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Customer Discussions > Literary Fiction forum

Comfort reading that's not too sappy?

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Showing 1-25 of 43 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 23, 2010 9:51:37 AM PDT
WaterWish says:
I am suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Three books I've read recently were a great comfort to me: "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, and "Beginner's Luck" by Laura Pederson. The last was not necessarily up to my writing standards but I liked the story of heroine basically being taken in and the amazing opportunities it afforded her. There are many "comfort reading" lists but everyone's idea of comfort differs. I enjoy the fact that these are all fairly young writers (somewhat peers) because I am a sometime writer and their work inspires me. But the stories are definitely important - overcoming adversity (without too much adversity in there to drag it down), light humor, some inspiration, a little escapism into a finer or better life. Any recommendations based on what you know of these three books and how they have helped me?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 1:18:19 PM PDT
WriterGal says:
W. Waters
You might try Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Both have humor. Guernsey has more adversity than Cold Comfort Farm.

Posted on Aug 23, 2010 2:30:35 PM PDT
Try The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith. They are wonderful, and if you like them, there are alot!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 2:52:47 PM PDT
WaterWish says:
I tried those. Something about the locale wasn't comforting to me. It felt hardshippy. Not escapist enough in an "Ahhh, that's nice!" sense.... But thanks for responding.

Posted on Aug 23, 2010 7:48:59 PM PDT
"Colony" by Anne Rivers Siddons. Family dramas in Maine.
"September" and "Winter Solstice" by Rosamunde Pilcher. Ditto, in Scotland.
"Deep Creek" by Dana Hand. Moves from darkness to light and redemption.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 8:47:13 PM PDT
Raquel says:
LOST LETTER by Neil MulliganLost Letter
Deep Creek by Dana HandDeep Creek

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 6:47:37 AM PDT
WaterWish says:
Harris Jensen, "Colony" and the Rosamunde Pilcher books sound good. Raquel, I think you're toying with me -- pancreatic cancer? Then racism and murder in "Deep Creek"? I'm surprised Harris Jensen recommended that too. There must be something I'm not getting from the synopsis. But I really need to keep my reading pretty stress-free. It's a tall order when you want to read something somewhat literary or humorous, but need to keep things like loss and death out of the equation...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 8:22:04 AM PDT
P. Lund says:
Have you tried anything of Ann Tyler? I think she has a bit of everything you are looking for. I am presently rereading St Maybe. Would definatly recommend. If you have not discovered this author, you might start with Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 11:36:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2010 11:37:34 AM PDT
Lark Spurr says:
I just finished Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and it might fit with the books you described. Also, anything by Rosamund Pilcher, "The Shell Seekers" and anything my Marjorie Sharp. Marjorie Sharp was writing in the 40's and 50's and her books are well written and charming. Also, Elinor Lipman's "Looking for Alice Thrift," and Anne Tyler's "Searching for Caleb" (an all time favorite of mine). I would be inerested to know if you have read or think of reading any of thewse books. Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday" is unlike all his other books and is definitely on my comfort list to read every year. Don't forget Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. Great re-reads as an adult.

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 12:14:52 PM PDT
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Maggie Now - Little Women - A Secret Garden - Charms for Easy Living - Back When We Were Grownups - Howard's End - Middlemarch

Take care, dear one!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 12:23:46 PM PDT
Lark Spurr says:
How could I forget A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? I think I will go to the library right now.

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 12:52:26 PM PDT
susan lee says:
Try Lorna Landvik - some of the domestic situations are a little intense, but there's plenty of love and support for working them out, and lots of humor. I was dubious about Jan Karon's Father Tim series until I read one - I found them all very comforting and warm and funny, and just short of sappy. If you like Southern atmosphere, please try A Short History of a Small Place by T.K. Pearson. Wonderful story-telling about outrageous and endearing characters in a small town. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is a funny-sweet classic about an intelligent teenager surviving life with her eccentric family in a crumbling old castle. The semiautobiographical Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson is a gorgeous immersion into the English countryside before the wars. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee is similarly rich and beautiful. On the American side, Little Heathens by Mildred Kalish is a charming and unsentimental memoir about growing up in Iowa during the Depression. If you can hanlde a gentle-ish murder mystery - modern and well-written with good characters - try Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series. Or for upbeat humor in a mystery, Dog On It by Spencer Quinn; told from the dog's point of view. (There is some brief violence.) The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa is an unusual short novel - soulful, lovely, and sweet, and featuring relationships between numbers as an aspect of the story. If you like long, well-written books centering on character more than plot (I do), The Book of Ebenezer LaPage by GB Edwards is outstanding. If you can cozy up to the humorous side of being a post-war English gentlewoman, you can't beat anything written by Barbara Pym. I adore her! Start with Excellent Women. If you're looking for something a little more modern and hip, Eleanor Lipman is great - I loved A Family Man. Also liked Laura Rider's masterpiece by Jane Hamilton; cute story with realistic characters; nothing like her famous Map of the World. (Don't read that one right now. It's great, but DARK.) For total escapism, Free Gift with Purchase by Jean Godfrey-June is a joyful and juicy memoir of life as a beauty editor for a magazine (all those free beauty products!!). Also funny and down-to-earth is How to Get Things Really Flat by David Martin - a how-to-keep-house book for men that is hilarious and practical at the same time. Good luck to you!

