connection, where I saw that other people had been through things and survived them. More times than I can count, I’d realize I’d just read three or four books in a row on the same theme, though I hadn’t intended that at the outset, and it helped me pry through the wall and figure out what was driving me.

    Thank you, Catherine.

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  33. Catherine

    I should probably amend my comment about emotions being undiluted…in books I currently enjoy, (even series) because there is a definite beginning and end story point, for that time the emotions (while nuanced) often are to me explicit. Also because of clear story arcs the values that underpin the action are readily apparent. I can also put my hand up to enjoying the JD Robb books for pretty much the above reasoning.

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  34. toni mcgee causey

    Penny–you dealt with SEVEN children all at once and you are still coherent? Wow. I’m serious about that. Wow. I think that’s amazing.

    I love romances–especially romantic thrillers or suspense where there’s a solid thriller/mystery and still, the couple have to figure out how to make the relationship work. Because in life, we can’t have the plot and put the family/life stuff on hold ’til we save the world. It all gets messy and has to be dealt with at once.

    I’m really glad you found what works for you and glad you’re here! (And still coherent!) (I am still amazed.)

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  35. toni mcgee causey

    Thanks, Janet–glad you stopped by.

    Catherine–yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve been buying up series lately. (I tend to go through great reading binges.) There is something very satisfying to finding a series that has several books it in already–where each story feels complete, but that world is not over for me. More to learn, more ways for the characters to grow, more exploration of what it means to be.

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  36. Catherine

    Toni you do realise that I wrote my amendment because I was concerned that here, (where a pack of authors dwell), it was probably good to clarify that while I felt the emotions were writ large, it is the nuances, the build up, the journey that gives the impact and resonance for the reader.

    Communication… gotta love it.

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  37. Fran

    I thought I was cried out — our much beloved dog died early this morning — but no, you reached out and touched me. Thank you.

    I can lose myself with Eve Dallas and Roarke too, and Laurie R. King’s “Folly” is a story for healing, I agree.

    Oddly, though, when I need serious comfort, I turn without hesitation to either Dorothy Gilman’s “The Tightrope Walker” or Morris West’s “The Clowns of God”. Two completely different books, and yet both give me hope and courage.

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  38. toni mcgee causey

    Catherine–hey, I am dense sometimes, (okay, a lot of times), so I skipped right past that part and focused on something else. But no worries, I think you were not only very clear, but you articulated it in a way that resonated well.

    This is why I am so grateful to you and all of the commenters. We have such a great group here–people illuminate things for me in the comments I would have never thought of and I’ve learned so much from you all. I wish I could sit in a room and just listen to you all talk.

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  39. toni mcgee causey

    Oh, Fran, I am so sorry for your loss. My own beloved dog is nearly 15. Thank you, for the compliment.

    Another vote for King’s FOLLY. Now I am truly intrigued. And I had never heard of the other two you mentioned (I feel like I must’ve been living under a rock, to have missed such great books as you all have suggested today). I’m definitely putting these on my must-check-out list. Thank you.

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  40. Natalie Hatch

    I guess sometimes when we’re writing we forget the reader and really just write for writings sake. I know of many books that have affected me and helped me through. For myself I tend to go towards comedies to help take my mind off the stresses of life, Terry Pratchett being my favourite, he’s light hearted.Great post.

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  41. JM

    Thank you.

    I read ‘Writing Down the Bones’. That was the book that got me through when I was dealing with depression and wondering if my writing was just a silly game I was playing with myself. Then I realized it was all I had at the time to get me through.

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  42. toni mcgee causey

    Thanks, Natalie. Terry Pratchett is a great suggestion. And Carl Hiaason, as well. (And for those who like action adventure/thrillers with romance, I cracked up all through Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer’s AGNES AND THE HITMAN.

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  43. toni mcgee causey

    JM, I’m glad you mentioned that one–I thought it was an excellent book, very validating and helpful. Two other favorites in that realm are Anne LaMott’s BIRD BY BIRD and Dennis Palumbo’s WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Palumbo is a psychotherapist in private practice in LA and wrote a monthly column for the WGA’s “Written By” magazine. Excellent, encouraging advice in there.

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  44. Abbie

    Oh, wow. Thank you for that post.

