Friday, August 27, 2010

Comfort Reading

Recently I've had a few disasters with books or authors it turns out just aren't "my jam." And by that, I mean I've made use of the Nancy Pearl rule (where you subtract your age from 100 to determine how many pages you must read before you can give up) twice and had to just give up sans rule on a collection of stories where not-a-one was of interest. Nothing was "bad" or "poorly written." Just not my flavor of fiction.

At any rate, this left me in kind of a funk. I picked up and put down a few books from my "to read" stack(s) before finally coming across the one I would start. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! was, for me, the one that broke me out of this funk and fear. I picked it up, and upon reading the first paragraph of his little introduction, I was back in it. I was back in the beautiful words, sentences, paragraphs, and ultimately stories that Vonnegut was so capable of constructing.

As an aside, something I love about Vonnegut was the fact that he gave himself a report card for all of his works. If you haven't read this obituary or Palm Sunday, you may not know this, but it's true. Slapstick was one of only two works that received a D, and that's just an odd detail sticking in the back of my mind. Thus far, I'm enjoying it. I suppose Vonnegut's D work, in my processing core, still surpasses many well-reviewed efforts by others.

Getting back on track... Basically, I realized that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. will always be an author that I'll be fully capable of reading and there will always be something there for me to enjoy. Up to this point, and I'm through the bulk of his catalog, I've never once felt like I was just slogging my way through. This makes him my ultimate comfort read. His work is the safety net that will always keep me from falling into the abyss.

To those of you out here in the blogosphere: who do you find you will always be able to read? Who reminds you how truly wonderful reading can be when you're feeling like a rudderless boat on the high seas?

R.I.P. you kind, common decency-infused man.



  1. Griffin, thank you for this. I love Vonnegut and I love this post. He is also my reliable comfort reading. Isabel Allende is in that category for me, too. The Harry Potter series played this role for me as a young adult and just needed reminding that reading could be fun.

    (This is going to be the subject of my letter tonight. I hope that's OK.)

  2. Kurt Vonnegut is one for me as well, as is Harry Potter - always. I would also add Roald Dahl and E.M. Forster.

  3. I'm sad to say this, but there are very few authors whose books I can read more than one of. Some weird thing in my head makes me cling to my first experience of their writing and refuses to allow me to take in any more.

    That being said, the authors whose work I am able to read a breadth of impress me to no end: Isabel Allende, Edwidge Danticat, Sherman Alexie, John Green. Hopefully the list will keep expanding.


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