By: Abiola Regan
As we are all painfully aware, the news cycle is relentless. I oscillate between wanting to stay informed about what is going on in my world and the world around me and needing to tune out so as not to be stuck in a state of being overwhelmed. It's in those moments of catching myself locked in another doomscrolling rabbit hole that I become aware of a need to be more mindful of what I'm letting in. It is knowing that I need to comfort my anxious soul and quiet my frenzied mind by exerting less mental energy. In those moments, I turn to the steady reassurance of my comfort food books.
Throughout moments of uproar and chaos, there are books that I have turned to again and again for comfort and if I'm being honest, for stability. It's like wrapping myself in a security blanket of words because I know what's going to happen. There's safety in the predictability of knowing that I can count on the plot unspooling in the same way every time.
Comfort food books can also be about getting an emotional release that I know a certain book will provide me with during a time of need. That might explain why I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold so many times in my 20s. It's the safety of knowing what emotions will be evoked, as well as when and how I can deal with them when they arise.
As a young reader, I would read the same Archie comics and The Baby-Sitters Club books over and over. In my early teens, it was Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume. I outgrew that book but did not outgrow my need for Judy in my life so I moved onto her coming-of-age novel, Summer Sisters. The number of times I’ve read my comfort food books is staggering. Each one has a trail of memories attached to it of all the times that I've read them— where I was in my life, how reading them helped me through a moment of personal upheaval and made me feel less alone.
Now, as a woman, mother, and partner in my 30s striving to reach my potential and get comfortable with taking up space, it is forever First Lady Michelle Obama’s Becoming that I turn to when I need the embrace that only a comfort food book can provide.
The beauty of a comfort food book is that it can be forgotten as soon as I don't need it anymore. But I know that if a state of uproar returns, my comfort food books will be waiting for me right there on my bookshelf (or e-library) where I left them, with space for the next one to add to my collection. Sometimes, I find them by happy accident. Sometimes, they come from reading book lists. Sometimes, they come from intimate conversations with trusted friends. So I leave myself open to the possibilities of expanding my comfort food book collection, because the books I seek comfort from change as I myself grow and change. However, the constant that remains is that I will always turn to a comfort food book in uncertain times.
Abiola Regan primarily writes poetry and fiction. Her academic background in psychology and love of pop culture frequently work their way into her writing, whether she immediately realizes it or not. Abiola's writing has appeared in Dreamers Creative Writing, The Lumiere Review, CBC Life, The Capilano Review, and more. When she is not writing, Abiola can be found co-hosting the parenting podcast, Gaining Mom-entum.