    The books that immediately came to mind were Patrick O’Brian’s Maturin/Aubrey novels. I listened to them from audible after moving to a strange town where I knew no one in order to complete a degree I didn’t like so that I could do something I did not enjoy so that I could (in the end) complete a masters degree that allows me to do a job I enjoy very much. The goal was so far away then. I was lonely and depressed and broke. My favorite cat died unexpectedly. I was weaning myself off anti-depressants. I was having panic attacks.

    I lived with Jack and Steven. I went to bed with them and got up with them. Patrick Tull spoke their voices in my head all day long, and it felt like a reason to live. I went through all twenty-one books that year, and I really did feel like my only friends lived inside my MP3 player. Life has gotten better since, but I still have a soft spot for anything involving the Age of the Sail.

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  45. MG Tarquini

    Years ago, while working as an ultrasound tech at a pediatric hospital, I was in the ICU doing an abdominal scan on a little girl with biliary atresia whose younger brother had died just a few months earlier of biliary atresia. It wasn’t my first ultrasound on that little girl, but I knew, looking at the images, that it would be my last.

    Beside the little girl’s bed her mother read a book and smiled. Really, truly SMILED. In the couple of years I’d know the woman, I don’t think I’d ever seen her smile.

    Then she chuckled.

    I looked at what she was reading – A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, a book I’d read a few months previous and laughed over so hard my rib cage hurt. Thank what writing gods there be Mr. Mayle provided that kind lady a few moments of respite during a very dark time.

    Great post, Toni. Thanks.

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  46. Sarah

    “East ‘o the Sun, West ‘o the Moon,” illustrated by P. J. Lynch. December 17, 2006.

    A week earlier, my sister had been trying to help a friend leave her boyfriend, and witnessed her friend’s murder, the boyfriend’s suicide. I remember trying to hold her close enough that I would be more real that what she kept remembering, seeing, smelling. She’s my younger sister-part of my heart- and I had never felt so helpless and determined and broken.

    God willing, I’ll be a children’s author someday, so I’d seen this book before. But I actually checked it out of the library to look at it that week. For some reason, the colors made sense- the gloom and ugliness of some pictures, the beauty of the happy ending. I needed to remind myself there could be happy endings.

    I still remember that.

    Thanks for the post! I’m so glad Janet mentioned it.

    Reply
  47. toni mcgee causey

    Abbie, that comment is such a great testament to your perseverance and tenacity–and the hard work it takes to make a dream come true. I don’t know if many of us would have been able to do that, facing a year in a new place, doing something we did not like, while not knowing anyone, having any family or friends around for support and encouragement. I had not heard of this series, but I love series, and now I am looking forward to finding them. Thank you!

    Reply
  48. toni mcgee causey

    MG, I’m with you — thank the writing gods for Mr. Mayle and the relief he gave that woman. I cannot fathom how hard it must be to lose one child and know you were going to lose another. Just. Cannot. Fathom. Thank you for mentioning his book–I had not heard of it and will get it now.

    Reply
  49. Sherri Fillingham

    Wow, Toni.

    Yours was a name I hadn’t seen in a while and someone passed this link to me. My first thought was, “I’ve met her,” and the second was, “Wow.” I cried.

    I lost my mom six months ago and spent the last three weeks of her life (including my birthday) sitting in a hospital room being told she would be okay when she clearly knew she wouldn’t be. This post hit home in a very, very big way. Thanks for writing it and sharing it. Thanks for reminding me that sometimes I need to write to bind my own wounds (and that I haven’t written in awhile).

    As for my comfort reading … I go one of two ways. Either the comfort of the familarity of Terry Pratchett’s early books, or well written non-fiction of the scientific type (interesting, but usually dispassionate in terms of personal involvement on an emotional level).

    Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    Reply
  50. toni mcgee causey

    Sarah, my God, how devastating. And the way you said that–trying to hold onto her so tightly that you were more real than what she was remembering–heart breaking. I’m so glad you had a good book. Children’s books are so important. I think we sometimes forget how moving they can be and how critical they are for helping kids–and the kids in all of us–get through really tough times. Thank you.

    Reply
  51. toni mcgee causey

    Sherri, wow, that is so rough, going through that. I am so very sorry for your loss–I don’t know that we ever really heal from something so devastating. I think we become someone a little different.

