Comfort Reading

Last week I received a notice in my mailbox that on Friday – Remembrance Day – there would be work going on with our street’s sewer system, and between 8 and 4 we were all to drastically minimize our water usage. Our home sewer system could hold a small amount of drainage, but any extra use of water would result in our system backing up and sewage flooding our house. If there is a more effective way to discourage people from allowing waste water to go down the drain, I do not know what it is. Sewage flooding our house.

Two things: Does it seem strange to anyone else that major sewer work was scheduled on Remembrance Day? It seems kind of disrespectful, and also, kind of inconvenient being that the boys were home from school, and there was much panic from that corner, should someone in the house need to defecate. What to do! What to do! The boys came up with all kinds of solutions, including possibly walking over to the swimming pool and fitness centre specifically to use the washrooms. But, inconvenience and preteen panic aside, it seemed to me to be mostly disrespectful.

Secondly, in the manner of you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, I really didn’t realize how much of my daily tasks result in waste water going down the drain. No washing dishes, no laundry…well, I guess that’s mostly it. Oh, no rinsing vegetables and fruit either. Is that really what takes up the bulk of my day? In any case, I seemed to have a lot of time on my hands.

Slight digression: while Christmas shopping last week, I saw a number of signs advertising “Remembrance Day Sale! 25% off everything in store!” Which…what? Remembrance Day SALE? What’s next? Lest We Forget, Buy One Get One Half Off? We Remember And We Have Great Deals In Store?

Moving on.

I have been comfort-reading for the past week. Has it been only a week? Anyway, for the past week I’ve been reaching for those warm, fuzzy, feel-good books on my shelf. My usual go-to is Diary of a Provincial Lady, but I had read it recently, so I am devouring my childhood favourites Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. I have always loved Louisa May Alcott, and I probably have read those two, plus Little Women, fifty times each. LOVE.

I do admit to seeing them through very different eyes these days. If you have ever read anything about Alcott’s life, you will know that her father was very close with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and he eventually left his teaching career to study philosophy. By that I mean that he walked away from a paying job to ONLY study philosophy and, I suppose, “live deliberately,” which resulted in, of course, financial ruin for the family. Alcott’s writings managed to get the family out of debt, along with a roof over their heads and food on the table. Thanks, Father. Reading Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, which centre around a beautiful, kind, philanthropic heiress, is a little sad when you think about that.

But they are great books, even if one of the central themes in Rose in Bloom is which cousin will Rose marry? I mean, it’s not even a subtle underlying theme; it is discussed often and in great detail. Guys, they’re first cousins, maybe you want to look outside the gene pool, rather than focus on keeping her extensive property in the family? However, weirdly incestuous courtships aside, there are some really nice warm and fuzzy messages in there, which is why it is one of my comfort books. For example:

“Ah! But we do know, and if our silence and civility have no effect, we ought to try something else and not encourage wickedness of any kind…Each must judge for herself. I shall follow Aunt Jessie’s advice and try to keep my atmosphere as pure as I can, for she says every woman has her own little circle and in it can use her influence for good, if she will.”

Of course, this conversation was about shunning a certain young man who was “wild” and “fast” – meaning, I guess, that he drank and was a little too handsy with the ladies – but I think that it can be applied in a broader sense. We should all follow Aunt Jessie’s advice, except maybe about the part about getting it on with one of our cousins.


  1. I love Little Women and the series, but I’ve not read everything else she wrote. I comfort-read almost anything really; lots of Maeve Binchy and Erica James, but pretty much just anything that doesn’t require actual concentration.

  2. I don’t think I have any go-to comfort books. Maybe I should.

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