Friday, August 04, 2006

TGIF: Comfort Reads

So I have an entire box of (free) books that just arrived from National, a looming deadline, and three children underfoot because our babysitter quit (that's the topic of another post), plus a week's vacation planned in a week where I won't get any work done...and last night I picked up Trojan Gold, by Elizabeth Peters--a book I've read at least ten times.

I blame Rosario for this. We got to talking about the Vicky Bliss series, by Elizabeth Peters, which is my ultimate, all-time favorite group of books (four; five if you count the first one, which isn't nearly as fun as the ones with Vicky and John Smythe, and six if you count John's cameo appearance in yet another Peters book).

Rosario mentioned that she was rereading the series (which officially begins with Borrower of the Night, but it's not one of my favorites, even though it gives some good backstory), as she often does, and I jumped on that bandwagon, 'cause I do too.

And I started thinking about it, and why--I've read these books, particularly the last two, countless times; there are no surprises!--and I realized that they're my Comfort Reads. I know what I'm going to get, I know how they're going to make me feel, and I love the characters.

It's like chicken soup, meatloaf, apple pie, chocolate, fried chicken, pot roast. Comfort food. Comfort reads.
So what's up with these books that I keep coming back to?

Vicky Bliss is like a chick-lit detective before there was chick-lit. The books are written in her wry, witty first person voice, and she is a gorgeous blond Minnesotan (who self-deprecatingly talks about how she looms over most men due to her Scandinavian genes) with a doctorate in Art History, who lives and works in Germany.

She gets involved in adventures in Rome (Street of the Five Moons), Denmark (Silhouette in Scarlet), Bavaria (Trojan Gold), and Egypt (Night Train to Memphis). She's got men attracted to her like crazy, especially in Trojan Gold and Night Train, but her heart belongs to an antiquities thief!

These are mysteries with an over arching love story, and while they aren't romances, as Rosario says, the declaration of love in Trojan Gold is one of the best ever. And Night Train, the last (so far) in the series, is one of the most romantic stories I've ever read, even though it's not a romance.

Peters downplays the love story, keeps it so subtle, covered under wit and disguised by action and mystery, with extremely literate writing, that when it actually bubbles to the surface, it's so much more effective than many romances that are pure love stories.

Sigh. I just have to revisit Vicky and her friends. And if you're looking for a good read, try the books. I've listed them in order above.

And so now that I've babbled on yet again about these books, tell me...what are your comfort reads, and why?


Blogger Karen soliloquized...

I ordered Borrower of the Night two months ago, as well as the first book in the Peabody series. Neither book is high on my TBR pile, but your post has changed my mind. I'm tempted to order more Vicky Bliss books while Amazon still has the buy 4 get 1 free sale!

So I guess you prefer Vicky Bliss over Amelia Peabody? (I think I have the second name right.)

The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris is a comfort read for me.

Friday, August 04, 2006 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

I actually love the first Amelia Peabody, Crocodile on the Sandbank, which was written as a stand-alone book, incidentally. Later, because it did so well, Peters decided to write more in the series.

I love them (although I haven't read the later ones), but I definitely prefer Vicky Bliss (although Crocodile is one of the ones that I do re-read).

I hope you become a Vicky fan! I swear, I know lots of people read them, 'cause they're bestsellers, but I've not been able to find anyone to talk with them about!

And with Vicky, the books get better and better as the characters and their relationships develop.

So, definitely, move it up in your pile and let me know what you think!

As for Charlaine Harris--I just bought her first book in the Sookie series a month ago, and it's still in my TBR pile. I really hope to get to it soon!

Thanks for the suggestion.

Friday, August 04, 2006 4:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jana DeLeon soliloquized...

Okay, no laughing, but I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books as a comfort read. I think the escape to such a simplier time reminds me that people used to value simple things so much more than now. It seems to reground me when an entire scene can be devoted to the receipt of a peppermint stick and the joy it brought.

Friday, August 04, 2006 4:47:00 PM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

OMG, Jana, not laughing at all! I can understand that completely. I've been reading those books to my children and loving them for the very same reason.

If only my kids were as joyful over the receipt of an orange or peppermint stick!

Friday, August 04, 2006 5:43:00 PM  
Blogger Heather Harper soliloquized...

I love Sookie Stackhouse! And Betsy the Vampire Queen. And Anita Blake. And Rachel Morgan.

Can you guess what I like to read?

And for the WHY?

Because I'm twisted.

Friday, August 04, 2006 6:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jaye Wells soliloquized...

My confort books are all my old Judith McNaught and Johanna Lindsey novels. They were some of the first romances I read (at age 11!) and I still love them.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 1:06:00 AM  
Blogger Karen soliloquized...

There are only 5 books in the Vicky Bliss series, so I can buy the rest without feeling guilty!

Oh, isn't Sookie so sweet?! I love the world Charlaine Harris has created with her. I hope you like the first book, Colleen!

Little House on the Prairie is a comfort "watch" for me. So no laughing here either. I own the first six seasons on DVD.

By the way, Lauren's Eyes looks great. I'll check a couple local bookstores before I order it from Amazon. Thanks for the rec.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 7:40:00 AM  
Blogger Dana Pollard soliloquized...

My all time comfort read (and fav book) is WICKED by Susan Johnson. I fell in love with Beau St. Jules the moment he stepped onto the page...

Saturday, August 05, 2006 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous holli Bertram soliloquized...

I've been thinking about this one all day. For someone who reads as much as I do, you'd think a few titles would come quickly to mind. Like Jaye, I'd probably pick up an old Johanna Lindsey - or maybe one of the old Iris Johansen single titles like Dark Rider.
I think the first hard cover book I ever got was a Laura Ingalls Wilder - Those Happy Golden Years, or something like that. I watched Little House reruns every afternoon one fall when we had just moved to a new city. Cried at each and every one of them. Not sure if it was me or the heart-wrenching story-telling...

Saturday, August 05, 2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

I love this...I'm adding more books to my TBR pile based on your recommendations! Some of these books I've heard of, some I haven't, but now I have a list of places to look.

Holli, I love Iris Johanson's old historicals too. Glad you mentioned those.

And These Happy Golden Years was my fave Little House book, too.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Rosario soliloquized...

Well, like you, Elizabeth Peters's books are my comfort reads... maybe even my biggest comfort reads. I must have reread every single book (plus all the Barbara Michaels titles) at least 3 times each.

Another huge comfort author for me is JAK. Predictable, repetitive, say what you want, reading her books is like coming home. And, to a certain extent, same thing with Nora Roberts, though some of her more explicit romantic suspense titles aren't all that comfortable!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 10:33:00 AM  

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