    It’s good to “see” you again–and yes, you should be writing. 😉 Thank you, very much, for the compliment, and for stopping by.

    Reply
  52. Amie

    Amazing.

    And I have to throw Lolly Winston’s Good Grief in the mix. It’s one of my all-time fave books and something I picked up a couple of years after I lost my mom.

    And I still have a soft spot for those old regencies. As a teen I lived 14 miles out of town with one neighbor (who was also my lending library!).

    Reply
  53. toni mcgee causey

    Ah, Amie, you have just reminded me of happy memories when I was 12 or 13–we’d just moved to a house in the country and no one close by my age. My aunt showed up for a visit and she brought with her boxes of books. She’d worked at a bookstore and she couldn’t have brought gold and made a kid happier. I still remember that reading binge that summer. [My parents, however, probably remember that as the summer I disappeared, because I’d read all hours of the night and, typical teenager, sleep all the next day. I don’t think I saw the actual sun for weeks.]

    Thank you — and thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  54. Emilie

    Toni, thank you.

    You always know what to say when I’m lost. You made me cry in a coffeeshop crowded with law and med students just now, as you made me laugh on full buses with Bobbie Faye. For making me look like a lunatic with the crying and laughing and making sure that I know I’m not alone.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  55. Sarah

    Thank you for the post, Toni.

    The way you began it- the rape victim remembering again and again- reminded me of my sister. I could watch her face and tell when she was seeing the shooting again.

    You’re right, children’s books can be comforting on such a basic level. I wasn’t thinking that then; I just didn’t have the stamina for anything longer than 32 pages. (Truth be told, I felt silly mentioning a picture book among so many wonderful adult books.)

    I should say that she’s doing so well now: happily married and truly singing again. (She’s a professional singer.) What she witnessed will always be part of her, but I’ve watched it fade over the past two years.

    All my best…

    Reply
  56. Catherine

    Sometimes someone will write something …or raise a topic that really hits a nerve, and I want to be able to link in, connect with what’s been said, but then I get the mind wobbles whether I’ll be able to express what I want to clearly…or even a sense of what I mean…

    I’ve sometimes looked at a comment that’s too late to pull back and mentally groaned. I get concerned that in my mental rush to connect things as I type, something sometimes gets lost in translation. So I’m very glad that at least my initial comment came through true today.

    Toni, there are so many times on Murderati that a topic is raised, or a point of view put forth that extends me past what I’ve originally thought. I value the wider impact my reading has felt by reading Murderati. I’m glad to see you gain that too.

    Reply
  57. Joe Iriarte

    I followed a link over from Janet Reid’s blog. What a powerful post this is. And what a celebration of the real value of storytelling.

    A book that was the right book at the right time for me was Ordinary People, by Judith Guest. I lived through some fairly traumatic events in my childhood, and at fourteen I attempted suicide. My parents were not believers in psychotherapy or psychiatry, though, so I was largely left to put the pieces of my life back together for myself.

    When I was sixteen or so, this book was assigned reading in a high school lit class. Although my traumas were not Conrad’s, I felt as I read this that I was, through him, receiving some of the therapy I so desperately needed. I spent many nights with that book in my room, sobbing, feeling for the first time. When I finished it, I was not yet whole, but I was far healthier than I had been when I began. There were so many little ways in which that book told me that the things about myself I thought were despicable were actually okay, and that I was actually okay too.

    It’s quite possible that book saved my life.

    I don’t think I have it in me right now to do for a reader what Judith Guest did for me, but maybe I can help a reader get away for a few hours.

    I hope so.

    Reply
  58. toni mcgee causey

    God, Joe, I am so sorry you had to go through that. And so very sorry you didn’t have the help, but thank goodness that book came into your life. Such a profound testament–I so appreciate you telling this story. It is truly a witness to your fortitude and inner strength that you made it, and now can help others along the way.

    Thank you, and thank you for stopping by.

    Reply
  59. Amy Nathan

    That was an amazing post and wonderful comments – equally informative and inspirational. I have nothing to add. Quite unlike me. But I will carry “Write for them” with me as I write. A simple yet eloquent and powerful reminder of the power of our stories…or so we can hope.

