Like wrapping up in your coziest blanket...
In front of a fire. With a mug of hot chocolate. And a good book.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Sometimes (okay lets be honest, a lot of times) I'm too tapped out, emotionally, mentally, whathaveyou, to delve into a new story. I find it difficult to immerse myself and then if I do, difficult to get some sleep as I devour chapter after chapter before bed. It's become a habit of mine to reread books I already know very well, I find it relaxing and yes, comforting, to revisit books like a chat with an old friend.
And so I find myself pulling up a book I've read dozens of times, like Twilight or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, instead of something new. I know my favorite parts, I know at what point the story starts to lose interest for me, and the comfort of knowing there will be no surprises on the coming pages helps me drift peacefully off to sleep.
Some I revisit more frequently than others, and some are farther between but all the more enjoyed because the story strikes with renewed force. One of these is Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.
I love this YA paranormal urban fantasy series. It has all the angst, trauma, action, love, hate, and mystery I could want. And yes, I know the main character is a total Mary Sue who, for as much as the author tries to give her 'flaws', is very Mary Poppins and 'practically perfect in every way.'
So I started rereading City of Bones last week, when I couldn't bring myself to read something new from my ever-growing collection of Bookbub bargains. And I know why I do it, and it makes perfect sense, but then I thought, what is it about these books that I like to revisit? Maybe, instead of feeling guilty about reading these books (AGAIN) I should write instead about why I find them compelling.
So here I am. The first thing that struck me about this series was that it was a different legend than the other fantasy series I'd read, but wove in elements I recognized. I know that the legend of part-angel humans wasn't completely Clare's invention, but it was new to me, and as such I found it exhilarating to read and discover. Also, it's written so well, with the backstory and legend so beautifully developed I want to believe it in every detail.
The characters are compelling to me, including the juxtaposition of the 'bad guy' being one of the 'good guys' and the 'good guys' seeming pretty darn bad, especially depending on which perspective you choose. I love that Clare exposes Clary to all the different perspectives and she wrestles with her understanding and eventually has to make her own mind about who is good and who is bad. In this series, like in real life, things aren't all black and white and its all the more realistic and believable for it.
The romance... the heartbreaking romance. From the first moment they meet, Jace is drawn as this magnetic, golden lion of a man, and Clary the awkward, freckled girl who has no clue about men. The ups and downs of their tragic (seeming) romance just makes you want to tear your heart out and use it as a book mark. The first kiss scene is one of my favorites for its visceral feeling and realism. Having read the series in its entirety I know what happens at the end. I also know about all the heartbreaking moments that occur between that first kiss and the end, which is why this isn't a series I revisit often.
I love the way Clare writes. True, she writes too many things are 'as soft as kittens/cats fur/paw/tail' but the way she describes things, through Clary's artists eyes, are so beautiful. I love the language she chooses, and how the lyrical quality reads like something special on every page.
So typically I just read the first book, City of Bones.
It has that magical first kiss scene that I love. I also typically quit before the end, and go on to something else. I know how much I dislike some of the books in the middle of the series. Don't get me wrong, they are all fantastically written, and the stories are wonderful. It's more that I hate watching the characters suffer through all the trials I know they are about to face, and I struggle reading through it all. This is a series that still, after all the times I've read it, can make me cry. Sometimes I'm just not up for that.
Currently I'm starting City of Glass, the third in the series. I'm not sure if I'll finish it or not. I may switch back to something easy or really dive in and read something new (like I know I should) soon. Either way, this is one of the series that inspires me, and always gives me the warm fuzzies to open up and read the first page.
Do you have any stories that are your comfort blanket to read? I'd love to know!