Two years ago, I moved to England and made the very grave mistake of not bringing any comfort reads with me. I was about to begin a master’s programme in Medieval Studies, so the only books I brought were latin textbooks, history textbooks, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which, while an excellent book, is not exactly the kind of read you want when you’re feeling scared and homesick. In a few weeks I’m leaving on a trip that will end in my moving to Ireland, and this time, I know exactly which books to pack and why.
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It is my opinion that Pride and Prejudice is the most perfect book of all time. It’s funny, romantic, has excellent social commentary, and even though I’d read it half a dozen times, I still discover new things about both myself and the story each time I read it. Like so many people with their comfort reads, skimming just a few pages of this precious book lifts my mood to no end, something I know I’ll need in those first scary weeks in a new country.
2. Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot writing as Princess Mia Thermopolis
I am not a big re-reader (there are so many good books to read! I can’t keep reading the same ones again and again!), but I re-read the Princess Diaries series every single year, and every single year I laugh out loud, cry a little, and generally get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling that only a well-loved book can give you. Ransom My Heart was one of the first romances I read, and to this day, it remains one of my favourites, and one I re-read every year. I love the feisty, independent heroine, the scenery, everything. I LOVE this book.
3. Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back-Handed Importunities by Olena Kalytiak Davis
I discovered this book of poetry thanks to the best class I took at uni. It was a class entitled “Women in Poetry,” and we spent the whole term reading poems by amazing women and sitting in a circle and discussing what those women were trying to tell us. Olena’s poems are crazy smart, wickedly funny, and beautiful when read out loud. Two of my favourites are: “To Love” and “Small Number.”
4. Meadowlands by Louise Glück
This is another book from that wonderful poetry class. In it, Louise uses imagery and plot details from the Odyssey to chronicle her divorce. I love how she weaves the epic’s details in with the modern imagination. My absolute favourite: “Purple Bathing Suit.”
In addition to these books, I’ll also be bringing some books I’ve bought in the last few months but haven’t read, including: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Losing It by Emma Rathbone, The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfield, Night Owl by M. Pierce and The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil.
Packing books is, for me, the hardest part of any move. Figuring out what to part with and what to keep can be pretty upsetting, but it’s important to remember that wherever you’re going, there are most likely bookshops with plenty of gorgeous literary gems waiting for you. Take the books you KNOW you’ll read, either sell the rest or leave them in the care of family or friends, and get excited for a host of new adventures that your new home and new books will take you on.