    Reply
  60. House 6

    I’m crying, this is beautiful.

    On the bad days I reach for sci-fi, it seems the world is so much simpler, all your problems smaller when you can reach the stars and hold the ice of eternal night in your hand.

    Reply
  61. M.J.

    I’ll add another wow, Toni, amazing post.

    I’ve read so many books in so many hospital rooms I can’t count but when I’m at my worst its Rebecca, The Fountainhead, A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden anything by P.D. James or Robbert Goddard.

    When my mother died I was so devastated I didn’t do anything for six months but read every day. I have no memory of a single one of those books but for six months they kept me from shattering.

    Reply
  62. toni mcgee causey

    Thank you, M.J. And you’ve reminded me that I want to pull out good memories–I want to go grab my dog-eared copies of several favorites, including Wrinkle.

    So very sorry you’ve spent so much time in hospital rooms, especially losing your mom. So very glad those stories got you through such a difficult time.

    Reply
  63. Sarah

    I have whole shelves of murder mysteries that I can re-read because I don’t remember whodunnit- I was reading to escape a very bad time. What I do remember is how comforted I was that the moral universe was righted in the end, every time. May it always be so, and not just in books.

    Reply
  64. toni mcgee causey

    Sarah, thank you. I think that’s one of the best things about genre fiction that does provide so much comfort; we don’t necessarily know how we’re going to get to that end where things come out right, but it’s satisfying to know that somehow, the writer is going to get us there. And like you said, may it always be so.

    Reply
  65. Catherine

    This really strikes a chord with me. When I was a little girl, bullied and abused by classmates, I had comfort stories too. Mine was Peter Pan. More than ten years later that idea has stuck with me, and books are still a wonderful escape.

    Reply
  66. Joyce Tremel

    I’m going to print this out and post it somewhere I can see it when I wonder for at least the hundredth time in a week why I bother to keep writing. Thanks, Toni.

    My comfort book is To Kill a Mockingbird. I love Scout’s voice. For some reason it’s comforting to read how she goes from an innocent child to someone who manages to hold onto innocence and sense of justice in spite of what goes on.

    Reply
  67. Pat Kay

    Amazing post. You brought tears to my eyes more than once. You also brought some perspective. We writers tend to get caught up in so many negatives that we forget the positives — the fact that we impact the lives of others, that they look to us to help them through the really bad times. As far as the books I look to when I need to escape, almost always I reach for a thriller. And I write romance and women’s fiction. So why a thriller? Because then I can be scared in a safe way and forget what’s going on in my own life. Thank you for your wonderful post.

    Reply
  68. Anna Claire

    I didn’t have the best middle school experience, but reading Nancy Drew books made me feel like the coolest butt-kicking girl on the planet. I might be awkward and unlovely on the outside, but deep down I could do everything Nancy did–with confidence!

    Reply
  69. joylene

    You really are amazing, Toni. And obviously strong willed and minded. I can feel you bleeding for these characters, this woman in particular. What I need to know is how do you separate yourself long enough to write her story?

    I read your post and instantly I see her alone in that room and I’m overcome by emotions so strong that I’m rendered useless, and in seconds I’m bawling like a baby.

    In times like that, I sleep, then wake to watch marathons of CSI; anything to erase that woman from my thoughts. If I’m feeling particularly stricken, I pick up Stephen King’s little book “On Writing”. I listen to his voice and yearn to create again.

    Thanks for this wonderful lesson in finding my muse.

    Reply
  70. Fona

    Oh, Toni, what a moving post. It makes me think more about a possible audience for may WIP.

    I found a deep need for books to escape the pain (physical and emotional) of infertility. I not only read an amazing amount and variety during that time, but I began working with a child literacy program in Minneapolis.

    Mystery, SF/F, Thrillers, you name it—-I read so much and found some great new-to-me authors. It also gave my DH & me something to tale about other than the empty nursery and umpteen medical procedures.

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  71. Tracy

    Thanks so much for this post. I write for kids and I was just thinking last night that I don’t really write with all kids in mind. I write with one particular child in mind. Me. I write her stories that would have helped. Stories with strong heroines who don’t have easy lives, but find their way through. I was thinking last night that maybe this isn’t such a good thing, to be so narrowly focused. Fell asleep with a bit of doubt curled there beside me.

