Comfort Books and Hugo Reading: Spring Break 2014

Even though we are expecting snow here in Fitchburg tomorrow, this is officially Spring Break for me and the rest of Fitchburg State, which means time to catch up on my reading and writing, as well as grading and class prep for the second half of the spring semester.

Like most of you, my own To Be Read pile is so long that it will never be completed but I do have an upcoming deadline that will determine my priorities this week: the March 31st nomination deadline for the 2014 Hugo Awards.

And while the John W. Campbell award is “not a Hugo,” I’m starting my reading for the nomination period with the 2014 Campbell award anthology so that I can round out my ballot. I already know that I am nominating Lissa Price (her Starters/Enders series captivated me) and I can’t wait to discover other new genre authors as well.

I’ll also be working through the other works on my recommendation post from last month over the next few weeks, as well as those other fans have shared with me, but not all of my pleasure reading will be new.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “comfort books” lately, largely because one of my enduring favorites just recently became available as an ebook: A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I first read this romance novel, and its two sequels, when I was in seventh grade and they were the first books I read that were not aimed at my own age group. And they have stuck with me so much that I’m thrilled to have Woman of Substance with me now wherever I go.

And that reminded me of something I explained to my niece when I was unpacking my boxes this summer. There are several books that I have kept from when I was her age, I told her, and even though I don’t read these copies anymore, they remind me of my early years as a reader.

These are the books I showed her:

The Shelf of Honor: My Comfort Books

The Shelf of Honor: My Comfort Books

Included on this shelf of honor are my battered paperback copies of the Woman of Substance trilogy, two of the Little House books, several from YA-fantasy authors Lois Duncan and Robin McKinley, a novel about ballet dancers, and finally, the historical novel Summer of My German Soldier (which, by the way, is the only one of that set I was assigned to read for “English” class).

These are my comfort stories, the ones that cemented themselves into my consciousness and in many ways define my tastes for popular culture today. This makes me wonder, what are your comfort books?

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