Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Simple Comfort of Books


The dolly and the thing that resembles a faceless Medusa are my seven year old daughter’s favorite things in this world. Yes, they’re the famous Dirty Baby and Blankie. I put them on a bookshelf to give them a more attractive backdrop for their…interesting…appearance. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but most of Dirty Baby’s stuffing is currently down in her legs. It makes her look as if she suffers from an unusual medical condition. And Blankie? I collected all the strands of Blankie together for the photo shoot. Now Blankie is disconnected again on my daughter’s bed.

I know age seven is a little old for loveys, but I figured we can all use some comfort in this world. Mine is reading a good mystery.

It’s funny how comforting a murder mystery can be. Why is murder relaxing? None of the characters in the books are finding the murders relaxing. They’re desperately trying to learn the killer’s identity before he murders again.

I think it’s the same reason I find scary movies relaxing. They’re cathartic. You have all this tension bunched up in this one book or movie. When it’s done it’s an ‘ahhhhh’ moment. Tension is immediately relieved! Unlike real life, where worries can roam wildly out of control and encompass the troubled economy, out-of-control boxwoods that must be hacked into submission, and an annoyingly drippy faucet.

My favorites to read and write are cozies. Here you’re introduced to a tranquil setting—that’s suddenly ravaged by terror! The bad guys are caught, justice prevails, and the town regains its idyllic status once again.

What’s your comforting escape from reality?


Stacy Post said...

Hi Elizabeth! For me, I like to escape into gritty crime novels and mysteries from time to time. (I especially love Dennis LeHane.) I think it's because the worlds are so different from my own safe corner, so it's truly an escape! Living vicariously through books, we get to see characters make bad choices and suffer the consequences. And figuring out who did it, half the fun?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Stacy, that's a good point. So when you visit those dangerous places and people in LeHane's books, you get the thrill of escape...and then the relief of returning to your own, safe, comfy house!

I love trying to figure out whodunnit, favorite part.


Alexis Grant said...

Oh my gosh, that blanket is really falling apart! I guess it's past the point where you could replace it with a new one without her noticing, huh??

G.M. Malliet said...

More information needed, please. Is she gnawing on the doll and blanket, day and night?

Even Linus' blanket was basically in one piece.

Too funny. Thanks for today's good start.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Only a murder/mystery writer would find scary movies "relaxing" - lol.

The Old Silly

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I can so relate to this: “…most of Dirty Baby’s stuffing is currently down in her legs…” Oh, yeah. Most of my stuffing has fallen, too. Since the blog is G-rated, I won’t be more specific, but, you can imagine. Ugh and double shudder. Maybe you better not imagine.

So, a comforting escape? Easy. Gotta be fly fishing. Nature, mountains, travel, cool running water, sunshine. It’s great. Uh, there is the small issue of spending hundreds, or in the aggregate, thousands of dollars on trying—but failing—to outsmart an animal with a pea-sized brain. Still, in some twisted way, having the trout win is not a surprise. It is, however, escape.

Best regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I wasn't even close in guessing the identity of the objects! I love to escape by reading any really good book - the genre doesn't matter.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Alexis, I tried to replace the darned thing, but she'd have nothing of it. I think this stuff is going to college with her in another 10 years.

G.M., I think it's more of a picking process. Linus would be appalled at the condition of the blankie.

Marvin--I'm thinking I'm a little warped.

Galen--fishing falls under the 'stressful' category for me. I'm so type-A, that I look at it as a personal failure when I don't catch fish. But most people find it a great escape, I know.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jane, you couldn't possibly be expected to guess the icky stuff in the picture! Believe me, they look radically different from how they started out.

I told my daughter that Dirty Baby and Blankie were going to be in my blog today, and she was SO PLEASED and proud! I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. :)


Helen Ginger said...

I won't even say what I thought those items were. I was definitely not even near the ball park.

I like to read suspense. Bad things happen, but in almost all cases, the good guys come out on top.

Straight From Hel

Karen Walker said...

Wouldn't even hazard a guess. Poor blankie. My escapes are: reading any good book, going to the movies, singing, and folkdancing.
I used to like scary movies, but now I get scared and the feelings stay with me. Ah well,

Katie Ganshert said...

Oh my goodness....a blanket?? Wow. :)

I like to escape into ANY book that pulls me in. That hooks me. Right now, that's Home another Way by Christa Parrish. The Harry Potter books really did that for me. I still reread them every now and then. :)

Jennie Bentley said...

My son's blankie looks just like your daughter's (and he's ten). He doesn't take it anywhere anymore, but it lives under his pillow, and at night, he puts it alongside his face. I've had to tie a knot in it to keep all the strands together, and - euww! - washing it is a thing of the past, since it'll fall apart if I try. Nasty, I know.

G.M. Malliet said...

Jennie - By now he's probably immune to any bacteria going. The shredded blankie could be a good thing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Helen--Good point about happy endings. I don't think I'd find the reading very relaxing if I thought the bad guys would still be on the loose.

Katie--I haven't read "Home Another Way." I'll check it out--thanks!

Karen--Wish I could sing and dance. I'm afraid I'm just a spectator for those things, but I do enjoy watching them.

Jennie--Oh...good idea with the knot! Don't know why I didn't think of that. I wonder if my daughter would let me mess with Blankie, though.

G.M.--Unless blankie still goes places. Which ours does, sometimes. Sigh. Don't even want to consider the germ element there.


Alan Orloff said...

Some advice: Don't ever take Dirty Baby and/or Blankie on a trip three thousand miles from home and accidentally leave them in the bedding where the hotel maid might throw them in with all the dirty laundry and you might have to beg the hotel employees to go down into the laundry dungeon and look for them or the three-thousand-mile car trip home would be absolute murder.

Just sayin'

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Alan, your story gives me chills. I may not sleep tonight, actually...

I did, somehow, overlook parts of Blankie and the entire entity of Dirty Baby when we visited family in Alabama a couple of summers ago. We went to the beach directly after our visit to AL, and the grandparents had to Fed X Dirty Baby and Blankie's various body parts to us at the beach.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Being an author I should be ashamed to say this, but my comfort escape is TV. I don't have to think and can doze off and not miss much. Can't do that with a good book.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sue Ann, I didn't think about the TV, but you're so right. I fall asleep during Jim Lehrer's NewsHour every evening....


Patricia Stoltey said...

It's books for me as well. Almost any kind of book (but especially mysteries and thrillers).

But I also have to admit movies and TV shows such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance are great escapes.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hi Patricia,

Now we only need more time to enjoy our favorite escapes, right? :) Ah, the writing life.


Terri Thayer said...

Elizabeth, at our quilting group we were talking about blankies. Several women talked about twenty-somethings coming to visit, with their blankies!

The smartest thing I heard was a quilter who made a miniature version of the quilt for her grandson so the quilt wouldn't get ruined.

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