Hello reading friends
I’m currently on holiday but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can still publish my newsletter - yay! It gives me a lot of pleasure to write to you each fortnight, so I didn’t want to miss an issue.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you all had a joyous festive season and managed to sneak away and read some books and/or get some time to yourself.
This week I’ll be featuring some of my favourite comfort reads. Lately a few friends have told me (very apologetically) that they were reading mass market fiction because they were tired or on holiday (or both), and needed a break. It made me sad to think that people feel they have to apologise for reading books that give them comfort.
So here is a little reading manifesto, from my heart to yours.
It’s okay to read whatever you feel like reading. Never apologise for your reading choices.
Reading isn’t a competition. You don’t have to read the latest book just because everyone else is.
Remember that books are timeless and will wait for you to be ready. In the meantime, focus on what you need right now, be kind to yourself, and listen to your heart.
Many of you will be thinking ‘what a weirdo’ because you always read what you want to read, but others might be thinking ‘thank goodness, I can read my Jeffrey Deaver and not feel guilty’. Go for it!
Favourite comfort reads
I’m conscious that while my comfort reads might be a thrillers and romance novels, yours might be murder mysteries or something darker. I think the essence of a comfort read is that the genre is well established and maybe a bit predictable, so you know what you are getting. That means you don’t need to think too much or flex your intellectual muscles. Genres are designed to deliver certain tropes and that can be reassuring. Use your intuition and pick up the book you need right now.
Two of my favourites:
The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen.
William is a letter detective in the lost letters department. He spends his days reuniting letters with their intended recipients. One day he receives a letter addressed to ‘my dearest love’ and wonders if it was meant for him. His marriage is in trouble and he feels lost and alone. William needs to follow the clues (and his heart) to solve the mystery.
William risked a long look in the mirror. His curls looked tangled and his beard needed trimming. Something about his eyes made him nervous. They seemed, well, less brown. Like faded chocolate. It was probably just the fluorescent light bulbs. Eyes don’t fade do they? Was he vanishing? A man diluted?
The audiobook version is also a delightful listen. Highly recommended.
Another old favourite is Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quinlan. I have recommended this before, but I would happily read it again, just for the pleasure of it.
Once a famous photographer, Rebecca is forced to give up her New York apartment and move to the country in an effort to make ends meet.
A few minutes after two in the morning Rebecca Winter woke to the sound of a gunshot and sat up in bed. Well, to be completely accurate, she had no idea what time it was. When she had moved into the ramshackle cottage in a hollow halfway up the mountain, it had taken her two days to realise that there was a worrisome soft spot in the kitchen and a loose step out to the backyard, and not one electrical outlet in the entire bedroom. She stood, turning in a circle, her alarm clock in her hand trailing its useless tail of a cord, as though, like a magic spell, a few rotation and some muttered curses would lead to a place to plug it in. Like much of what constituted Rebecca’s life at the moment, the clock had been with her far past the time when it was current or useful.
It’s fair to say that I have a particular fondness for novels about women starting over in new places. The storyline isn’t new, but its really well done and very enjoyable.
What I’ve been listening to
I’ve discovered a new podcast called That’s Helpful with Edwina Stott. The show is all about self-improvement backed by science. Every episode gives you information aimed at shifting your perspective or empowering you to make better choices. For example, the latest episode is about why you should join a choir, even if the think you can’t sing.
I also listened to an episode about intuitive eating, the basis of which is being kind to yourself, rejecting messages about good and bad food and listening to your body. It struck me that intuitive eating is a lot like intuitive reading. There are no good and bad foods, just as there are no good and bad books.
I really enjoyed the episode. You can listen here.
What I’ve been eating
Over the past few weeks I’ve been eating anything I like and it’s been fun! I don’t believe in dieting, but I do love salads as well as cake, so that makes for a happy life. I made myself some excellent toasted muesli with a range of nuts and fruit and rustled up some condensed milk biscuits as a gift for my favourite little great nephew.
Well that’s all for this week. Stay well and happy and look after yourself. If you’re new here, why not subscribe?
The great nephew LOVED those biscuits (cookies for your US readers). I have only read Anna Quindlen's "One True Thing" which has stuck with me over many years and is even more relevant now with a number of people afflicted with life ending illness. I recommend Richard Osman's books for a delightful holiday read.
Love all your ideas and treats. Welcome to a new year of reading and eating!