One quiet afternoon at the library, the Adult Services staff settled in to discuss the books we chose as gentle reads… well, that’s not totally true. There’s rarely a quiet afternoon here at the library, but we did discuss books that focus on everyday joys, frustrations, and sorrows of ordinary people -aka gentle reads! It’s actually one of the more difficult categories to pin down with distinct guidelines so if everyone had picked something completely random? I don’t think I would have been surprised. Instead, I’d say there is a definite gentle reads vibe to alllll these books and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find something (or multiple somethings!) that will pique your interest. So are you ready to read?
Megan: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is the story of Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. Dubbed the Supremes as teens in the 1960s, they forged a friendship at the window table at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat that had the strength to last a lifetime. Forty years have passed and life was not always kind to them, but the Supremes have stuck together through it all. Now, the trio is facing a new set of challenges. Luckily, they still have each other and their table at Earl’s. The heartbreaks and joys of ordinary lives are captured beautifully in this charming debut novel. Full of colorful characters and witty banter, this book is a tribute to the enduring power of lasting friendships.
Dori: In The Tower, The Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart, Balthazar Jones is a Beefeater who lives in the Tower of London and gives daily tours about its tragic history. His wife, Hebe, works at the London Underground’s Office of Lost Property. Suffering from the death of their young son, they are drifting apart. When the Queen asks Balthazar to become the caretaker of a menagerie of animals that she’s received as gifts over the years, he begins to heal and when Hebe reunites a lost urn with its owner, she begins to find her way as well. Quirky side characters, animal antics, and historical ghosts add a lightheartedness to this thoughtful gentle read.
Ann: True Sisters by Sandra Dallas is based on historical events. Imagine it is 1856 and you are a young woman living in England or Scotland. What could persuade you to give up your life in England or Scotland to travel to the United States and walk from Iowa to Salt Lake City, Utah? For the four women in our story who do just that, it is the lure of the Zion, the Promised Land described by the Mormon missionaries who have come to the United Kingdom seeking converts. The community and sisterhood that develop among the four women and their family are strong, but the trip to Zion is harsh, and one that not everyone completes. This is a gentle read tempered by the true reality of history.
Emma: The Icecutter’s Daughter by Tracie Peterson is the story of the Krause and Jorgenson families. At age 10, Merrill Krause promises her dying mother to care for her father and brothers. It’s now 1896 and over the years the men have come to rely on her help. Rurik Jorgenson moves to Minnesota from Kansas to help his elderly sick uncle with his furniture-making business. His ex-fiancée, Swea, follows him to Minnesota claiming to be pregnant with his child and hoping to force Rurik into marriage. Rurik does not love Swea and wants to court Merrill. A happy ever after story filled with neighbors helping neighbors and strudel.
Steve: Jim the Boy, by Tony Earley, is the story of 10 year old Jim, who is growing up in North Carolina during the Depression. At the story’s onset we discover that Jim was born just a few weeks after his kind-hearted father passed away. Jim lives with his mother and her three brothers on a small town farm. The story describes Jim’s gradual realization of life’s complexities. Those who are looking for a simple paced story will enjoy.
Carol: In The Daughter’s Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick, it’s 1896 when Norwegian American Helga Estby and her 19-year-old daughter Clara accept a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City within seven months in an effort to earn $10,000, money desperately needed to save their family farm. More than a year later, based on secrets she learned on the trip, Clara chooses to leave the family and change her name–resulting in a 20-year separation from the only life she has ever known. This gentle and inspirational read is based on a true story and teaches lessons about forgiveness, acceptance and God’s greater plan.
Stacey: A Little Folly by Jude Morgan was written by a contemporary author but has the feel of a classic novel created long ago. Valentine and Louisa Carnell are siblings who have been stifled by a harsh, uncaring father. It’s only after his death in 1813 that these two young adults really begin to live. Without having had many previous opportunities to make choices for themselves, they stumble a bit but it might just make them stronger in the end. This quiet, thoughtful book with plenty of lovely details and interior dialogue will provide many hours of reading pleasure.
Our next discussion genre? Women’s fiction! You’ll want to search out a book that features a female protagonist with a focus primarily on relationships between the main character and family, friends, or partners. There can be elements of suspense or mystery but will always have a more romantic tone. These characters will overcome and learn from the challenges they face. We’ll talk titles in a month!