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text 2018-11-23 17:17
24 Festive Tasks: Door 8 - Penance Day, Task 1 (Comfort Reads)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
Poirot: The Complete Battles of Hastings, Vol. 1 - Agatha Christie
Poirot: The Complete Battles of Hastings, Vol. 2 - Agatha Christie
Gaudy Night - Dorothy L. Sayers
A Man Lay Dead / Enter a Murderer / The Nursing Home Murder (The Ngaio Marsh Collection) - Ngaio Marsh
The Clock Strikes Twelve - Patricia Wentworth
Envious Casca - Georgette Heyer
Margery Allingham Omnibus: Includes Sweet Danger, The Case of the Late Pig, The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
The Great Detectives - JULIAN SYMONS,TOM ADAMS
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards

It's probably no secret that my comfort reads are Golden Age mysteries -- I'm slowly making my way through the works of the members of the Detection Club, including the forgotten and recently republished ones, but most of all, I keep coming back to, again and again:

 

Arthur Conan Doyle / Sherlock Holmes: Still the grand master -- both the detective and his creator -- that no serious reader of mysteries can or should even try to side-step.  I've read, own, and have reread countless times all 4 novels and 56 short stories constituting the Sherlock Holmes canon, and am now making my way through some of the better-known /-reputed Holmes pastiches (only to find -- not exactly to my surprise -- that none of them can hold a candle to the original), as well as Conan Doyle's "non-Holmes" fiction.

 

And, of course --

 

The Golden Age Queens of Crime

Agatha Christie: Like Sherlock Holmes, part of my personal canon from very early on.  I've read and, in many cases, reread more than once and own (largely as part of a series of anniversary omnibus editions published by HarperCollins some 10 years ago) all of Agatha Christie's novels and short stories published under this name, as well as her autobiography, with only those of her books published under other names (e.g., the Mary Westmacott romances) left to read.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers: My mom turned me onto Sayers when I was in my teens, and I have never looked back.  I've read all of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels and short stories, volume 1 of her collected letters (which covers her correspondence from childhood to the end of her career as a mystery writer), and some of her non-Wimsey short stories and essays.  Gaudy Night and the two addresses jointly published under the title Are Women Human? are among my all-time favorite books; not least because they address women's position in society decades before feminism even became a mass movement to be reckoned with, and with a validity vastly transcending both Sayers's own lifetime and our own. -- Next steps: The remainder of Sayers's non-Wimsey stories and of her essays, as well as her plays.

 

Ngaio Marsh: A somewhat later entry into my personal canon, but definitely a fixture now.  I've read all of her Inspector Alleyn books and short stories and reread many of them.  Still on my TBR: her autobiography (which happily is contained in the last installments of the series of 3-book-each omnibus volumes I own).

 

Patricia Wentworth: Of the Golden Age Queens of Crime, the most recent entry into my personal canon.  I'd read two books by her a few years ago and liked one a lot, the other one considerably less, but Tigus expertly steered the resident mystery fans on Booklikes to all the best entries in the Miss Silver series, which I'm now very much looking forward to completing -- along with some of Wentworth's other fiction.

 

Georgette Heyer: I'm not a romance reader, so I doubt that I'll ever go anywhere near her Regency romances.  But I'm becoming more and more of a fan of her mysteries; if for no other reason than that nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did viciously bickering families as well as her.

 

Margery Allingham: I'm actually more of a fan of Albert Campion as portrayed by Peter Davison in the TV adaptations of some of Allingham's mysteries than of her Campion books as such, but I like at least some of those well enough to eventually want to complete the series -- God knows I've read enough of them at this point for the completist in me to have kicked in long ago.  I've also got Allingham's very first novel, Blackerchief Dick (non-Campion; historical fiction involving pirates) sitting on my audio TBR.

 

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review 2018-11-19 21:03
A Festive Re-read
Winter Solstice - Rosamunde Pilcher

I read this book nearly every year in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I have loved Rosamund Pilcher's sagas since I picked up The Shell Seekers at a Barnes and Noble somewhere around 20 years ago. I passed it onto my mother, who fell in love with her writing.

