Pleasently peaceful books for pregnant people
July 2, 2012 6:16 AM   Subscribe

My wife is just entering the second trimester and is having a new fiction craving. The last time she was pregnant, she relaxed and read constantly. I'm looking for book recommendations that are enjoyable page turners about nice things happening to positive happy people.

She loved Middlesex and The Princess Bride

Enjoyed His dark materials but not so much the final book or it's metaphysics.

She's read many of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, but got board of them.

My suggestion of the Harry Potter books, resulted in a "Um, no, I've seen the films already."

She obviously doesn't mind children's books recommendations. Scary things can happen to people, but she needs to know that everything will eventually end up happily ever after.
posted by ben30 to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I like P.G. Wodehouse, particularly the Bertie and Jeeves books. They are light and breezy and pretty much hilarious.

Another option is the Cat Who...series. I think Lillian Jackson Braun wrote the first one, then the rest are cranked out by the same people who did the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Easy read, amusing if you enjoy cats.

I like Chick Lit, and can consume like potato chips. If you have a Kindle there are tons of options for about $3.00 each.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I literally just finished reading the classic Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris, which would fit that description. It's pretty damn short, though; but if she likes it, there are apparently more places Mrs. 'arris goes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

For lightweight/happy/charming books, my go-tos are the Redwall series and anything by Diana Wynne Jones (but especially Howl's Moving Castle).
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:30 AM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

If she likes things like Jane Austen BBC dramas, Georgette Heyer's Regency novels are really lovely.
posted by h00py at 6:34 AM on July 2, 2012

I like the Tales of the City books for this kind of light reading.
posted by crocomancer at 6:38 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

She could dive into other children's classics: The Dark is Rising series, Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, The Phoenix and the Carpet, Five Children and It. And Mary Stewart's excellent mystery- thrillers, where action (of a mostly mild sort) and romance and, occasionally, a hint of the supernatural meld together in amazing ways. A more recent series in the same vein would be the Vicky Bliss books by Elizabeth Peters. Georgette Heyer's works would be ideal (stick to the Regencies, not the histories). If she has a taste for a big series that almost reads as fantasy, the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey and Maturin books.
posted by PussKillian at 6:39 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I reread the Anne of Green Gables series last year and was delighted from start to finish.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

The author of Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery) wrote one novel aimed at adult readers called The Blue Castle. It's about a good-hearted young woman breaking away from her repressive family and finding love and happiness in a cabin in the woods (with a loving woodsman).
posted by Katine at 6:53 AM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

She may have read it already, but I really enjoyed Life of Pi.


The Giant's House

Shoeless Joe

The Poisonwood Bible
posted by triggerfinger at 6:57 AM on July 2, 2012

The Malgudi stories of R.K. Narayan.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:59 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Patrice Kindl's "Keeping the Castle" -- a sweet and very funny modern Regency romance, very well written and quite dry rather than being shmoopy.
posted by Jeanne at 7:04 AM on July 2, 2012

British social comedy is excellent for this. In addition to Wodehouse and Austen, I'll add Nancy Mitford, one of the Mitford sisters. Her fictional works are hilarious, thinly disguised accounts of her relative's exploits. And reading other writers' non-fiction about her fascinating family will result.

Laurie Colwin was an American who wrote witty, bit fluffy social comedy about the professional/intellectual upper class in NYC.

(A caveat about Paul Gallico: his work is sincerely Catholic in conception, and so often includes wrenching tragedy as part of the storyline. Same applies to Rumer Godden. Might be a bit too emotional for what your wife is looking for right now.)
posted by likeso at 7:12 AM on July 2, 2012

If she enjoys books of the chick-lit-ish genre, consider Jennifer Weiner. Little Earthquakes even has a pregnancy/new motherhood theme, and (non-spoiler) things turn out OK for everyone in the end.
posted by maryrussell at 7:38 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
posted by deeparch at 7:38 AM on July 2, 2012

Jan Karon. Miss Read. Angela Thirkell. Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie books. Barbara Pym. Joe Keenan.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:17 AM on July 2, 2012

Seconding anne of green gables. Man were my expectations low, and man was it a great book.

I'd also recommend TH White's Once and Future King. If she ever saw the disney movie The Sword in the Stone, it's based off of the first part of this book. I read the third part (about lancelot) once every other year usually.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 8:18 AM on July 2, 2012

Fannie Flagg's books are all about good people in a mostly-good universe, and some of them (especially Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man) have had me on the floor laughing

Cold Comfort Farm is hysterical and grown-up, and goes well with Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I'll Take It by Paul Rudnick is about a college boy swooped off to see the autumn leaves by his aunts, who are also planning to rob L.L. Bean. It's out of print but worth tracking down - it's a hoot.

