Whether it is Bridget Jones’s Diary or the Brontës, we need comfort reading right now - Yvette Huddleston

Well, it’s certainly tempting in these days of global pandemic, post-Brexit fallout, attempted violent coups in the United States and all, to consider a period of extended hibernation.

Former Wakefield Girl's High School pupil author Helen Fielding at the opening of the Fielding Suite at the school. (Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Former Wakefield Girl's High School pupil author Helen Fielding at the opening of the Fielding Suite at the school. (Jonathan Gawthorpe).

To be honest, it seems like a pretty good option at the moment.

However, I do have an alternative idea to help us all get through these difficult winter months and the challenges that lie ahead – I’m calling it ‘comfort reading’.

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Reading books has been helpful for lots of people all the way through the first and second national coronavirus lockdowns (and all the Tier-related madness in between) with many tackling weighty classics – huge tomes such as War and Peace, Bleak House and A Suitable Boy – that they hadn’t managed to get round to before, but in this third lockdown my feeling is that we need less high-octane literary workout and more cuddly familiarity.

I’m thinking less Anna Karenina and more Bridget Jones. What we are looking for here is that special ‘warm hug’ you get from the re-reading of a book you have loved and read before. It’s the literary equivalent of meeting up with an old friend.

This year, unbelievably, is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary which would definitely be on my list of all-time great ‘comfort reads’.

Last March I was lucky enough to host an in conversation event with Bridget Jones’ creator Helen Fielding at Leeds Litfest and it was the perfect excuse for me to re-read one of my favourite books of the past few decades.

It is funny, moving, astutely observed, has lost none of its quirky charm and is now speaking to a whole new generation of young women.

Other books I turn to for solace include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights – neither are, admittedly, cosy or lighthearted in their subject matter, but that’s not the point.

It’s the engagement with the brilliant storytelling and the sense of security that comes with knowing what is going to happen next that makes them the very best comfort reads.

Recently I’ve also found myself reaching for childhood favourites such as The Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson. I highly recommend losing yourself in the comforting world and philosophy of these kind and gentle imaginary creatures, beautifully realised in Jansson’s stunning illustrations.

At the earliest opportunity I’m off to toast some crumpets and snuggle up for a girls’ night in with Bridget, the Snork Maiden, Scout and Nelly Dean.

I encourage you to seek out your own literary old friends and enjoy their company. Happy reading.