"Chuck Klosterman is a hilarious writer, and it's always comforting to have a good laugh. I turn to his books Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story when I need a lift. Same with Naked by David Sedaris. Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the best book about family I've ever read. The dad's a drunk, they're all dirt poor, but at the end of the day they're happy because they love each other. And that's comforting, right?” —Bridget Herman, contributing writer
"I always go back to Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen wrote it more than 200 years ago, but the characters are as familiar to me as friends. And, in true Austen style, everything ends happily with a wedding.” —Carrie Campbell, art director
"The entire last chapter of my copy of Mama Day by Gloria Naylor is marked with pencil highlighting the most telling lines about family, life, and love. It's the only book that's ever made me cry, and every time I go back and read that last chapter I cry all over again, which for some reason is so comforting to me.” —Blake Miller, senior editor
"Curling up with any one of Emily Giffin's books -- Love the One You're With, Baby Proof, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue -- feels like spending the afternoon with a friend. Sure, they aren't particularly deep and she's not known for her complex literary prose. But the characters are so real and likable that her novels are the type that I want to keep going indefinitely.” —Sarah Crosland, associate editor
l “The Aussie cookbook Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantry, by Donna Hay, was given to me by my sister who lives Down Under. It has great photos and tasty, unusual recipes that have an international flair. Throughout the book my sister wrote in comments about her favorite dishes. It's comforting because every time I drag it out to attempt another culinary adventure, I feel like she's along for the ride as well.” —Lisa Summerell, associate art director
Evoke memories of seasons past with the alluring scents of these candles for all seasons.
winter The calming spice coupled with LAVANILA's signature vanilla scent fills a room with warmth. The Healthy Candle Vanilla Spice by LAVANILA, $32, Sephora, SouthPark, 704-366-5080
spring Notes of lime and grapefruit complement the alluring scent of the blue agava flower and the subtle cinnamon undertone. Blue Agava & Cacao by Jo Malone, $65, Neiman Marcus, SouthPark, 704-442-7900
summer The sweet sangria smell permeates a room creating a scent reminiscent of lazy summer days. Chilled Sangria by Banana Republic, $24, Banana Republic, Blakeney Shopping Center, 704-544-0656
fall The rich vanilla hints of sweet bourbon in this autumnlike candle (pictured). French Bourbon Vanille by Voluspa, $18.95, Paper SkyScraper, 330 East Blvd., 704-333-7130
a hot bath
Why splurge on a spa getaway when you can make soothing bath products in your own kitchen? For soft skin, slip into the bath with a batch of this nourishing homemade scrub.
1 cup Epsom salt 2 drops essential oil of your choice 2 drops food coloring of your choice 2-3 drops Jojoba oil, almond oil, or olive oil 1 tablespoon baking soda (optional)
Blend ingredients until color is even and applyto skin or fresh bath. Courtesy of vivawoman.net.
A good cigar can complement a quiet moment of contentment or bring old-school decadence to a celebration. These bars and lounges are great places to indulge. For best results, pair with cognac.
Morton's The Steakhouse Although you can't light up in the dining room, Morton's offers a lounge where customers can enjoy a glass of scotch, bar bites, and, of course, a cigar. The wood-paneled walls, oil lamps, and burgundy velvet stools evoke a masculine, old-world vibe, and high-end cigars are available for purchase. Try the Davidoff R, a Robusto with medium to full body ($19). 227 W. Trade St., 704-333-2602
Tinderbox of the Carolinas This mall staple carries a selection of limited editions and boutique brand cigars such as Davidoff and Montecristo. May we recommend Montecristo Cabinets ($10-$15)? They're a bit of a rare delicacy, as only about 100,000 are made each year. SouthPark, 704-366-5164
Sullivan's Steakhouse Known for its prime beef cuts and martini menu, Sullivan's offers cigars from brands like Davidoff and Ashton. The most popular cigar sold here is the Romeo y Julieta limited edition ($26 per cigar). Romeo y Julieta cigars, famously enjoyed by Winston Churchill, are reportedly a favorite of Michael Jordan. Tip: Thursday nights, cigars under $20 are sold for half price. 1928 South Blvd., 704-335-8228
McCrainie's Visit this small-town shop to stock up on your favorite smokes. Literary men will like Arturo Fuente's Hemingway cigar (starting at $5.25 for a small cigar), while serious aficionados may appreciate the Padrón 1964 anniversary cigar ($8.75-$16.50). 4143 Park Rd., 704-523-8554
the perfect slippers
Those shoes you wore to work all day are a long-forgotten memory as soon as you slip on these luxuriously cozy UGG slippers ($99.95, Nordstrom, SouthPark, 704-442-6000). Their soft cushioning is perfect for wearing around the house, and their supple suede and plush sheepskin will warm up your toes on a cold night.
Need another reason to curl up on your couch and read a book or watch an old movie? Here are seven ultrasoft and extra-comfy blankets to wrap up in all year long.