Hobbit Day is on September 22, and in honor of our favorite Tolkien creations, we’re sharing a list of comfort reads! In the pantheon of Middle Earth, no one understands the comforts of simple living like the hobbits. Nestled in their snug hobbit holes in the Shire, these diminutive folk eschew adventures (most of the time) for gardening, eating, drinking, gossiping, and sharing stories. What are some of your favorite books to curl up with in your cozy nooks, dens, and hobbit holes? Here are some staff favorites:
By Helen Macdonald
I grabbed a copy of this book at a hostel-slash-bookstore (fantastic, I know!) in Yorkshire, England, while I was studying abroad. I was completely swept up in both the landscape around me and the author’s experience with grief. This was all quite dramatic and picturesque, but it remains one of the best books I’ve ever read. Usually novels are more my speed, but this work of narrative nonfiction really took me by surprise. It healed me in a way I didn’t know I needed. Super comforting. I’ve read H is For Hawk about 3 times since. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s a fabulous quote:
“’Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all affliction,’ wrote John Muir. ‘Earth hath no sorrows that earth cannot heal.’ Now I knew this for what it was: a beguiling but dangerous lie. I was furious with myself and my own conscious certainty that this was the cure I needed. Hands are for other humans to hold. They should not be reserved exclusively as perches for hawks. And the wild is not a panacea for the human soul; too much in the air can corrode it to nothing.”
Highly recommended for when you need to get in touch with your emotions. Plus, it’s a great one for bird lovers!
Review by Chelsea M. (General Reference)
By J. R. R. Tolkien
To go along with our theme, my comfort read is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s sustained me through four different stressful hospital stays of my husband’s, the despair after the 2016 election, and, most recently, the war in Ukraine. There is something comforting in returning to a story that’s full of strife and turmoil, but knowing at least some of the characters survive. And I am always fascinated by the ways the characters change, especially Frodo. It reminds me that difficult times DO change us and it is OK to change rather than resisting it.
Review by Amy S. (Programming and Outreach)
By Julie Abe
A newer book that I found so comforting is Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe. It’s a middle-grade novel about a young witch trying to earn her next rank by helping out in the seaside town of Auteri. As she does, she forms heartwarming friendships with neighbors from all walks of life. I really enjoyed that Eva goes through the entire book with only low amounts of magic, and while her skills do improve a bit, she mostly finds solutions through realistic, creative ideas with just a hint of magic to push them along. It made me feel like even if I’m not outrageously good at something, I can still put in an effort and make a difference. The mood is very reminiscent of Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Review by Molly C. (Children’s)
By Ray Bradbury
One of my favorite cozy reads is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It’s a nostalgic, lyrical description of childhood summer in a small town spent running through the grass, exploring ravines, and going to the ice cream parlor—with a little bit of growing up in there, too. Whenever I want to relive the idyllic summers of my youth, this is the book I turn to.
Review by Austin M. (General Reference)
My comfort reads are cozy mysteries. We have tons! But two of my favorites are Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan and Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass. These books are cheesy, but that’s the whole point. One is about a young woman in Portland trying to get her coffee shop business going while the latter features an eccentric librarian premiering her town’s first mobile library. Both have a strong sense of community, where neighbors, patrons, customers, and friends provide the backdrop of a collective effort to do the right thing and solve local murders. They remind me of PBS Kids’ Arthur because of their small-town atmosphere. The witty banter and cute animal sidekicks that accompany these characters only enhance their charm as you embark on the mystery with them. Whenever I need a palette cleanser from my usual horror or memetic reads, cozy mysteries are where I go to recharge my hope in humanity.
Review by Ivan O. (General Reference)
By J. K. Rowling
I read the Harry Potter series almost every year. I read Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time when I was about ten years old and I absolutely fell in love with Harry’s magical world. I grew up alongside the characters and always felt like Harry, Ron, and Hermione were my best friends. I anxiously awaited each new book in the series and feverishly read through each one, feeling myself grow and change alongside the three heroes. This series has supported me through the most difficult times of my life. Each time I read it, I feel a strong connection to my younger self, the part of me that is still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.
Review by Meg FP. (Programming and Outreach)
By Lilian Jackson Braun
I regularly turn to the first two books in The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun—The Cat Who Could Read Backwards and The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern. And it has to be the books on CD read by the amazing George Guidall. This immediately takes me back to the first time I listened to them and how my life was back then, being a young mother with young children. We all enjoyed listening to these together and definitely yowled like those iconic Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum! It’s like my own time machine, plus the stories are so good and full of humor! Some of my now adult children also regularly re-visit this fun series!
Review by Nathalie S. (Circulation)
By Arthur Conan Doyle
I started reading these novels and short stories when I was a teenager. While in college, I purchased a two-volume set containing the complete canon. Although the dust jackets are rather worn, the books have held up nicely and I still enjoy them. I like watching Holmes solve the mysteries presented in the stories and escaping to another place and time.
Review by Art N. (General Reference)
By Patrick O’Brian
My comfort read has been the Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian. The novels have a lot of dry British wit, overly-detailed explanations of ship’s rigging, and no matter what trouble Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin have found themselves in, at some point in each novel they’ll be out in the open sea, staring across the endless waves, ruminating silently on their unspoken desires and fears. What more could you want? *Chef’s kiss of perfection*
Review by Anthony M. (Library Administration)
By James Herriot
It’s hard to pick only one comfort read, but the All Creatures Great and Small books by James Herriot stand out as a tried-and-true series that I’ve enjoyed and turn to for comfort as a child, a young adult, and now as a mom of four. My grandma also loves these books, so I think it’s safe to say they appeal to all ages! Who wouldn’t love to cozy up on the couch and travel to the Yorkshire Dales with James, a bright young veterinarian who knows his way around animals but has a lot to learn about the colorful, entertaining characters of the country who care for them. This is such a sweet and heartwarming series but full of humor, animal antics, and even a little romance. The recent Masterpiece TV series All Creatures Great and Small is equally charming and well worth watching for animal lovers and comfort-seeking folk.
Review by Ruth C. (Programming and Outreach)
By Jane Austen
I became a Jane Austen fan in my 30s. I have read all of her books, but the favorite I return to time and time again is Pride and Prejudice. I love the wit, the satire, the romance and of course the beloved characters. From Darcy and Elizabeth to Mr. Collins to Lady Catherine de Bourgh to George Wickham to Caroline Bingley . . . I love them all! Now I am sure we can debate which screen adaptation is the best, but my favorite by far is the 1995 A&E production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. My favorite scene from this version is the piano scene. You can view it here from the minute mark 5:09–5:30. I am not much of a swooner, but if I were, this scene is definitely swoonworthy . . . enjoy!
Review by Tammy S. (Acquisitions)
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
My comfort read is The Great Gatsby. I absolutely fell in love with the story from the very beginning. Even though it is a 100-year-old basic classic, I love the way it makes me feel. The characters are all so real and the way the story is told is just incredible. The first time I read it, I was going through a hard time in school, but the words on each page helped me escape for a little bit each day. One of my favorite things to do is to look back on the small annotations that I wrote on each page and remember my thoughts and feelings at that very moment.
Review by Jordyn J. (Programming and Outreach)
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
My comfort read is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It is a delightful book about the German occupation of Guernsey, a small island in between England and France. It is an epistolary novel, which I find very cozy. The heroine is kind, intelligent, and deeply caring, so any reader will definitely fall in love with her immediately. All the characters are so fun and unique. I feel like if I went to Guernsey, they would all be there! I read it time and time again, and it never gets old. I highly, highly recommend!
Review by Whitney K. (Circulation)