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Friday, February 05, 2016

On Comfort Reading And Fairy Tales

I have trouble sleeping some nights. Like last night. I'm in bed early Saturday morning and haven't slept since before 5.00 am - well before.

The thing I do when I'm unable to sleep is to pull out something I've read and reread. It soothes and the fact that I know what's going to happen means that I don't get my brain buzzing when I want to get back to sleep.

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know some of my comfort reading choices. Tolkien. Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. Kerry Greenwood's mysteries. Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Josephine Tey's Daughter Of Time. Harry Potter. (And this morning I've been following Tor.com's HP reread. It's fun to read other people's thoughts on your own favourite books and enter the discussion)

This morning I've been reading some Andrew Lang Fairy Books, on my iPad compliments of Project Gutenberg.

I love fairy tales - I follow a few fairy tale blogs, which are always good value. As a writer of spec fic, I appreciate having the resources.

The Lang books, written in the Victorian era,  are a mishmash of everything from Grimm to D'Aulnoy, from Anderson to Greek myth(one story, while not mentioning names, is clearly a juvenile retelling of the story of Perseus). They come in different "colours". Many of the most familiar stories are in the Blue Fairy Book - Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, etc. The Brown Fairy Book focuses on international stories, quite a few outside Europe. The Pink Fairy Book has a lot of stories I've never encountered before.

Interestingly, Andrew Lang, though best known for his fairy tale books, wrote some fiction of his own, which I had on my iPad before it was wrecked and I had to download again. I'm still downloading books which didn't make it back in my initial download, as I realise that this or that book hasn't returned.  His own fiction, I vaguely recall, was crime fiction, or some of it was.

But he really comes into his own with the fairy tales - and I loved one of his introductions in which he explains why he doesn't call them folk tales, saying that he just can't see some small child asking his grandmother for "another folk tale, Grandmother".

They're a valuable treasury of world fairy tales and it's wonderful to have access to so much good stuff on Gutenberg, because I don't remember ever seeing any of these fairy books in the shops.

And a good, comforting thing to read late at night/early morning when you can't sleep.

Anybody got some favourite reading for sleepless nights?


2 comments:

Lexa Cain said...

I've found some great stuff on Project Gutenberg too. And reading always soothes me and puts me to sleep - even if I don't want it to and *must* finish an ARC for review. LOL I hope you sleep better this weekend. Meanwhile - enjoy re-reading your favorite books!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Lexa! And yes, I feel guilty for rereading when I have review copies awaiting me, but in the middle of the night I'm just not up to reading seriously for reviewing.