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 3:02:00 PM PDT
WaterWish says:
Thank you so much for all the great suggestions especially all the time you took, susan lee. I think I am in need of fairly current stuff right now. I feel the need to be able to relate to the protagonist(s) in time and space, and again, to feel inspired by the writers who would be of a certain age now (say 35 to 55). I think it is a comfort to find characters and authors of this relative day and age who are living their dreams, finding inspiration, being lifted up to their higher potential to enjoy what they deserve, and all the while some humor doesn't hurt either... Sounds so Pollyanna-ish, I know... But I felt good about the first three books I mentioned... Maybe some of these others will offer the same. More ideas are welcome!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2010 10:54:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2010 10:55:03 AM PDT
WyoGirl says:
I would suggest any of Maeve Binchy if you like Irish stories. Binchy's characters are well developed and she treats them with love and tenderness. I love the Big Stone Gap stories of Adriana Trigiani. Nothing too stressful but interesting characters and lots of love and care in the stories. Hope you find rest and relaxation in your reading.

Posted on Aug 30, 2010 1:45:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2010 1:46:47 PM PDT
Lark Spurr says:
I recommend anything by Rumer Godden, especially Episode of Sparrows.

Posted on Sep 1, 2010 7:33:12 AM PDT
Riki Kucheck says:
A few good ones to read are


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2010 9:43:07 AM PDT
Anything by Rosamunde Pilcher? I find her books extremely comforting, like reading a letter from a dear friend. I am also a writer, and I find that her style of writing elevates my own writing in a non direct way. She has a lyrical style that I really appreciate.

Posted on Nov 4, 2010 9:51:36 AM PDT
WaterWish says:
Thanks everyone. I am reading "A Rather Charming Invitation," the third (and last, so far) in C.A. Belmond's series. Very dreamy and the stuff of fun fantasy, but the heroine isn't sappy at all. I am also reading an older Jane Smiley, "Good Faith," a novel about the early '80s real estate boom, which sounds like it would be stressful, but it's quite light and entertaining. I've always liked Jane Smiley but some of her books are heavier than others. This one is good. I tried another of my favorite authors recently, T.C. Boyle, but didn't feel comforted or entertained much by his fictionalization of the life of Arthur Kinsey. I appreciate the suggestions -- keep them coming.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 4:32:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2010 4:33:36 PM PDT
I find that there's a lot of relief after reading an Alice Hoffman novel - definitely some hardship but not droning on and on with it.

How about Julia Alvarez - Yo!

Mary Kay Andrews - Savannah Blues

Posted on Nov 8, 2010 5:02:38 PM PST
Ruth says:
I just read "The Walk" by Richard Paul Evans. It has a positive outlook, I think you will like the inspiration, with not a alot of angst. Also, David Guterson's "East of the Mountains",; the books of Sandra Dallas specifically "Prayers for Sale" have positive outlook. If you have not ever read anything by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnam monk who won Nobel prize, try his very short non-fiction "Anger:Wisdom for Cooling the Flames", serious though lighthearted.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 10:15:39 AM PST
Check out my novel All that you can leave behind. It tells the story of thirteen year old Sage, a lonely boy on the brink of self-destruction, who discovers that he only can take control over his life once he leaves his past behind.

Imagine being stranded on a deserted island, with the birds and the trees as your only companion. To thirteen year old Sage, the Caribbean island he just moved to might as well be deserted. At the brink of adolescence, and away from the turmoil of his old life in southern California, he is now left to deal with a history of abuse. Invisible to his young mother, who seems to be more interested in partying and smoking weed with her boyfriend than in her teenage son, and devoid of any friends, his lonely world seems without escape.

After a failed suicide attempt he starts writing about his world in a blog, embarking on a courageous quest to find a meaning of life. On his path of self-discovery he is helped by an adult couple who show him a more stable, family life, and even offer him a home when things get bad. A passionate relationship with a girl he meets finally allows him to overcome some of the emotional scars of abuse, and propel him forward towards maturity. As he learns that he carries his own key to happiness inside, he slowly gains confidence in himself and in the world around him. Just as he believes to have finally found the love of his mother, she betrays him when she unfolds her plans to move to Colombia instead of going back to California, like she promised. When her boyfriend suddenly dies, Sage is once again left with a a life-deciding choice; stay on the island with the people he now considers his family, or go back home with his own mother. Ultimately, he discovers only he can turn his hate into love and that, in order to survive, he will have to leave his past behind.

More than a story of redemption, it's about the innate human drive for life and love, a quest for happiness on which all of us embark.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2010 10:19:26 AM PST
WaterWish says:
Suicide attempt? scars of abuse? betrayal? sudden death? Somehow I don't think this is going to fill the bill... I realize there are books full of adversity that end up with redemptive qualities, but I'm not in a position right now to deal with the real adverse stuff.

Posted on Jan 11, 2011 6:54:44 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 14, 2011 9:44:40 AM PDT]

Posted on Jan 11, 2011 7:52:07 AM PST
ruth harris says:

I agree with everyone who mentioned Maeve Binchey...she writes with love, insight and an expansive heart. Her books always make me feel good.

Posted on Jan 12, 2011 6:17:01 AM PST
Ride This Day Down Into Night I just looked at my novel for the first time in a long time, and I received to very nice reviews. Whoever wrote them, thank you! I think this is a very fine novel, frankly, and even more cinematic. This was one of the first novels I'd written, and I still like it, although I do see shortcomings in it. I hope some other people take a look at the novel and review it. Or if you've read it and forgot to review it, I would love if you would now!!!
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Discussion in:  Literary Fiction forum
Participants:  33
Total posts:  43
Initial post:  Aug 23, 2010
Latest post:  Mar 16, 2014

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