FEEL GOOD BOOKS
Nothing makes you feel better than reading a great novel; it’s a completely escapist activity that can take us absolutely anywhere. Re-reading books we love is a wonderful exercise and provides a lot of comfort. Instead of searching for a new book to become absorbed in, re-read a faithful standby.
“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.” –Benjamin Franklin
Feel good books
Curling up with a good book is one of our favorite pastimes and is especially enjoyable in the fall, with a blanket and cup of coffee. A book doesn’t have to deal with light fare or even comedy to make the reader feel good; favorites that we read over and over can be any genre and have plots that veer off in just about any direction. Whether it’s the memorable characters or perfectly crafted settings, our favorite books inevitably engross us and enrich our lives.
Revisiting favorites you’ve read several times
Reading books you love more than once is actually a highly recommended activity. You’ll notice and pick up on things you missed the first time. Characters in beloved books are almost like good friends we can visit whenever we wish, and, as we age and gather experience, we respond to works of art in different ways.
Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” (1856) is one of the most recommended books of all time (and by one of our favorite authors, no less, which include Hemingway, Bret Easton Ellis, Mary Gaitskill, Harry Crews, and Philip Roth). (To learn more about Flaubert, check out one of our past blog posts.)
Pulp fiction, hardboiled noir (think Elmore Leonard paperbacks with wonderfully trashy cover art) complete with femme fatales, crime to spare, and danger lurking at every turn are great fun. A book doesn’t have to be considered classic fiction to be enjoyable.
Philosophical books are always enlightening, even if you’re not looking for any self-help. Insight into the human condition is always of interest. We recommend books such as Carl Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” (1961), Jiddu Krishnamurti’s “Freedom from the Known” (1969), and the classic Hindu scripture (translated from Sanskrit), “the Bhagavad Gita” (written around 200 BCE).
Books you read in high school
Revisit what was once required reading. You may not have appreciated them at the time, but, as an adult, books that were assigned in high school and junior high will probably have you thinking differently. Classics like William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies” or, even better, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” will evoke nostalgia!
Take a trip down memory lane with “Winnie the Pooh” and friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, or go through the looking glass or down a rabbit hole with Alice and the Mad Hatter. Other nostalgic picks include “Charlotte’s Web,” “Pippi Longstocking,” anything by Roald Dahl or C.S. Lewis, and “Anne of Green Gables.” (To learn more about Winnie the Pooh and A.A. Milne, check out our blog!)
- Maya Angelou on Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”: “When I read Alcott, I knew that these girls she was talking about were all white but they were nice girls and I understood them. I felt like I was almost there with them in their living room and their kitchen.”
- Judy Blume on the classic children’s favorite by Ludwig Bemelmans, “Madeline”: “I loved it so much I hid it so my mother would not be able to return it to the library. I thought it was the only copy in the world. To this day I feel guilty. It was the first book I bought for my daughter’s library when she was born.”
- Other highly recommended novels: “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy (one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorites), Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” (favored by Lorrie Moore and Erica Jong), and “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov (a favorite of Tom Stoppard and Michael Chabon).
The wonderful thing about these books is that we can share them when we have our own children. Building a library for any child is so important, and, of course, one cannot ever overestimate the importance and influence of public libraries!
(The painting shown above is “A Young Girl Reading” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.)
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