Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | July 1, 2014


A couple of days ago I was having lunch in a college cafeteria. The room was divided into different sections labeled, I assume, for efficiency. The salad bar was labeled ‘Healthy” and had a long list of the nutritional benefits of food such as spinach and quinoa. I didn’t see what they put up in the place where you could get big, juicy cheese steaks – perhaps ‘Greasy’. I did note that ‘Comfort’ was the label on the area where the macaroni and cheese resided.

Noodles and cheese? Definitely comforting. And who doesn’t occasionally need something that, as the Merriem-Webster Dictionary describes comfort, “1:  to give strength and hope to:  cheer  2:  to ease the grief or trouble of:  console”.  Comfort can be a pair of sweatpants, a big, soft shirt or a beloved book. I’ve just come out of two weeks that started with my contracting late-season flu and ended with our having to put to sleep our beloved 16-year old cat Muriel.

On Saturday afternoon, after we buried Muriel, I wandered around in a funk, unable to concentrate while I coughed. Finally I realized I needed some solace.

I needed a book.

If I had been by myself I would have curled up with an old favorite. Maybe one of Ellis Peters’ Cadfael mysteries or one of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. But there were tasks that I had to complete, such as feeding children, so I chose an audio book.

Patricia C. Wrede recently wrote a Frontier Magic trilogy:  The Thirteenth Child, Across The Great Barrier and The Far West. These have become firm favorites, especially the last. I loaded it from my Audiable account to my phone and whenever I was alone that afternoon and evening, I listened.

It was very comforting.

I’m still coughing, though not so much, and still sad about Muriel, the tiny black cat made, we were sure, from dust, moths and shadows. But listening to one of my favorite books definitely cheered me up.

I’d love to know what books, be they print or audio, others have on their comfort list.


  1. Nancy, first, I recognized your name from the rolls of the Nockamixon Sail Club. 🙂 I’m the membership secretary, but also a writer, editor, and teacher. I loved your post. Audio “reading” while feeding hungry kids; I hadn’t thought of that when my kids were small! I have to say my go-to comfort books are the ones I bonded with in college, including Wordsworth and Thoreau. I read mostly nonfiction, but am taking note of your comfort book recommendation by Wrede to pass along to others. Happy reading and Happy sailing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robin! Right now my younger child and I are listening to Norse Myths – it definitely makes toy clean up time easier (I turn the story off if he doesn’t help ;-).


  2. Hi, I’m Matt’s Mom. Loved your post. I like to curl up with Pride and Prejudice or anything Dickens. Enjoyed “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” in audio. I like to read lots of different things; including young adult. Sorry about Muriel. Audrey McGovern

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Audrey. Dickens and Austen are definitely favorites. I’ve read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” but never heard the audiobook version. I’ll have to check it out.


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