    There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and getting a giant blast of validation. Really. Thank you so much. Your post helped remind me that I am not terminally unique. There are other kids out there just like I was. Maybe they need my stories, too.

    Reply
  72. Jo Leigh

    Fabulous, moving post. Thank you.

    I recently lost my husband and when the numbness was replaced by pain, I turned to Harry Potter. Read all 7 in 5 days, just drank them in like tonic. Courage, friendship, doing right instead of easy – they were all reminders for me that I still live, that there is a reason to fight on.

    Reply
  73. Heather

    As a result of this post, I’ve added to my list of things I’ll do when I get published.

    I will donate copies of my book to the local women’s shelters, so the clients will have something fun to read to distract themselves for a time.

    Thanks for this. Reminds me how important writing is.

    Reply
  74. toni mcgee causey

    sophie, thank you — I will have to search her out, now.

    Catherine–Peter Pan–fun suggestion. Thank you. I personally think the schools ought to just go ahead and be honest in their labeling and call middle-school ‘hell’ — it would save on the confusion.

    TadMack — thank you. Much appreciate all of you stopping by.

    Reply
  75. toni mcgee causey

    Thank you, Joyce. I’m so glad you mentioned TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; that brings back such good memories of Scout’s voice. I like the way you describe her.

    Jeanie W, thank you! I’m glad you all dropped in, too. (And thanks again to Janet and MJ Rose for the linkage.)

    Excellent perspective, Pat, on thrillers. I do love them for that same reason–we get to be in danger, and yet, safe, at the same time. It’s very satisfying.

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  76. toni mcgee causey

    Lisa and Marti, thank you! Very much.

    Anna Claire, Nancy Drew rocks! I too was the coolest (cough*notsomuch*cough) butt-kicking detective in middle school as well.

    Kim, thank you! I’m so glad y’all stopped by.

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  77. toni mcgee causey

    Joylene, you asked, “What I need to know is how do you separate yourself long enough to write her story?” and I think that’s a brilliant question. (I wish I had a brilliant answer.)

    It’s really hard, isn’t it, as a writer–if we’re going to do a good job connecting to readers, we have to risk exposure to emotions that are rough. We have to step into and inhabit characters who are going through pain, and then find a way to step back out and illuminate it without getting lost in it and losing the story for the moment. I have lots of thoughts about that… um, now that you’ve got me to thinking about it, and I think in two weeks (my next turn here), I’ll post on that. Thank you – and thank you for the compliment. That it made you *feel* so much is a huge compliment.

    Reply
  78. toni mcgee causey

    Jo Leigh and Rhonda–I’m so sorry for your losses. Thank goodness for those books–I’m so glad they brought you some comfort.

    My youngest son and I shared the Harry Potter books–they made him believe reading was fun, which was one of the first books ever to do so, so I will be forever grateful to them. And Rhonda, Clancy is definitely distracting, isn’t he? I’m glad he was able to keep you busy during those flights-that had to have been tough.

    Thank you both for posting and coming by.

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  79. toni mcgee causey

    Heather–that is a great suggestion. Thank you! I saw elsewhere (on Janet’s blog) where someone else mentioned books being donated to hospitals. I think both of these ideas are excellent and I’m going to check here locally to see if I can do the same. Thank you for mentioning this.

    Reply
  80. Linda

    Blog-hopped from Janet Reid’s and, well, like wow. I’m going to add to my blogroll, and I’m not even a murder and mayhem kind of writer (well, maybe a little…).

    This is a powerful post, one needed for the writing community, especially we pre-pubbed writers looking for a break and realizing the odds just disintegrated along with the nasdaq. Along with Moonrat’s recent post on buying books, this packs a punch. So thank you…

    And my ‘comfort food’ found between hard covers? Strangely, I like reading about misery and tough times that empower the protagonist because such stories make me realize how damn good life truly is and the potential for the rest of my time on this planet. To have the freedom to think and read, to write without fear of sanction – what a gift.

    So, when life kick-boxes me in the teeth:–HALFWAY HOUSE by Katherine Noel. How a family copes when a promising daughter experiences a psychotic break.–THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger. A love story pushed to the max by obstacles.–Anything by Joyce Carol Oates. Ditto for Barbara Kingsolver.–THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY by Asimov. Those characters had trouble, as did those hobbits in LOTR.

