I’ve been doing a lot of comfort reading lately. It’s a kind of mental anesthesia that holds the doomscrolling at bay. Especially comforting are beloved books of my childhood and youth. Opening the familiar pages is a time machine that transports me to the land of as-soon-as-I-finish-this-chapter. Throw in the privilege of being retired, and I could read forever. Or at least until it’s time to start dinner. Even then, thanks to the miracle of audiobooks, I can continue to read as I cook.
Prowling through the electronic library offerings not long ago, I ran across “Daddy-Long-Legs,” a favorite of my youth. Written by Jean Webster, it tells the story of Judy, an orphan girl sent to college by a mysterious benefactor. Sounds cheesy, right? Remember, we’re talking comfort reading here. Along with its sequel, “Dear Enemy,” it’s filled with details of the everyday life of women and orphans very early in the 20th century. Like all good novels, it invites the reader in to share the the characters’ experiences, to see life through their eyes. I gobbled up both books, loving them still after all these years. Except for one thing.