Monday 18 April 2011

Escapism and Comfort Reading

Recently I’ve been terrible at actually getting round to writing reviews of all the many books I’ve been reading. I’ve just been having a lot of difficulty getting inspired, and I blame that mostly on the fact that I’m freaking out about having got a new job, which I start this week. I’m not the kind of person who deals with change particularly well, and so I’ve been super nervous about the whole thing, and been finding it really difficult to concentrate on anything. To try and forget about it all, I’ve retreated to the arms of an oooooold favourite: the Harry Potter series.

I’ve been trying to figure out for ages what it is about these books which makes them such a comfort read. Every time I start reading the first page of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I’m instantly calmer. To be honest, I find that fantasy in general is usually really good for escapism, and I reckon it’s just because the worlds are so far removed from my own that they allow me to absolutely step outside of reality and pretend I’m somewhere else for a while. All good literature does it to an extent, that’s the beauty of reading, but fantasy is on a different level. Along with Potter, my other favourite ‘crisis reads’ are David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also like this list.
I’m currently finishing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for approximately the four millionth time, about to move on to The Goblet of Fire, and I won’t stop until I finish the seventh book. I’m realising that I really do use reading like my own personal drug – I have certain books or authors who I know will put me in a certain mood, and I use them strategically. At a time in my life when everything else is changing, and I’m panicking like nothing else, it’s nice to know that old favourites won’t have changed. That there are books I can rely on to calm me down and reassure me about the state of the world.
What I’m really wondering is, does anyone else do this? Are there any books you return to time after time, relying on them to make you feel a certain way? Or is it just me?

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