    Just for starters. Thanks for an inspiring post. Peace, Linda

    Reply
  81. JT Ellison

    I always turn to Diana Gabaldon for comfort. Goodness, Toni. I slip away for a day and you’ve written one of the most moving posts I think I’ve ever read. WELL DONE.

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  82. toni mcgee causey

    JT and Holly–thank you.

    JT, I really enjoyed Gabaldon’s Outlander series, particularly the first two in that series. Good reminder.

    Linda, so glad it was helpful! Thank you. Also, love the suggestions, particularly THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. I hadn’t expected to like it (I came to it after the hype, which can tend to set up unrealistic expectations), but I found it fascinating. I’m so drawn to broken-time stories. Lots of excellent mentions there–so glad you dropped by.

    Reply
  83. BFS

    Oh my goodness! I needed this! As strange as this will sound, the first ‘comfort’ book that came to my mind was THIS PRESENT DARKNESS by Peretti. It was hard to get into, but once I was in it, I couldn’t put it down. I needed it, as it was an especially difficult time in my life.

    Reply
  84. red tin heart

    Toni, I am new to your site, but I really love your writing. I agree with what you said about needing to escape without physically abandoning the family. We so need a break from the sadness we see on a daily basis.I want to write a story for the rape victim.A book that I read during a really hard time in my life was, She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.For some reason I just love that book. It was a long read but a good one.xoxo Nita

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  85. Suzanne Adair

    Toni,

    I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read to escape. That’s why I read fiction. That’s why I write it, too, so my readers and I can escape. Some of the most moving feedback I’ve received from readers has been, “You helped me forget about ____ for awhile.” Thanks for a post that tells it like it is.

    Suzanne Adairwww.suzanneadair.com

    Reply
  86. Kenna Coltman

    This post had me in tears. You can’t imagine how very insistent that NEED becomes when the real world becomes too real to take in.

    I write for the same reason. Last July, when we were in the hospital with our 8-year-old son, diagnosed with leukemia, the compulsion to write became unbearable. In between doctor visits, and playing with Caleb while he was awake, I would immerse myself in my WIP. It helped allay the waking nightmare that I was immersed in, especially in the dark hours of the night, when I was alone with my own thoughts.

    Thank you for this eloquent post!

    Reply
  87. Kari Wolfe

    When I was younger (like about 19-20-21), there was a time when I was so lonely… I didn’t really have any friends and, of course, I didn’t have a boyfriend (which, for some reason, is what REALLY mattered). I just felt very, very alone.

    What brought me through this was Sherlock Holmes. I read all the books and all the stories and, in a way, Sherlock became the lover that I needed at that time.

    So I’ll always have a soft spot for Sherlock. 🙂

    Reply
  88. Jane Henry

    What a great post.

    Comfort reading for me is always Terry Pratchett because he is so funny and wise and humane.

    But at times of great stress I always like to go back to my old favourites which I count as friends, and for that reason the ultimate comfort read for me is probably Far From the Madding Crowd, which is the most optimistic probably of Hardy’s novels and makes me think of sunshine and haymaking and the English countryside. Oh and sheep… and has funnily enough crept into the book I’ve just finished.

    I wrote my first novel while in the grip of a bereavement and found it very therapeutic. That hasn’t been published but am about to revisit the whole experience in my next book. I couldnt’ think of a higher accolade then hearing someone say something I’d written had comforted them…

    Reply
  89. Shane Gericke

    Toni, this is one of the most magnificent pieces of writing I’ve seen ever. Thank you for this treasure, which I intend to pass along to everyone I know who loves books … or just loves life.

    I hope you are well and living large. For a small moment when you began, I thought you were writing about you, and thank God that wasn’t the case.

    I would recommend your own books to people wanting to escape this world and join another, if only for a brief time. Your writing is balm to souls of all sorts.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and again, thanks for this.

    Reply
  90. Stagmom

    Well, that provides motivation recently sapped by the economy and general state of things.

