Terry and OGIC have fessed their comfort reading. I thought I'd add to the hue and cry, hoping that other swell folks would do the same. "Comfort reading" has been defined by our dynamic duo as anything that cools down an overheated mind. I'd stretch it a little further and define it as "anything that restores the mind back to its necessary default factory settings." The following list is by no means a summation of my favorite writers, just the stuff that keeps me personally focused.
1. The Oz books -- to restore imaginative settings.
2. Rex Stout -- to restore careful balance between wiseass and logic.
3. James M. Cain -- to cut the crap and get to the point.
4. Just about anything by Asimov, fiction or nonfiction (his history and science books worked wonders for me as a kid) -- to describe things as clearly as possible.
5. Donald Westlake/Richard Stark -- to get prose clean and subtextual.
6. Charles Dickens -- to replenish color and description.
7. Terry Southern -- to restore anti-establishment impulses and ballsiness.
8. John P. Marquand -- to remind mind that satire comes in shades and can be accessible.
9. David Lodge -- to encourage joie de vivre.
10. Ian McEwan -- to respawn impulse to drown babies and revise brutally.