One More Time by Andy Scheer
Sometimes people talk about comfort foods: simple, hearty dishes they associate with times of security. With a young granddaughter in the house, I remember when my own children would snuggle with a favorite blanket. Now my granddaughter is doing her best to wear out CD versions of the same “baby song” videos my children once watched on VHS. She comes by the habit honestly.
This past week I worked all-out on a big editorial project. Even with listening to upbeat “West Coast” traditional jazz by the Yerba Buena Stompers, by suppertime my brain was ready to switch off. The detailed biography I'd been enjoying (about William J. Donovan, who founded the precursor to the CIA), suddenly because too heavy, packed with too much information. .
Time for a comfort book: a story I knew I'd enjoy—simply because I'd already enjoyed it multiple times.
Edgar Award-winner Aaron Elkins met my need via an old-fashioned mass paperback novel called Little Tiny Teeth. A few years had passed since I'd last read it, so I'd forgotten which of the half-dozen well-motivated suspects introduced in the opening chapters would commit the murder. No matter, I knew I was in for an entertaining boat ride up the Amazon, spiced by an entertaining cast and directed by a writer skilled in presenting the flavor of exotic locations.
I liked it so much that when I had to do fifty minutes of grilling this afternoon, I reached for another of his paperbacks, Curses!, a mystery set at an archaeological dig in Mexico. This time I opened the book knowing full well who had committed the crime. But for me, the point is enjoying the journey—plus anticipating getting to all the places I've especially enjoyed each time I've read it before.
Earlier today I started re-reading Paul Theroux's Riding the Iron Rooster, his 1988 account of traveling by train to every corner of mainland China. I'd not read it for a decade, but this weekend I found a hardcover first edition at a thrift store. I knew that like other travel accounts (William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, Stephen Coonts's The Cannibal Queen, and John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley come to mind), it's prime for revisiting every so often.
With a 900-mile each way drive coming this October, and an even longer one scheduled for November, I've begun stocking up on audio books. This weekend I ripped three (by Elizabeth Peters, Grant Blackwood, and Jack du Brul) to my MP3 player, and I've just purchased three more on Ebay. No surprise, they're books I've already read. But the routes I'll be driving on both trips will be familiar, so why shouldn't the books?