    And the timing is great for me to read this (thanks to Janet Reid.) While I’m not physically battered, life has thrown us a few too many curves lately, and I’ve been reading EXACTLY the books that were written for me. I just discovered Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak mysteries. (We share an agent. Chris makes money for him. Moi? Don’t ask.) The combination of a good mystery, the Jersey Shore and Springsteen lyrics is a perfect escape.

    Books are comfort. Motivation. Solace. Power. Fantasy. God bless books.

    KIM

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  91. Genene

    To echo many others: wow, Toni!

    A friend of mine sent this to me (thanks, Laurie!) and this will be one of the rare messages I pass along.

    I don’t read much for escape any more, but I strive to write stories that will honor men and women like those in your post. These are people who don’t just endure life’s darkest trials, but who emerge with shining hope and soul-deep strength. They make their own happily-ever-after endings.

    Thank you for the reminder of how powerful our words can be and how sometimes the simplest gesture can be a life-saving connection to another soul.

    Reply
  92. Carol Garvin

    “A Burden Shared” by Jane Kirkpatrick (reissued this past summer as “A Simple Gift of Comfort”) was given to me by friends just after I’d had my cancer surgery. I read it over and over and over. When I was able to focus on longer books I went back to Jane’s other stories and gained encouragement reading about the obstacles her characters had overcome in lives that were far more difficult than mine.

    Reply
  93. toni mcgee causey

    BFS — I am intrigued–I’ve got a favorite like that (hard to get into, but well worth sticking–Dorothy Dunnett’s THE LYMOND CHRONICLES, which is very military historical). Once she had me hooked, though, I devoured the whole series.

    Red Tin Heart–She’s Come Undone was one of the books I’d had on my TBR pile. Now I’m going to have to move it up the stack. Thank you.

    Shari, Stephen and Susan, thank you.

    Suzanne, I agree–isn’t that just about the best compliment?

    Kenna–I cannot imagine how tough that was. Just cannot. My youngest son had a close call when he was four and was hospitalized for four days and I thought that was interminable. I cannot fathom how you dealt with that without shattering. So very glad you had the work to turn to. I deeply, fervently hope Caleb is well now.

    Kari–isn’t that the way of it? Boyfriends matter so very very much at that age, and it’s tough to find the right fit. It’s such a huge transitional age, and I know how you feel–I ended up in a different city from where I grew up (just near enough to be “home” but not close enough for visits) and had to try to branch out and make new friends. Thank goodness I had books.

    Kathy–I am cracking up. You are a woman after my own heart. (Can you just imagine if those two actually did try to team up?)

    Jane, I am mortified to say I hadn’t read Hardy (I am not sure how I managed that), but now I am curious and am going to go look that one up. The sheep, however, are making me laugh tonight. I just had this image of random sheep popping up all over your book’s landscape. [I am strange, I know. I had one book where there was a character who kept getting stoned around a pet rabbit, who, in turn, was constantly stoned. I still love that rabbit.]

    Jordan and Thomma–thank you so much.

    Shane, thank you. Wow. [And yes, you are absolutely right that this was not about me.] What a kind compliment, all of it. And Happy Thanksgiving back atcha.

    Kim–thank you, and so glad to help, even if just a little. And you have tenacity *and* Springsteen–pretty damned good combination in my book.

    Genene–thank you. What a great way to put it, to honor those “who emerge with shining hope and soul-deep strength.”

    Carol–what a great recommendation–and I am crossing fingers and toes that the surgery went well and the cancer is gone for good.

    Reply
  94. Marie-Claude Bourque

    Hi Tony,This is a beautiful post. I’ve been accused recently of escaping reality by reading and attempting to write fiction. But is it such a bad thing to want to create a world where things end well, where emotions are so powerful or pure and raw that they transport us somewhere else for a moment. Somewhere where we can believe truth and nobility prevails. Yes, to want to create these magical worlds for others and also for us is a wonderful thing.

    When I want comfort, I read Robert B Parker. I read all of his books at least three times. 🙂

    Reply
  95. Jennifer

    When I was a junior in college, I hit a rough patch. The entire year was rough, from losing people, bad news, having to manage difficult things on my own. It did get better, as life is wont to do, but it took some time.

    During the hardest part of it? I was reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To the day, its one of my favorite books, and reminds me, even when I think no one can understand, an orphaned wizard reminds me that he gets it.

