Literary Comfort Food
Though as a librarian I'm constantly reading new books and other materials, I, like most people, have those books to which I turn time and again. I know exactly how they're going to end, I know most of the plot details, and I feel I have a close, personal connection with the protagonists. Some of these I have read to the point that the cover has torn away, but I keep them anyway. Why? Because I love them dearly.
Most of my favorite novels are science fiction or cyberpunk. Probably my favorite of all these books is Accelerando by Charles Stross, in which the transition of mankind from biological lifeform to almost purely informational and back again is deeply influenced by three generations of the same family across several centuries. Its follow-up, Glasshouse, is set in the same universe, but rather than focusing on the future of humanity, this book sets its main characters in a far-future simulation of what twentieth century life was like; its extrapolation of modern life as viewed by our long-removed descendents is endlessly fascinating.
Neal Stephenson is another of my favorite such authors, with the inimitable Snow Crash, which, back in the early ninties, did a good job predicting a great deal of what the Internet would look like today, especially in the form of massively multiplayer realities (think Second Life or World of Warcraft). Then there's my beloved Diamond Age, a book about a girl born in the slums of a world in which literacy as we know it is all but dead and who, ultimately, is raised by a computerized primer which changes her life in ways she could never have expected.
I'm not all about science fiction, however. I love a good hard-boiled mystery and no one delivers that quite like Robert B. Parker and his ever-complicated hero, Spencer. Early Autumn is by far my favorite of his, in which Spencer is hired to protect a local woman's son from his corrupt father and ends with Spencer all but adopting the child to protect him from both parents. Looking for Rachel Wallace finds Spencer protecting a feminist equal-rights activist who is kidnapped when Spencer, unable to reconcile his own values and beliefs with his client's, is subsequently fired; it is a book that will challenge your conception of what it means to truly believe in a cause and how far you'll go to defend it.
Oh, but how could I forget the delightfully twisted Christopher Moore, with his new book Fool, a retelling of King Lear from the point of view of the court jester. And just in time for the holidays, don't forget about The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, the only book you're likely to find that combines a zombie Santa, a talking fruit bat, a perpetually intoxicated town constable and his schizophric, ex-b movie actress, sword-wielding, warrior babe wife and a really, REALLY stupid angel.
These are just a small number of my favorite books and authors, books that have entertained me and sustained me through the years. Chances are, they're not your cup of tea, but I'm sure you've got a few titles of your own springing to mind. So, though you may be hoping to read the latest Dan Brown or Stephen King, why not pull out an old favorite or two, blow off the dust, and settle in for the winter? Maybe take a look at our book lists if you're having trouble remembing what you've read. Nothing soothes and makes you feel at home quite like an adored book.