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Uplifting Reading for Shut-Ins!


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#1 grace

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 09:39 PM

i picked up that phrase "shut-ins" from someone who WAS one. i am seeking the help of you people, who are so incredibly well-read (unlike myself). your thread about your summer reading has inspired me to ask your help.

here's the story:

my mother, who is a voracious reader, has simultaneously (last year), had a stroke and moved house - far from her huge circle of literate, film-loving, art&crafty-type, mostly-female friends from academia.

because the stroke co-incided with the move, she had no opportunity to make a new circle of friends. so, limited by her current immobility, she spends most of her time at home alone, reading. ....often several books a day...

of course, this means she is getting through the good stuff pretty fast. and she doesn't want to spend a fortune on NEW books, nor to acquire more 'baggage' - having just given away all her work-related books, on her retirement.

so: books that are old enough to be in the library system would be good, but new titles are welcome, too.

i know this is a tough one, because anyone who reads that much is quite likely to have read whatever you recommend - but, putting that to one side for a moment -
what books can you recommend that are uplifting positive reads?
that make you appreciate life, and feel happy to be here (even if you are temporarily incapacitated, and having to struggle for tiny improvements in walking and feeding yourself...). please - i don't mean helen keller/'invalid' books - nor necessarily books about recovery, or triumph over difficulty -
just feel good books...?

#2 grace

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 09:44 PM

bit more info: she likes autobiographies, biographies, some element of history, asian themes, asian female writers, mostly stuff about women - and lots of other stuff that i can't really pin down.

NO mills & boon, murder mysteries, crime or war novels, ...nothing about the holocaust......no bad language, drugs, corruption, organised religion, rape, pedophilia or mayhem, and nothing about domestic violence. :)

too hard? ;)

#3 Guest_twas a delight_*

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 01:55 AM

True North by Jill Ker Conway. It's a memoir written by an amazing historian/teacher. Beautifully written and never drags at all.

#4 Kate B

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 02:32 AM

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg is a great read - much better than the film, and it might match your criteria. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells is another one.

Both are novels about women who have amazing friendships and get thorugh tough times... I love them, they made me feel good. The characterisation is very good, so you really believe you are reading about real people.

Your criteria are quite tough. Are they yours or your mother's?;)

#5 grace

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 04:47 AM

i am trying to imagine my mother's criteria.

*MY* criteria would be : only ballet books, & NO fiction at all !!

also of course, i do take her shopping for books - so i see, out of the books i pass to her, what she actually looks at, and what she rejects out-of-hand!

i think she has read 'ya-ya sisterhood' .

i will take a note of the others. thanks! :)

#6 Ari

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 05:37 AM

Has your mother read Amy Tan's novels, Grace? They are all about a Chinese-American woman and a Chinese woman who are related (usually mother/daughter but sisters in one book) and who struggle to understand each other. Or rather, the American one learns to come to terms with her Chinese relative, and in the process discovers something about herself. Tan's first book, The Joy Luck Club, is still her best, but the others are enjoyable, too.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is also fascinating. The title character goes through much tribulation but triumphs in the end.

#7 Estelle

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:15 AM

Oh, I thought I had replied before, but it seems that my post didn't get through.

I've just finished Sylvia Townsend Warner's "Lolly Willowes", and found it extremely well written, very witty and also quite poetic. The main character is an English women who, in the 1920s, after spending two decades with boring, conventional family of her brother in London, decides to go back to the countryside (where she was born and raised) and settles alone in a small village.

Also, I don't know if it has been translated into English, but I love Kenji Miyazawa's books of short stories; they are very poetic and uplifting. The main characters often are animals or natual elements (flowers, mountains...) If you've seen some Japanese cartoons by Hayao Miyazaki or Iseo Takahata, there are some similarities in the atmosphere.

#8 Kate B

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 07:42 AM

I also thought... 84 Charing Cross Road/The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff is a lovely book(s).

#9 carbro

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 07:47 AM

For some reason, I thought of Lewis Thomas' "The Lives of the Cell." Dr. (Ph.D.) Thomas was a research scientist at a hospital, and this book is a compilation of non-scientific essays that contemplate the miracle of living things. Beautifully written, and while it doesn't sound like something your mom needs, can be read one essay at a time.

#10 dirac

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 09:25 AM

Autobiography recommendation: Claire Bloom's "Leaving a Doll's House." Bloom is very smart and well read, writes well, and combines intelligent commentary on art and life with some yummy
gossip.

I also recommend "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," which I realize almost everyone has read, because it's one of the few books I know of that seems to please everyone, no matter what their usual tastes or the level of their brow.

I'd suggest "The Joy Luck Club" if Ari hadn't already. I would add Bette Bao Lord's "Spring Moon."

#11 Hans

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 10:45 AM

If she hasn't already read them, I think many things by Edith Wharton would be appropriate, but not The House of Mirth. Twilight Sleep is funny, and The Reef is a beautiful book. Roman Fever and Other Stories is witty and interesting, and The Age of Innocence is wonderful, though perhaps a little sad at the end (no histrionics, though). The Children is another good one. Probably not The Custom of the Country. There is also an adorable, funny book by Thomas Hardy that I can't for the life of me remember the title of--it takes place in a small English village and involves a love triangle between a rector, the church organist and a farmer's son. All right, that description makes it sound very immodest, but really it's sweet and amusing.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 10:58 AM

My mother is equally difficult, but dissimilarly so. Pretty much all she can tolerate are mysteries. Clean ones. :) I have learned through trial and error that my definition of "clean" is far, far more lenient than hers. She grew up in a time where the word "bloody" (as an exclamation) was written "b-------y" and likes it that way.

Some people find mysteries uplifting, and, if so, there's Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout and the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie.

#13 vagansmom

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 01:31 PM

Grace, your mom sounds like mine! Towards the end of her life, she wanted only uplifting books - nothing too sad or serious.

Both of us enjoyed Gladys Taber's books. There are at least a couple Stillmeadow books and one about Cape Cod, as I recall. In fact, my mom gave those books to me when I was going through a rough time emotionally and was looking for good prose but nothing heavy.

Older books that fit your mother's definition (although being a voracious reader, she may have read them already) are Trollope's Barchester Chronicles . There's a good bunch of them. He had such perception when it came to people.

I also would highly recommend Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals if she hasn't already read them. L'Engle's prose is peaceful and provocative at the same time. There are 4 books in the series but I like Circle of Quiet ,Two Part Invention , and The Summer of the Great Grandmother . The fourth book, The Irrational Season , doesn't appeal to me because it's primarily about her relationship to God.

There's also a nice autobiographical book called Letters of a Woman Homesteader that I recall my mom and I liked equally. I really enjoyed another autobiography called Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. It chronicled her grandmother's, mother's, and her own life in China throughout the 20th century. Riveting stories about living under all the upheavals in China during that period, but ultimately a book full of hope.

#14 Ed Waffle

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 02:39 PM

C. S. Lewis, although he is very much a Christian author.

His biography is excellent: Surprised by Joy

There is the seven volume The Chronicles of Narnia, a children's tale for adults. There was a new Australian edition brought out last year, so it may well be in libraries. Details of that edition are here:

http://www.harpercol...&SearchBy=Title

Also The Screwtape Letters, in which an apprentice devil keeps failing to tempt people into Hell. Its attitudes are closer to the nineteenth century than the twenty-first, so it may not be appropriate.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 02:51 PM

Ah, Ambrose Bierce -- now THERE'S some good summer reading :)


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