Reading Roundup #50: In Search of Rest

We’ve almost made it to the end of another workweek, and I am so excited for the long weekend ahead. I’m hoping it will give me the chance to rest up that I didn’t really get over Christmas, so I can pull myself together for the coming weeks. If this week hasn’t been particularly great, however, at least the reading was — I honestly don’t know what I’d do without audiobooks to get me through long workdays! Even the stories I read in the evenings gave me good things to think about during the days.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by (Äldre dam #1) Helene Tursten: Delightfully sinister, An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good follows the murderous exploits of 88 year-old Maud, who quietly takes care of her “problems” and uses others’ assumptions about the elderly to get away with it every time. It’s immediately apparent that Maud is an extremely disturbed individual, with no qualms or conscience, but she’s surprisingly relatable. After all, who hasn’t day dreamed about getting rid of annoying neighbors (and some of Maud’s truly have it coming) or unscrupulous businessmen? Told with a light, deft touch, this collection of short stories is entertaining fantasy for all the quiet neighbors… and a reminder that the elderly are still people, with full lives and secrets of their own. So don’t get on their bad side, and never turn your back.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Every time I reread this, I find something new to think about. I always enjoy the discussions of politics and social issues, but this time, I really paid attention not just to what people were saying but to how they said it. Gaskell shows people from different backgrounds, with vastly different experiences, educations, and struggles, learning to put themselves in one another’s shoes and work together for solutions. There are real arguments, too, of course, but the characters also model how model how gentle, respectful questioning can challenge and change flawed ways of thinking. Additionally, I noticed how much value Gaskell puts on rest, on taking those rare opportunities when there is nothing pressing to do and using them to simply sit, feel, and process the traumas you couldn’t reflect upon when you were living through them. It was a good reminder for where I am right now.

The Governess (Sisters of Woodside Mysteries #1) by Mary Kingswood: Kingswood has been on my list for a long time because of a friend, and this was exactly what I expected in the best way — charming and gentle, with a dash of humor and drama. I figured out the mystery almost immediately, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. The real highlight of this book, after all, is the lead characters, who are good, ordinary people without being dull — I found myself laughing out loud multiple times.

At the beginning of the workweek, I needed some easy, mindless fluff, so I turned to Anne Gracie, who never fails to entertain. The Christmas Bride was a fun little novella, and it was nice to revisit the world of the Chance sisters, who I so enjoyed, and The Stolen Princess, book one of Gracie’s Devil Riders series was also a good time. Though she may have other flaws, Gracie is one of the best I’ve found for writing children in adult books. They always have their own personalities and ideas, and they’re never cloyingly sweet or unrealistically clever. They are children who act like children. And I love how her adult characters interact with them and treat them as people, too.

Finally, I ended the reading week with The Wedding Journey by Carla Kelly, which I found through a list at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books when I was looking (as I always am) for historical romance novels that aren’t about fabulously wealthy dukes and ladies. I immediately fell in love with the main characters, who are quiet, ordinary people — not at all your typical romantic leads — who display extraordinary resilience. I genuinely admired them and their ragtag group. I already know I’ll be returning to this book someday, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of Kelly’s work.

And that’s my reading list for the week! But what about you? What are some books you’ve read that helped you through a tough time or taught you something about resilience and healing?

—b

9 thoughts on “Reading Roundup #50: In Search of Rest

  1. I hope you’re managing to have a lovely and restful weekend and I hope you have less stressful weeks ahead! I’ve been seeing regular mentions of North and South on several lists and my curiosity gets piqued every time. It’s become a classic that I would definitely love to tackle (at some point lol)! Happy reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dini! Ignoring the outside world for a few days has been very restorative, and I’m hoping it’s set me up will for the week ahead. *fingers crossed* I hope you enjoy N&S, if you ever get to it!

      Like

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