Monday, December 3, 2007

Retreat to the 19th century

(I was going to tell you how crappy this morning has been so far, through no fault of my own, except for not getting up on time, but I decided to skip all that and write about this instead.)

Sometimes I hole up in my house for days on end. Maybe I'll walk the dogs, maybe I'll get the mail, but almost nothing else. This was one such weekend, with the exception of dinner and a movie on Saturday night. At home, I played with the tree, played with the computer, played with the dogs, but mostly I read and read and read. After finishing Anna Maxted's latest book (AM = better than most chicklit authors), I decided I needed some winter, holiday, feel-good reading.

Which for me means what I call comfort books. These are the books you return to again and again, when you're feeling bad or life is dreary or just to feel, well, comforted. Mine are almost all from the 19th century, including several Dickens novels (Bleak House, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby), two Charlotte Bronte novels (Villette, which in my 30s I thought explained me to a "T," and Jane Eyre), Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and, of course, Jane Austen. All of Jane Austen. And that's who I turned to this weekend. I have a decent hardcover edition containing all her published novels, in the order in which they were published, so I began with Sense and Sensibility. It never loses its charm for me and I was really transported by it on the especially dreary Sunday we had.

And I think this is the way I will get through my annual holiday blues. I hate to be obnoxious about the holidays, because I think it is a fault in myself and not very pleasant for others, but I really don't enjoy them. There's too much rushing around and lots of social obligations. I do like giving gifts, not to mention getting them. And my feeling about the holidays didn't improve when my mother died the week before Christmas, six years ago.

So I need to keep things as sane and stable as I can, and to that end I'll be kicking back with my favorite 19th century books, in another time and place altogether.


Keith said...

I would like to be able to write the kind of "comfort books" that you speak of. One may find comfort from writing as well as from reading. Sometimes one can find comfort by doing nothing but tapping in into the Void in one's aloneness and silence; the Void is more of an embrace than the zero that it appears to be. Thank you for the "comfort blogs" that you write.

Catherine said...

Keith, thank you for your nice comment. I really appreciate it.

I'm very interested in your idea that the void is more of an embrace than a zero.

And I definitely agree that writing can be comforting. Just putting my thoughts "out there" somehow makes me feel less alone.

Thanks again for writing.