Patrons have asked us to recommend something to read during these stressful times — books that are comforting and soothing — with no violence, salty language or explicit sex.  Books that are, well, “gentle.”   Here in Libraryland, we actually call those books “Gentle Reads” and below are some suggestions.  A few are murder mysteries, but they are “cozy mysteries” — the murder happens out of sight, with no gore or violence.  The hero is an amateur sleuth and there is often some humor.

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Cozy and Gentle Reads

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg (2013)

Selling her home and taking time off from her career as a successful motivational speaker, Cecilia Ross moves into a beautiful old house in St. Paul and bonds with three roommates, including one who would reconnect with a daughter she gave up for adoption, one who would visit her long-absent ex and a professional chef who would find inspiration from other restaurants.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (2004)

The author’s celebration of life in a Kentucky town continues with his latest installment–the stories of Port William matriarch Hannah Coulter, an eighty-year-old woman who has been widowed twice and has watched the town’s sense of community gradually deteriorate.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (1975) Amelia Peabody series #1

After her father’s death, thirty-two-year-old Amelia Peabody eschews the role of Victorian spinster and travels to Egypt, where mysterious intruders, boorish archaeologists, and a disappearing two-thousand-year-old mummy test her sanity and independence.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (2018)

The owner of a 1988 music shop in a down-at-heel suburban community uses his talent for connecting customers to the music they seek and resists a chance at an intimate relationship with a beautiful young woman who hides a mysterious agenda. 

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Frank  (2018)

A young, sophisticated Chicago woman falls for the owner of a farm on Johns Island, a lush low-country paradise off the coast of South Carolina, and trades the bustle of cosmopolitan city life for the vagaries of a small Southern community.

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber (2013) Blossom Street series #10

After she is laid off, high-powered lawyer Libby Morgan, with no job prospects in sight, volunteers at a hospital where she meets a handsome doctor and rediscovers the joy of knitting.

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiana (2000)

The 35-year-old self-proclaimed spinster of a small Virginia village discovers a skeleton in her family’s formerly tidy closet that completely unravels her quiet, conventional life.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (2013)

Follows the efforts of a woman who turns a coastal Ireland mansion into a holiday resort and receives an assortment of first guests who throughout the course of a week share laughter and the heartache of respective challenges.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (2009) Flavia de Luce mystery #1

11 year old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, begins her adventure when a dead bird is found on the doorstep of her family’s mansion in the summer of 1950, thus propelling her into a mystery that involves an investigation into a man’s murder.

Here are some Funny and Lighthearted Reading Recommendations

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe (2015)

Ten-year old Lizzie and her sister try to find a new husband for their mother with hilarious consequences.

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan (2020)

Confident that her best days are still ahead, a successful businesswoman relies on close friends and her resourcefulness when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down.

Cordelia Underwood or The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League by Van Reid

In 1896, after Cordelia Underwood inherits land from her uncle and Tobias Walton, unusual incidents begin to happen. Maine author.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (2020)

As the countdown to the New Year begins, soon-to-be-19 Oona Lockhart faints and awakens 32 years in the future in her 51-year-old body; and, greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random.

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (2017)

Traces the experiences of a librarian on the scenic west coast of Ireland who searches for a way to rebuild her community and her own life in the wake of local estrangements.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbie Waxman (2019)

A confirmed introvert finds her simple life upended when the father she never knew passes away, revealing an enormous extended family that overwhelms her budding relationship with a fellow trivia buff.

No One Can Pronounce My Name  by Rakesh Satyal (2017)

Struggling with cultural divisions in a Cleveland suburb mostly populated by Indian Americans, lonely Harit dresses up in a sari to comfort his grief-stricken mother before befriending a woman who writes paranormal romances to manage her fears about her husband’s affair.

The Spellman Files  by Lisa Lutz (2007)

“Izzy” Spellman, a San Francisco private eye with a checkered past, has been working for her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations, since age 12. Now 28, Izzy thinks she wants out of the family business, but elects to take on a cold case while dealing with her 14-year-old sister, a nightmarish Nancy Drew, and parents who have no qualms about bugging their children’s bedrooms.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2002) Thursday Next #1

In a world where one can literally get lost in literature, Thursday Next, a Special Operative in literary detection, tries to stop the world’s Third Most Wanted criminal from kidnapping characters, including Jane Eyre, from works of literature.

Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (2005)

Anabelle Granger endeavors to promote her grandmother’s matchmaking business by landing sports agent Heath Champion as a client, an effort that is challenged by Heath’s arrogant nature and Annabelle’s own unexpected feelings.

We got help from the EBSCO database NoveList, in putting together this list.  You can consult NoveList through Digital Maine Library found on our website, or you can give us a call at 725-5242 for more recommendations.  Or email refdesk@curtislibrary.com. We love helping you find your next great read!