Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comfort reading - to serve them all my days

Regular commenter KVD has been after me to resume my Greek odyssey. I will do so!

Have you heard the phrase comfort reading? I think that it's more common among women than men. Simply, it means books that strengthen the soul, that reassure when things are hard. 

I first came across R E Delderfield’s To Serve Them all My Days when I came back to Armidale.

I had been away if with regular visits for some fourteen years. Now I came back to stay at home again in my old room while I completed my PhD. I am very glad that I did because within three years both my parents had died.

My parents and I watched the BBC mini-series based on the book. I loved it so much that I then bought the book and have read it many times since.

For those who haven’t read the book, it is the story of David Powlett-Jones who comes from a shellshock ward in 1918 to teach at Bamfylde School, a fictional public school in North Devon in the south-west of England. Set against the backdrop of the changes taking place in England and beyond, the story follows the hero through from a junior master to school head, ending in the early days of the Second World War.

I suppose that I identified with the book in part because some aspects of the school were a little like my own, more because I found it found it positive and good.

Positive and good; such wishy washy words, yet they capture the essence. To my mind, there is just too much of the opposite around at present for my own comfort.

It’s not my all time favourite, but it does pass a key favourite list test. Each time I read, I actually stop at key paragraphs.

I have been thinking for a little while that I might take some of those paragraphs from this and my other comfort favourites and use them as the base for posts. You see, they provide a base for challenging some of our current automatic assumptions as to what is good and right.

I actually find that helpful. Maybe you would too.

7 comments:

Legal Eagle said...

I have a lot of comfort books - I was thinking of reading one yesterday. I even have a tragic comfort book, for when I feel like a good old-fashioned bawl!

Now I feel like I should read your comfort book!

Rummuser said...

My comfort reading is the Bhagwat Geetha.

Jim Belshaw said...

Comfort books are important, LE, although I like mine happy!

Ramana, you take comfort books to a different level. I haven't actually read the Bhagwat Geetha, although I know waht is is of course. There were some equivalents that I used to read, but I found them less satisfying as I grew older.

Neil said...

Comfort viewing is good too: that's why I have taken to Australia's Got Talent this year. (I hadn't before.) There's something uplifting about the talent, the vitality, the enthusiasm. Leaves me hopeful -- and entertained.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's a good point, Neil. I hadn't looked at the show in that context, but you are right of course. I do the same.

syeds said...

Google real time search helped me to find comfort zones.







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