Green Day have already woken up and it’s finally October here! It’s a month that encompasses fall and festivities. People are busy making holiday plans, huge sales welcome you in every shopping site, while westerners don on a brown and orange Instagram theme with maple leaf aesthetics, birches and pumpkin faces, India wears a jubilant red swaying to garba in the west and dhunuchi naach in the east.
It’s a month of taking a break. Nature takes a break from the greens while humans take a break from the blues. So if you are looking for a place of repose, why don’t you settle in with your comfiest pyjamas under a warm blanket and read these 5 comfort books?
New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver
First grab a hot cup of morning tea, open your windows, let soft music lull the air in the background and then sit down to read this beautiful poetry collection. Mary Oliver’s words and their camaraderie with nature feels like a walk through the woods, where your sore nakedness mingles with the tender calmness of nature. Oliver’s ruminations stir a heavenly recipe of nature with existentialism, spirituality and human conundrums. Along with some of her famous works like Wild Geese and The Summer Day from her previous collections, this book includes thirty new poems with titles ranging from Peonies to Whelks, from Poppies to The Egret.
Here are some of her famous lines from the poem, When Death Comes:
“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”
Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan
Malgudi Days by one of India’s most celebrated authors, R.K. Narayan is a collection of thirty two short stories based in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. The book has a beautiful introduction from Jhumpa Lahiri, another famous Indian diasporic writer.
The main attraction of these stories are the characters. The plots are engaging, with varying endings, but it’s the portrait of an Indian village through commonplace characters coupled with enriched human emotions is what makes it such a delightful read. Some of my favourite stories from the collection are An Astrologer’s Day, The Missing Mail, The Doctor’s Word, The Blind Dog, Iswaran and Forty Five a Month.
This book takes you back to simpler times, and if you are looking for a lazy afternoon indulgence devoid of heavy thoughts, go for this one.
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
This book comes from the writer of the much loved Anne of Green Gables series. Our protagonist is a twenty-nine years old, unmarried lady, Valency who decides to rebel against her oppressive family and turn around her life once she learns she doesn’t have much time left owing to a fatal heart condition. Montgomery infuses wit, social commentary and romance in the novel along with themes of depression and seizing one’s life.
In The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery Volume III: 1921-1929, she writes “I have enjoyed writing it very much. It seemed a refuge from the cares and worries of my real world.”
The novel’s message of hope and healing along with delicate descriptions of nature and fairy-tale elements makes it a perfect evening getaway by your fireplace as said by one of the characters in the book:
“Warm fire—books—comfort—safety from storm—our cats on the rug. Moonlight,” said Barney, “would you be any happier now if you had a million dollars?”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
A perfect comfort read for your midnight musings, this epistolary and coming of age novel by Stephen Chbosky has gained a cult following since it was published for the first time in 1999.
It follows the journey of Charlie, a bit of an oddball and a shy school kid who is trying to navigate through the adolescence roller coaster, while dealing with unaddressed trauma. Though the novel deals with some mature topics, Chbosky’s raw yet sensitive handling of the issues through the eyes of a fifteen years old child brings the bittersweet nostalgia of our own troubled teenage summers.
It’s a story of loss, love and hope. It’s about founding people who will accept you the way you are, with whom you can experience moments where one would feel infinite.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Maybe magic is real because these seven books have never failed to enchant me. Though I never got my letter at eleven, Hogwarts has always been there to welcome me with a warm hug. Like Hermione’s Time Turner, the books make you wander through the Great Hall, the classrooms, the Common Rooms, Quidditch ground and Hagrid’s Hut again. Flying on a broomstick or on a hippogriff or a weekend trip to Hogsmeade will never not be a perfect escape from the muggle world.
Rowling’s magical world of friendship, bravery, loss and love is spellbinding. The characters are flawed which make them so relatable, and the story develops brilliantly as we progress from Sorcerer’s Stone towards the Deathly Hallows.
Most of us have grown alongside the characters, going back to them is like finding your old friends again and when one of them asks “after all this time?”, an “always” echoes somewhere. Hogwarts will always be home.