Comfort of the ordinary

During an interview, author J.K. Rowling mentioned intentionally describing food in her Harry Potter series. She did so, she said, because as a child, descriptions of food comforted her when reading.

That revelation struck a cord within me. Regardless of how exciting a plot, rarely do I recall action passages in a book; it’s the quiet moments of reflection, of introspection, of human connection . . . of ordinary behavior . . . that I remember, that comfort me. I’m not talking universality in themes or sponsoring reader identification through the creation of sympathetic characters. I’m talking about the deliberate inclusion of the mundane in the reading experience.

A book by Linda Howard comes to mind. The title escapes me, yet I’ve never forgotten a particular passage wherein the heroine muses about people’s showering habits, about how some folks prefer showering in the morning and how others prefer showering at night, their reasons why and the character’s own personal hygiene slant. This was no life or death struggle here, and only a single paragraph of prose was devoted to the AM and PM showering pros and cons, and yet, including this small ordinary detail of everyday life comforted me.

Sometimes, it’s the little things.

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