Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.10: Comfort Books, Listen to the Nightingale, and Spooky Stories

This week we’re here to talk about — not Donna Tartt’s wonderful The Goldfinch, which we became too sick to finish, but instead about the comfort books we read while we were ill! (We’re sorry. We promise to review The Goldfinch next time.) We review one longtime comfort book for Gin Jenny (hopefully it will become a comfort book for Whiskey Jenny also in the future), Rumer Godden’s wonderful Listen to the Nightingale (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository), and as a nod to the existence of Halloween, we talk a little bit about scary stories we have enjoyed. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly here to take with you on the go.

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Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We will appreciate it very very much).

If you want to skip around, here are the contents of the podcast:

Starting at 1:07: We explain why we didn’t read The Goldfinch. It is for good reasons. We got terribly ill. Instead we read comfort books, a list of which I have included below because you should read all of these.

Gin Jenny’s Comfort Books

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer, is a particularly good example of a story in which the heroine puts everything into good order. Whiskey Jenny also wants you all to know about the Richard Armitage-read audiobooks of Georgette Heyer books that exist.

A Candle for St. Jude, by Rumer Godden

The Family Man, by Elinor Lipman (I’ve talked about it before here)

James Herriot’s books about being a vet in Yorkshire: the first one is All Creatures Great and Small, and this is on Whiskey Jenny’s list too

L. M. Montgomery’s books, pretty much all of them, but The Blue Castle is particularly underappreciated and great

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Tam Lin, Pamela Dean

Dorothy Sayer’s Strong Poison and Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night

Whiskey Jenny’s Comfort Books

Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

The Rose and the Ring, William Makepeace Thackeray

Anne of Green Gables series, L. M. Montgomery

An Old-Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett; but particularly, the recording of it by Claire Bloom

The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

James Herriot books again!

Watership Down, Richard Adams

Roald Dahl

Josephine Tey

The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope

Share your comfort book lists with us, please!

Starting at 18:05: We review Listen to the Nightingale. If you listen closely you may detect that it meant a lot to me for Whiskey Jenny to enjoy this book AND SHE DID BECAUSE OF COURSE.

Starting at 30:54: We talk about scary books! Neither of us is an enormous connoisseur of scary books, so we will accept your recommendations for scary books. Whiskey Jenny may not read them but I, Gin Jenny, will! As long as no serial killers!

Starting at 38:18: Listener mail! Listener Chris inquired how much of the end I typically read, so I explain.

Starting at 41:07: New segment will be about books we’re not reading for the podcast but are excited about, either because we are eagerly anticipating reading them, or because we are reading/have read them. We will have this in the future, and I am accepting proposals for what to call this segment. Nicholson Baker’s excellent The Anthologist (my review here) is getting a sequel, Traveling Sprinkler, and I am curious about it.

43:32: Closing remarks and outro

Credits
Photo credit: andreybl / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.
The above links to books we’ve discussed are affiliate links. If you click on them and then buy a book from that website, I get a very small amount of money. This in no way influences my reviews.

  • Comfort books: Anything by Eva Ibbotson!!!

    • Gin Jenny

      Oo, nice one! How did I miss her? She’s the order-out-of-disorder category for me.

  • I find Dean’s Tam Lin a curious sort of comfort book. The bits about her parents and her little college community grated on me a little, like the bits about school in A Wrinkle in Time.
    For comfort reading, I go to the Sherlock Holmes stories because all the details add up to something. Sometimes I like fairy tales, too, for the opposite effect–the gratuitous details.

    • Gin Jenny

      It’s a curious sort of comfort book to me too, as much as I love it.

      That’s really interesting about Sherlock Holmes and fairy tales! I still haven’t read any of the Holmes stories apart from Hound of the Baskervilles, but I really need to get on that.

  • The Blue Castle! Tam Lin! Gaudy Night! The Secret Garden! The Perilous Gard! The Grand Sophy! Oh goodness, these are all my favorites too. Tam Lin is my ultimate comfort book and I’m afraid I can no longer be objective about it at all. I PARTICULARLY love sweeping-in-and-putting-things-in-order books. That’s what I love most about Howl’s Moving Castle, for one. I am loving your podcasts, Jennys!

  • Aonghus Fallon

    My comfort reading consists mostly of short stories. Holmes is ever-reliable, but the ‘Father Brown’ stories by G.K. Chesterton are worth checking out as well.

  • Aww, I love Father Brown! And I loved this podcast, and am slightly glad that you put off the podcast on The Goldfinch, because I was much more in the mood for this one.

    One of my comfort books (for no reason that I can discern) is Barbara Michael’s Shattered Silk. It’s not her best book by a long shot, and yet…and yet. Perhaps it is the gratuitous details about vintage clothing that ease my mind and comfort me, Also, Marisa de los Santos’s two books Love Walked In and Belong To Me. And those are definitely in the “tidy up the big mess” category.

  • Aw, The Perilous Gard and the Sherlock Holmes stories as comfort reads!
    Others of my comfort books include the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and whichever Sandman books I have in my apartment (especially Brief Lives). When reading comfort books, I tend to read my very favorite part first, then branch out to my other favorite parts, often getting sucked into reading large chunks, but rarely reading the whole book–does anyone else do this?

  • I am an oddity, I know, but I really don’t have comfort books. Having said that AND having read Anne of Green Gables, I would think that could be a comfort book.

  • Poor you, I am so sorry you got sick! I send all possibly sympathy. And I had to tell you that if only I can overcome my toothache and my cold sufficiently, I’m booked to hear Donna Tartt talk about The Goldfinch on Thursday evening. Oh cross your fingers for me. As for comfort reads, mine are legion, but I like anything published by Persephone books, Georgette Heyer, Golden Age crime, Barbara Pym, Anne Tyler and Nicci French. Well and quite a lot of others but I thought that would probably do for now. 😉

    • Gin Jenny

      How lovely! I do cross my fingers for you! I heard her do a talk and a reading a few years ago in New Orleans, and she seemed very cool and strange, as you would expect. :p

  • Don’t worry, Whiskey Jenny! I totally agree with you that character lists are stressful things. Every time I see one I, too, feel like I’m being tested and that if I don’t memorize them before reading the book I’m going to fail forever. (Usually I just skip over them and pretending I didn’t see them.)

    My favorite comfort book is, of course, Charmed Life. DWJ 4EVA! But I also really like Ballet Shoes, and a new one is the Enchanted Forest series by Patricia C. Wrede. 😀