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  96. Bonnie Vanak

    Thank you so much for reminding me of one of the most important reasons to write. What a wonderful, wonderful post.

    When my mother was dying from cancer, I read romance. Can’t remember what books, my mind is blurred from that time, but I knew I’d find an escape.

    I have a friend in Haiti who was kidnapped at gunpoint several years ago and blindfolded. To this day she can’t sleep, and each time she closes her eyes, she relives the feel of the muzzle against her temple. So she reads at night to fall asleep. She loves English books, but has a very hard time getting books in Haiti so whenever I visit, I bring her lots. She’s so very grateful for whatever I can bring her.

    Books provide a real comfort for her.

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  97. Ciar Cullen

    Wonderful post. I just found some solace after the initial grief of my mom’s passing in The Secret Life of Bees. Just the joy of reading such beautifully crafted sentences lifted me up.

    When my husband was really touch and go with pneumonia and I sat bedside, I picked up a Nora Roberts romance–The Reef. Silly and perhaps formulaic, it took me out of the cold and sterile to a tropical setting where the couple lives happily ever after. I was engaged and wasn’t sure I was going to have my own tropical wedding (we had a happy ending too).

    Such food for thought, this post.

    Reply
  98. Kathryn, South Australia

    I found this post from a link at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

    I know exactly what you mean Toni. You said it so well.

    A couple of years ago I suffered through the 2nd of 3 miscarriages. I was so totally lost. No-one knew what to do with me. No-one knew what to say and I felt so alone – even from my husband. I felt like a failure and so totally rejected and betrayed that I just didn’t know what to do with myself. The screaming was in my head and I wanted to get away from it. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be an accusation. So, I turned to books. The first book I read was a Christian romance by Francine Rivers (a gift from a friend who knew just what I needed) and that led me back to reading romance books, including romantic suspense and lots of other subgenres. For months, I read as an escape – a way to stop the noises in my head and to take myself away from a reality I didn’t want to be in and couldn’t cope with.

    I still read, more for pleasure than escape these days but I remember that time and I don’t know what I would have done if not for the stories I read. There are still days (I’m sure everyone has them) when “getting away” is such a blessing. Anyone who can read can take a “holiday” in a book.So, I echo your thoughts Toni – write for me.

    thank you.

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  99. Christine

    Stephen King. When life was scary, it helped to read something scarier, where the bad guys were actually monsters and the good guy almost always won.

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  100. E.

    Thanks for this inspiring post. I work for a publisher and this is a nice shot in the arm as we must tighten our belts. My comfort reading is always things I read as a young person: Little House series, Anne of Green Gables series, Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time (and the sequels), etc.

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  101. anny cook

    Struggling to finish writing a book today. Thank you for giving me a reason. Even if it brings a smile only to my editor, it will be worth it!

    Comfort reads…Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer, any of the “Midnight” books by Lisa Marie Rice, almost any book by Brian Jacques.

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  102. Rebecca

    I shared the link to this post on my blog today. I found it via Carol Garvin's blog, and I was so touched by this I had to share it with everyone.

    Thank you for changing my views on what it means to be a writer and ensuring that I won't give up. Ever.

    Reply
  103. Chas Hathaway

    Great post. Sometimes even in the middle of writing a book, a sense of discouragement clouds the desire to write – this post does such a great job encouraging us to keep going! Thanks so much for that!

    Reply
  104. Afsaneh

    Thank you.
    This is why i write – because I know there are people who need it. There are people who have to be somewhere else or they won't be themselves.
    The last book I read which helped me through so many problems was To Kill A Mockingbird.
    It's a classic, an oldy but a goody and made me believe that there's always good when you need it.

    Reply
  105. Joan Kane Nichols

    The books that got me through the early years of my twenties–no money, living with in-laws, the death of a baby, a husband who couldn't hold a job, a deteriorating marriage, temp and part-time jobs below my abilities, four children in seven years and piles of diapers–were the novels of Henry James.

    Being absorbed in the lives of people with problems so unlike mine, so much more rarefied than mine, was both an escape into a better world and a spur to move myself and my kids into a world that would be better for us.

    A belated thank you to Henry, Isabel Archer, and the rest of the gang.

    Reply

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