During stressful times in my life, I find rereading some of my favorite classic novels soothing. After reading a ton of buzzy new releases or when I feel a reading slump coming on, picking up a classic is almost an instant remedy and often just what I need. I find so much comfort in revisiting familiar pages and returning to places I love. Plus, with every reread, I always discover something new!
These 15 comforting classics are personal favorites of mine, and they all have settings that are easy to get lost in. Amid all the uncertainty in the world, I hope you can get lost in one of these novels and find an escape from the present moment.
Emma by Jane Austen
Truthfully I find all the Austen novels comforting and my favorite editions that I own are the Canterbury Classics and the Penguin Clothbounds. But for this list, the Austen novel I’m recommending is Emma!
Emma, a matchmaker at heart, is obsessed with love and romance–for others. As for her own love life, she wants nothing of it. She even feels repulsed by the amorous declarations she receives. But as her matchmaking schemes go awry, and her friend Harriet shares her feelings toward a certain friend, Mr. Knightley, Emma soon becomes aware of her own heart’s longings.
This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur – and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of their own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig.
The Ramsays face, alone and together, the greatest of human challenges and its greatest triumph – the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, To the Lighthouse also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.
Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?
Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and genorosity are all the riches she truly needs?
Gaskell’s best-known work is set in a small rural town, inhabited largely by women. This is a community that runs on cooperation and gossip, at the very heart of which are the daughters of the former rector: Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her sister Miss Matty. But domestic peace is constantly threatened in the form of financial disaster, imagined burglaries, tragic accidents, and the reappearance of long-lost relatives.
At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?
Four women rent a chateau on a remote Italian island to try to come to grips with their lives and relationships. They explore the differences in their personalities, reassess their goals, and reexamine their relationships in a sisterly fashion. Newly designed and typeset for easy reading by Boomer Books.
Lose yourself in Alice’s story as she tumbles down the rabbit hole, swims through her own pool of tears, and finds herself in a rather curious place called Wonderland. There, she’ll encounter the frantic White Rabbit, have a frustrating conversation with an eccentric caterpillar, and play croquet with the hot-headed Queen of Hearts.
This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road.
With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster, and her own complex feelings, first for the school’s English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emmanuel.
From L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, comes another beloved classic and an unforgettable story of courage and romance. Will Valancy Stirling ever scape her strict family and find true love?
What do you think about the books on this list?
Have you read any books from this list? What are your favorite comforting classics? What books would you add to the list?