Let’s Talk with Cheryl Hollon

Comfort Reads
by Cheryl Hollon

You’ve heard of comfort food, right? There are also comfort reads!

My father passed away last month at nearly 92. He lived a full and rich life filled with both challenges and blessings.

He was an example to his four children in the diligent application of persistent tiny steps towards an ambitious goal. With only a grade-school education, he taught himself trigonometry so he could earn his daily bread as a land surveyor rather than a factory worker. He taught us how to use the vast and free resources of the local library and instilled a love of reading, the satisfaction of research, and how it good it feels to achieve a hard-won triumph.

Although he had been frail for a number of years, the death of a parent is an emotional and physical roller-coaster. I’m comforted that he passed quietly in his sleep.

The wisest advice I’ve been given is to take care of myself. I’m doing that by dragging out my favorite books and reading myself to sleep. I find solace in the well-known passages of books that I have read and re-read in times of stress.

I’ve finished Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and I’ve started a re-read of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Next in line will be Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. All of these reads are accompanied by mass quantities of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, of course.

Do you have comfort reads? I’d love to hear about them.

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Comments

  1. It’s an adjustment when we lose a parent. I made a tribute to each of mine that brought me a measure of comfort. My father had always wanted his 1929 hitchhiking journal to be published. I edited it and published his work once indie publishing took off. His book is now for sale online. As for my mother, I did an album with photos from her childhood up until the time she met my dad. I’ve also used some of their writings in my books, with proper credit given. This has been gratifying and a way to honor their lives.

    • Thanks, Nancy. That’s a big help. I write under my maiden name and enjoyed the look on their faces when they held a book with the HOLLON name as the author. I’m so glad I chose to do that. Dad wrote some original tunes for the guitar — you’ve give me an idea.

  2. Maggie Toussaint says

    I may have more comfort foods than comfort reads, or is it the other way around? I am stressed while writing the first draft of a book and have found that if I read new-to-me books some of that author’s style spills over into my work. Since it takes months for me to get the first draft down, the story will read like it had 30 or 40 authors. To combat that, I have a fav author I love that writes in 3 different genres. If I read one of her books I’ve previously read, I’m good. No style transference. And I’m always swept away into her stories. Luckily Jayne Ann Krentz has an extensive backlist. I love what Sally said about grief moving to the side a bit as time goes on. I’ve had family losses too that bent me double. Now they’ve moved to the side, but I can function again. Hang in there. One of the things that helps me is taking pics of sunsets.

  3. sallycootie says

    Cheryl, that is good advice. Take care of yourself. I have found that while of course you never get over the loss, it moves a bit to the side so you don’t have to look straight through it. And what a wonderful man your father was. My mother and grandmother were both avid readers. I have some old favorites I re-read just because they make me feel good: Jane Eyre, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I wanted to be Francie and read all the library books in alphabetical order) and maybe a strange choice but IT by Stephen King. I enjoy all genres but what I really love about the book is the closeness of the children, their unconditional love and loyalty for each other.

  4. authorlois says

    Cheryl, what an amazing dad you had and how lucky he was in your life for so long.

    • Absolutely and amazingly lucky to have such a long time with him. By the way, Mom’s birthday is tomorrow. She’ll be 93! Good genes in my family.

  5. What a wonderful way to honor your dad. It is amazing to look back at a parent’s life and accomplishments to see the choices he/she made to find success and to give those same lessons to their families. We need more stories of parents to be shared with the world today.

    While I didn’t see my dad reading more than the newspaper or sports magazines, I gained a world of knowledge from him on building self-respect by respecting others. Sometime in my tweens I found his college yearbook (he only attended one year). There was a photo of him on the yearbook staff. My mom told me later that he was a writer and also a musician of sorts, but those were put to the side to raise our big family.

    I am amazed by the memories and images from his business in downtown Tampa that make their way into my books.

    Thank you for sharing this time in your life with us.

    • I think BEING a good example is the most difficult thing about parenting. That’s what I remember and I hope that’s what my sons remember as well. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  6. dianestuckart says

    Cheryl, what a lovely tribute to your dad. It doesn’t matter how old they or we are, it is still so hard to lose a parent. And I love those pics of him. My comfort read is always the old Barbara Michaels mystery/romantic suspense books. Related, after both my parents passed, I found the book that my dad would read to us kids when we were little. Not a child’s book. This was actually an anthropology text called “Early Man”. As far as I know, my dad (HS education from Texas but street smart and something of an inventor) had no interest in Neanderthals. I have no clue where he got the book or why he chose it as our nighttime read (unless he was hoping to put us to sleep within a page or two!) but I have that book in my library in honor of him. 🙂