Friday, January 20, 2017

In Which I Make a Plan to Keep My Spirits Up

My Happy Pile

This past year I have been disappointed in my reading. I spent way too much time perusing 'stuff' online leaving my once robust reading routine in tatters.

On the upside, I did attend many author events in 2016 - more than I wrote about - and am grateful to my library for inviting so many outstanding writers to speak here. At least I brushed against some fine writing. 

I rarely seek out new books anymore although I do occasionally stumble across one that piques my interest.  I am especially put off by book reviews that use words such as 'sweeping', 'saga', 'multi-generational', 'dark', 'violent', 'tragic', 'downfall', or 'dystopian'. And it seems as if most reviews do. 

Sigh. I do believe I am in a grand reading funk.

Maybe this is what "a certain age" looks like. I long for the comfort of a book I know is well written, entertaining, and if it makes me laugh all the better. 

To combat my despair - not only about my reading but other things as well - I made a plan to read books that will Keep My Spirits Up. (OK, I know it should be Keep Up My Spirits but it sounds better with the preposition at the end.)

So, to make it easy to grab one, I have created My Happy Pile of books that I know will make my spirits soar:

Merry Hall trilogy by Beverley Nichols - One cannot be blue when in the company of Mr. Nichols, his cats, and his house and garden restoration schemes.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson - A book I bought when it was first published but has languished on the shelf. Mr. Bryson is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne - What could be more pleasant than spending time in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield - I feel my spirits brightening just thinking about this delightful book.

My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber - Things that go bump in the night are sure to bring on a smile or two.

Endangered Pleasures by Barbara Holland - A refreshing defense of naps, bacon, martinis, and other indulgences.

Simple Pleasures - British writers look at 'the little things that make life worth living' - published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Of course there will be the gentle mystery or comic crime caper at bedtime.

In case my choices leave you cold, I have received responses to my call to bloggers and commenters with suggestions for their own Happy Pile and will be putting them together for you next week. 

Let's all hang tight and Keep Our Spirits Up.


  1. I've read quite a few of your Happy Books pile. I think they will make you happy. I've just discovered that I really enjoy a genre I'd previously shunned: mid-19th century British domestic novels. I'm late to the game, but I'm currently enjoying Dorothy Whipple's The Great Mr. Knight (which seems to be the American title of They Knew Mr. Knight). I've just bought another of hers, anticipating another pleasant novel.

    1. Hi, Joan. I am not familiar with Ms. Whipple (is she any relation to Mr. Whipple of Charmin fame? heehee). My library apparently has not heard of her...nothing in its collection. I will keep a look out at used book sales. But your mention of domestic novels makes me think of Barbara Pym. She might be a welcome addition to My Happy Pile.

  2. Ah, Belle; Bryson and Nichols always perk me up and give me at least a giggle, if not a good laugh.
    I read "One Summer . . . " via audiobooks this past summer. I had finished the first CD as I was pulling in the driveway. My husband, having a particularly challenging day, was pulling out. I shouted out "Wait. Listen to this". He did, and the next week was a long exchange of CDs being passed back and forth, and much lively, often humorous conversations over the dinner table.
    PS Thank you for your kind words. Hanging on here, and appreciating good blogs like yours.

    1. Penny, your CD passing back and forth makes for a bit of comic relief in my day. Creates quite a picture! I don't know why I sometimes put off reading a book that I know for certain I will enjoy. There is something to be said for delayed gratification, but I have been holding on to 'One Summer' for years now. I think I have delayed my enjoyment long enough!

      Thank you and take heart.

  3. I have only read a couple of the books on your list, and I haven't read the Bryson--something for me to look forward to, also. I do love his writing, and I'm pretty sure I'm at least a couple of books behind. My husband is reading Notes From a Small Island right now, and he keeps reading passages and phrases out to me, and we both laugh.

    I know what you mean about book descriptions, also. I try to avoid reading books that are "heartbreaking" as well.

    Are you familiar with Persephone Books? While I've never actually bought a Persephone, I think they have a lot of books that are mid-century domestic novels, like Joan mentioned. I know they have published at least one book by Dorothy Whipple. She's on my to-read list, too.

    1. Yes, Kathy, Bill Bryson is always good for a laugh. I would love to meet him but I think he has moved back to England so I don't know if he will be doing any touring in America anytime soon.

      "Heartbreaking"? Avoid at all costs.

      I am familiar with Persephone books. I thought at one time it offered a subscription service but I checked the website and don't see anything like that. The online catalogue is gorgeous. Worth a trip to London?