for me, there's nothing more comforting than a good novel. it's got to be thick. give me eight hundred pages. give me a thousand. give me a story that follows engaging characters performing the most mundane activities. i like books that are about the characters, not the plot. i like books that i can sink into, become one with for a while. i like books that give me a feeling of home when i open the pages.

yesterday i finished reading "lonesome dove" by larry mcmurtry. yep, it's a cowboy book. the tale follows a motley troupe of cowboys and their companions as they traverse the great american west, aiming to be the first to drive a herd of cattle from texas to montana. this book won a pulitzer, can you believe that? i'd wager that most people would find it incredibly boring.

yet i have always been drawn to stories about the "wild west:" about cowboys, outlaws, native americans; the tragedies of the buffalo and the beavers and the wild horses. prospectors, homesteaders, fighters, religious outcasts. it's all romanticized, i do realize that. perhaps it has to do with the ephemeral nature of this period before the continent was "tamed." perhaps it has to do with my own personal history: i grew up in the american southwest, myself. my home bordered reservation lands on both sides. we'd find arrowheads in our backyard, artifacts we treated with their due reverence; some of the pieces were thousands of years old. we didn't belong there, and an air of superstition never quite evaporated; it hangs over me still.

i always found my solace in the written word. in dreams. the beauty of a good book is that you never want it to end. when it's too good, sometimes i'll find myself reading mere snatches at a time; a page here, a page there. i want to save it, savor it. the sequels hardly ever live up to their predecessors: the unfortunate consequence of success is its difficulty to strike twice. so i hold those pages tenderly, read them slowly, swallow one little line at a time.

but what about you, reader? how do you escape? what draws you in? is it books, films, music or video games? tell me about them. tell me what makes you cherish them, tell me which ones feel like an old friend, no matter how much time has passed.