Comfort Books (Preferably with a Cup of Tea & Cookies)

Tea (2)I look forward to summer as a time to take it easy, but it never seems to work out that way. My job often intensifies during June, and the swimming program at my kids’ camp translates to five towels and five bathing suits to add to the wash each day. That’s a lot of laundry, even when you’re trying to be as “green” as possible about it.

So, apart from bedtime stories with my children, my reading time is limited. In the moments I do have for books without illustrations, I crave old favorites or light reads, and, for me, Debora Geary’s Modern Witch series happens to be both.

I read the first four books in the series last year, and then picked it back up again last week to read books five through seven:  A Different Witch, A Celtic Witch, and A Lost Witch. The first three books in the series–A Modern Witch, A Hidden Witch, and A Reckless Witch–are my favorite ones, but I have enjoyed seeing what my fictional friends are up to in the remainder of the series. This light series is comfort reading at its best, particularly when accompanied by a cup of Lady Londonderry tea.

The books feature a close knit community of witches based in California and in Nova Scotia.  These witches look and act just like the rest of us, except magical powers pulse through their veins (bestowing upon them the ability to  consume an endless supply of cookies without gaining a pound). Some have healing earth powers, others have the ability to read minds and amplify thoughts or powers that relate to fire, water, or air (or all of the above). There are no villains to fuel the conflicts in these books; rather, the plots focus on personal growth and helping others in need, sometimes averting larger crises in the process.

Each book in the series builds upon the last, with the Irish-American Sullivan family at the heart of the community. Over seven books, and a spin-off series, I’ve gotten to know this family and their friends, and I identify with many aspects of their lives, including their caffeine addictions and their parenting challenges.  As Nell Walker, nee Sullivan, remarks, “Caffeine is the patron saint of parents.” Indeed. I also identify with their Irish heritage, which, in this series, all witches share at least “a little bit.”

Among the witches, there isn’t much ethnic diversity, but I appreciate Geary’s seamless inclusion of other forms of diversity, such as the loving same-sex couples who belong as much as everyone else and whose relationships aren’t spectacles/plot devices. This is a caring group of witches that embraces individuals of many backgrounds, whether a lonely child aging out of the foster care system or a grown woman with a condition on the Autism spectrum, individuals who benefit from this community’s magical talents and large hearts.

Magic aside, these witches rely most on love, caffeine, and snickerdoodles to resolve conflicts, making them an ideal fictional community to help me relax and recharge after a couple of very stressful weeks.  I feel much better after finishing these entertaining books, a cup of tea, and, if I happen to have any in the house, a couple of cookies.

What are your comfort books?


  1. Awesome! I’ve been looking for recommendations on some new books to read but that are easily read as I’m not quite in the mood for heavy-content books. Thanks for sharing it!!

    1. I hope you enjoy it! The books have their flaws (a few inconsistencies, it’s hard to keep track of some of the characters, etc), but the positives outweigh the negatives, particularly for sentimental types (I’m a huge softie).

  2. I was talking to a present day witch quite recently – no supernatural powers I don’t think but having certain beliefs and practices. I’m presently researching Irish legends in this regard with maybe ideas for a future project.
    Comfort reading – anything I know I’ll fall into without effort; John Grisham, Tess Gerritsen maybe.

    1. That sounds like the basis for a very interesting future project! Good luck with it. I get enough legal “drama” in my daily life, so I steer clear of Grisham, but my husband (who is also a lawyer) reads his books.

    1. Thank you! I’m hoping for some “me” time too, but I think it’s going to be a while. It’s nice to get a few moments to read each night, though.

  3. First of all, I LOVE your mug. So sweet. I hope things get better for you! That’s a LOT of laundry.

    I’m going to have to check out the Modern Witch books! They sound good. My comfort reading is a good dose of Miss Read (love her sly wit and gentle portrayals of life in an English village) or anything L.M. Montgomery or Laura Ingalls Wilder – my childhood favorites. I just finished collecting all of the Little House books in hardcover (my mom gave my paperback copies away years ago) – I was buying them one or two at a time, gradually, over the course of the spring and summer. I’ll be having a Laura Ingalls Wilder re-reading party very soon, I think. Perfect cure for stress, for me at least.

    1. Thank you! My three girls have owl mugs to match my “mommy” one. It’s nice for tea parties. I love the L.M. Montgomery books, which I re-read last fall. I haven’t read the Little House books for a very long time. It might be time to revisit them!

  4. Sounds like a great series.

    I’m reading “American Cookery” right now, a surprisingly comforting family novel that revolves around the highs and lows of life, love and home cooking from the 20’s through WWII and onward. Each chapter ends with an old fashioned recipe written in prose, which I love. It’s a bit hefty for summer, but so well written I don’t care how heavy it is. Cheers!

      1. The author is Laura Kalpakian. It came out in 2006, published by St. Martin’s Press.

        While the title fits the story, unfortunately it’s so general that the book’s existence is buried in search engines!

  5. Hmmm… comfort books… Good question. Right now I’m just reading whatever I can get my hands on/have time for. But truth be told, I could reread both the Harry Potter and Unfortunate Events series again with my comfort drink, Mexican Cocoa. Mmm, sounds nice. Thanks for a pleasant moment. 🙂

    1. I could re-read Harry Potter again, too! Those were the books I turned to during my last maternity leave, which was a rather stressful time for me.

  6. Most of my reading is comfort reading. It is rare (but I swear it happens) for me to pick up something “substantial.” I tend to read lots of romance novels, but lately that’s been replaced with cozy mysteries.

    1. I like books for their entertainment value. So, “serious” ones aren’t usually at the top of my list unless I have a particular reason to read it (it’s a friend’s novel, it touches on one of the issues I care deeply about, etc). Cozy mysteries sound nice!

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