Comfort books

I’ve been in an Anne Shirley mood lately. For my long bus rides, I usually bring some kind of self-improvement or career-y type book. But because I’ve been easing up on the “go-go-go” mentality of squeezing in self-improvement books (see previous post) I’ve been reverting back to more comforting reads.

Like the Anne Shirley books, which I’ve conveniently got copies of in my Kindle.

I was trying to explain the appeal to S over the weekend. (I don’t think I succeeded.) Besides me adoring the books since I was 10 and the characters being super familiar, everything about the series seems so quaint and wholesome.

I was only around 12 when I started reading these books. Re-reading them decades later feels different. While L. M. Montgomery wrote about sad things – like World War I or personal tragedies, I know that times were much harder then and I’m only getting a romanticised version of things. But still — it fascinates me about the things that people are concerned about. I was reading Rainbow Valley a few days ago and in it, one of the characters talks about how important it was to her that she made her own bread, and what a big deal it was for the community to select a suitable minister. Anne’s children played in Rainbow Valley, a hollow where they would catch and cook fish, share stories (and poetry, occasionally) and chew spruce gums.

Anne was always held up as a particularly wholesome character. While (in the first few books) she might’ve tried bleaching our her freckles or dyeing her hair or wanting puffed sleeves, all in all, she wasn’t particularly vain. The lack of materialism, vanity and pettiness is something I really like (and aspire to). And I’m grateful despite going through the usual everyday stresses of living in this day and age, I know that life is full of these positive, Anne-ish experiences of being simply alive, enjoying the company of loved ones and friends, making things with my own hands, traipsing through nature (though harder to get to compared to the 1800s!) and looking at life with a sense of wonder and curiosity.

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