 

I don't know if Winter Solstice is my favorite Pilcher, but it is such a comfortable read for me that I can't give it less than 5 stars. I love all of the characters, and I love the theme of the book, which really acknowledges that sometimes your most important family is the family that you create. The relationship that grows between the lonely Lucy, whose self-centered parents are wrapped up too deeply into their own lives to give her the attention she deserves and Elfrida, her great-aunt, a former actress who never had children, but whose peripatetic life was endlessly fulfilling, is perfect. 

 

This is one of those books that I can't see clearly, because it has become a part of my bookish DNA. I've read it probably dozens of times, and each time I pick it up, it's like saying hello to a group of old friends that I've not seen for a while. The best kind of comfort read.

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text 2018-10-06 11:59
Reading progress update: I've listened to 492 out of 492 minutes.
The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery - Agatha Christie,Richard E. Grant

Finished last night.

 

To the resident Christie (and Miss Marple) fans: Do you recall Christie saying anywhere that Colonel Melchett is a Scot?  Because that's the accent that Richard E. Grant gives him.  I totally wouldn't rule out that he's got a point -- he picked up on Christie's characterization of Lawrence Redding as Irish, too, and that's easy enough to miss as it is -- but if he's right about Melchett, then boy do I have to reread all of the Miss Marple mysteries that are actually set in St. Mary Mead to see what I've been missing about Melchett.

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text 2018-10-03 22:34
Reading progress update: I've listened 70 out of 492 minutes.
The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery - Agatha Christie,Richard E. Grant

Much-needed comfort listening.  And Richard E. Grant is doing a very nice job, too.

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review 2016-12-13 22:29
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the First: The Winter Wonderland; and Task the Seventh: The Christmas
Dylan Thomas Reads a Child's Christmas in Wales and Five Poems/Cd - Dylan Thomas
The Nightingale Before Christmas (Meg Langslow Mysteries) - Donna Andrews

Task the First:
– Read a book that is set in a snowy place.

 

Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales

 

Thomas's lyrical memoirs of his childhood Christmas experience, read by himself ... truly magical.  One of the books (or CDs) that I revisit every single holiday season.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Task the Seventh:
– Read a book set during the Christmas holiday season. 

 

Donna Andrews: The Nightingale Before Christmas

 

The year before last's entry in Donna Andrews's Meg Lanslow series: An uninhabited  Caerphilly house has been turned into a show house for the local interior designers' pre-Christmas competition, which Meg has agreed to organize (her own mother being one of the contestants, and Meg's involvement as an organizer having been the price for their own house not to be used as the scene of competition) -- as a result of which Meg is having to constantly mediate between the contestants, who keep going at each others' throats hammer and tongs and are, as a whole, more unruly than a bag of wriggling kittens.  It doesn't particularly help, either, that there's a student hanging around the place doing research for an article on the competition that she's writing for the local university newspaper, that moreover, packages containing the contestants' orders of items needed in their decorative arrangements keep disappearing, and that at last someone even takes to vandalizing the house and some of the half-arranged rooms, with merely a few days to go to Christmas (and to the advent of the judges).  When the most unpopular of the contestants -- whom the others also hold responsible for the disappearance of their packages and for the vandalization of their rooms -- is found murdered, there doesn't seem a shortage of suspects ... except that every single one of the other designers seems to have a credible alibi.

 

A more than solid, tremendously enjoyable entry in the series ... having read Duck the Halls just before Christmas last year, I'm seriously tempted to hunt down all of Andrews's holiday books and read them, one at a time, before Christmas each year!  She truly has a knack for combining a hilarious storyline with fully-rounded characters (however unusual), a homely and comfortably-feeling small-town setting and a lot of warmth, humor, and common sense.  Highly recommended!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Task the Seventh:
– Grab your camera and set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat. Post it for everyone to enjoy!

 

Well, the cat preferred to watch the setup from atop the half-empty box of Christmas decorations instead of being part of the picture, but anyway ... here we go!  (And yes, that's a real candle again. :) )

 


 

 

 

 

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