this lady forgot her bedjacket…
I asked for others’ ideas, and – as fully expected – my readers came up trumps. I think a list of useful comfort reading (of many different kinds) might be a good idea for many of us, so I have collected all those suggestions together.
I hope to have found as many as possible from the various online and blog-based places they turned up – please forgive me if I have missed yours out. Give me a shout in the comments and I will add them. And new ideas also welcome. Many of the books have featured on the blog – click on the links to find the posts.
Hilary McKay, author of my recommended book, gets pride of place: she says
Rumer Godden’s Episode of Sparrows
*‘anything by Rumer Godden’ was added by another reader
& Happy Ever After by Adele Geras.
And when others came up with Elizabeth Goudge books we thought of The Dean’s Watch which Hilary first recommended to me,
A City of Bells and The Scent of Water (both by EG) were also mentioned.
Several people came up with the excellent idea of an entertaining fellow-feeling read: books where an policeman is laid up with an illness or injury, and spends his time solving a long-ago crime. These are:
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – Inspector Grant looks at the case of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower
The Wench is Dead by Colin Dexter – Chief inspector Morse is recovering from an operation, and starts worrying about a miscarriage of justice in a Victorian murder case.
And then there’s Christianna Brand’s Green for Danger – the most terrifying book ever set in a hospital, so apply with caution, but a complete page-turner. And one reader recommended The Nursemaid Who Disappeared by Philip MacDonald – saying ‘ok, I know it's not the nurse who disappeared but it's fun nevertheless!’
I would also like to mention by good friend Margot Kinberg: I told her she should write a post on the topic for her much-loved blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, and she took up the challenge. She has some great ideas for series for convalescents – make sure you read her ideas here, and of course her loyal band of readers came up with yet more ideas.
I am dividing the rest of the suggestions into categories, thought many of the books would fit in more than one place…
classic comfort readsSeveral people suggested most of them.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – one of my top books of all time, and a long-time blog favourite. (Of course I didn’t do a whole fake blogpost for April 1st on James Mortmain’s book-within-a-book. No, I did TWO fake blogposts, to cover BOTH his books.)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for Day by Winifred Watson Another blog favourite. It’s hard to believe it hasn’t been in our lives forever – it was first published in 1938, but was lost for years till the wonderful people at Persephone rediscovered it about ten years ago.
Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate – the Mitford sisters must have provided me with a dozen blogposts, and Nancy is at the forefront.
Anything by Eva Ibbotson – apparently she said herself that her books would be ideal for post-flu reading. And do not miss the article she wrote for the Guardian some years ago, a very personal story to be told in defence of libraries. It will take you five minutes to read and will live with you for a long time. And if you don’t have a tear in your eye at the end of it you have a heart of stone. (And it will show you the seeds of one of the plotlines in her book The Morning Gift.)
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield – a class act and eternal joy.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – recommended by several people.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers
New Classic Comfort read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Anything by Georgette Heyer
Anything by Mary Stewart a perfect suggestion from my friend Deborah, because I actually discovered Mary S when I was a teenager laid up with a broken foot, and a kind friend of my mother's brought over a huge bag of books - what a great thing to do...
Anything by Barbara Pym -was missed off the original list, but obviously should be there. Thank you Paula Sutcliffe.
These from my gang of fellow-crime-fiction fans, though they also came up with some of the non-crime books…Anything by Rex Stout
Wilkie Collins' Woman in White and The Moonstone
A collection of Poirot short stories; ditto the Lord Peter Wimsey short stories,
‘Krista Davis writes a cozy series, the Paws & Claws Mysteries, that hits all the cozy marks like a warm blanket.’
The Wheel Spins' (aka 'The Lady Vanishes') by Ethel Lina White – ‘real edge of the bed stuff!’
‘Donna Andrews's books are creatively written and incredibly funny.’
Corpse in a Gilded Cage by Robert Barnard.
John Dickson Carr books - She Died a Lady, The Judas Window, and Skeleton in the Clock were all mentioned
Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin.
A sweeping saga to get lost in– as David Putnam said, ‘A big fat thick one they can not put down. A book they would not normally read because of time investment.’
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Prince of Tides Pat Conroy
Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
A River God by Wilbur Smith
Any of the RF Delderfield books, such as A Horesman Riding By, To Serve Them All My Days, God Was an Englishman. (What a title… ) Don’t think they would be confined to Delderfield’s compatriots – these were recommended by my Canadian friend Bill Selnes.
London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins (his Bond St Story would do too)
enjoyable non-fictionLive Alone and Like it by Marjorie Hillis – full of joy and interest, and she has another book, Orchids on your Budget – thanks Birgitta.
Colours and Jewels, both by Victoria Finlay
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (but only when the invalid is a bit better, apparently)
I was told there'd be cake (Sloane Crosley)
Rebecca Front’s Curious
So long as the patient is not banned from laughing… there are some very funny books (though of course many of those in other sections are very funny too):
Anything by PG Wodehouse. Of course.
The Jennings and Darbishire books by Anthony Buckeridge: the funniest and best-plotted children’s books. Privileged 7 year olds at a boarding school in England in the 1950s -surely they cannot appeal to modern day children? Oh but they can – just try them. The firmest of favourites in our house.
Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island (could equally file under non-fiction)
Final Random Selectionmost of which could go under other headings above…
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
And those authors we will read anything by:
Lissa also gets to give her own choices:
'A Month in The Country' by J L Carr* is both short and completely curative in most cases. 'The Devastating Boys' - short stories by Elizabeth Taylor is available for moments of recurring weakness, and some light and lovely travel by way of 'River Town' by Peter Hessler...
* And others by Carr were recommended by others
Also – Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie
Stella Gibbons’s Cold Comfort Farm
‘some early Jilly Cooper’ and Cooper’s The Common Years
were both mentioned.
Green Equinox by Elizabeth Mavor (new to me)
Betty MacDonald books – The Egg and I and The Plague and I
‘Would the cosy science fiction of John Wyndham be of interest? What about the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard - not too demanding I would hope.’ from Sergio.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn
My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell
As one reader said, the thought of reading all these wonderful books makes a person want to book in for a minor, painless operation to get the chance to read. Bedjackets not really optional (as regular readers of the blog will know) – so there is a selection throughout…