I would caution against the earlier recommendation of The Poisonwood Bible - it's a wonderful book and I thoroughly recommend it in general, but it is not optimistic or happy things happening to happy people.
posted by Mchelly at 8:32 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I haven't read it, but I've heard really, really good things about Anna and the French Kiss, a YA romance that a friend of mine described as "like cotton candy."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am in my second trimester and just last night finished "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" which was truly delightful.
posted by annathea at 8:44 AM on July 2, 2012

I came to recommend Laurie Colwin. Perfect for that sort of thing.

I really liked Bunheads by Sophie Flack. It's a little thin on the plot but the details about the ballet world are informative and absorbing. I don't know if your wife watches TV, but I have similarly been enjoying Breaking Pointe, a reality show about ballet. It's also fairly informative and lacks the nastiness of the housewife type reality shows.
posted by BibiRose at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2012

Three Men In A Boat would be my recommendation. It's gentle, engaging and still laugh out loud funny after more than a century.

Not sure about Life of Pi. There are multiple ways of reading the final chapter of that book and while one of them is uplifting, the other definitely isn't. I'd be more explicit, but I don't want to spoil anybody.
posted by the latin mouse at 10:55 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My go to for comfort reading is Sophie Kinsella. I would suggest The Undomestic Goddess to start.
posted by Laura_J at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2012

I also came to recommend Laurie Colwin, especially her Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. It seems like reading about food during pregnancy would be awful, but when I was pregnant the first time, I read those constantly, and could fairly consistently find something in them that sounded like what I wanted to eat right then. It was almost magical.

I also reread the whole Little House series, as well as all the Anne of Green Gables books. Pregnancy is an awesome time to hunt down all your childhood favorites and reread them, somehow. I think that I also reread most of the Enid Blyton books, some of the Nancy Drews... it was great.
posted by MeghanC at 12:01 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Bear Who Went Over The Mountain was charming and a nice, easy read.

Not sure about Life of Pi. There are multiple ways of reading the final chapter of that book and while one of them is uplifting, the other definitely isn't. I'd be more explicit, but I don't want to spoil anybody.

I completely agree. Life of Pi is not a book about "nice things happening to positive happy people." It is definitely a page-turner, though.
posted by Flamingo at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If she liked Philip Pullman's writing, but not the metaphysics of the later His Dark Materials, she would probably enjoy Pullman's Sally Lockhart series, which are Victorian girl detective novels and quite delightful.

How about Madeline L'Engle? If she feels like fantasy/science fiction, the Kairos series; and if not, the Chronos series. Both sets of books are about really great loving families with stellar amazing children, and while I've never been pregnant, I can only imagine they'd be ideal.

Also, seconding L. M. Montgomery. The Blue Castle is one of my favourite books ever, and I also really love the later Anne books--Anne's House of Dreams is my favourite. If she gets frustrated by reading things she's seen the movie version of, she could easily start at any point in the series and still enjoy them. I've never read the first trilogy, but read and loved all the rest as a kid. Jane of Lantern Hill is another L. M. Montgomery stand-alone that has stood the test of time for me.
posted by snorkmaiden at 4:09 PM on July 2, 2012

Robin McKinley is also very feel-good. I really enjoy her fairytale retellings, particularly Beauty. Chalice and Sunshine are both good, and a bit more adult-oriented.
posted by snorkmaiden at 4:12 PM on July 2, 2012

Margery Sharp's Miss Bianca series is out of fashion now, but it's very fine and holds up well for the adult reader - some of the jokes I only get now.
Frances Hodgsen Burnett, The Secret Garden
The Westing Game
The Phantom Tollbooth
101 Dalmatians
The Wind in the Willows
Anne of Green Gables is wonderful. The Emily of New Moon series, by the same author, is also great.
Daddy Long Legs, Jean Webster
Cheaper by the Dozen

I love Little House, but really terrible things happen CONSTANTLY.

Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series
I Capture the Castle, charmingest romance novel ever. In a similar vein, I also enjoyed The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets.
Marjorie Morningstar. This is a coming of age novel that I find compulsively rereadable. WWII is going on in the background , but nearly all the plot is about courtship and Marjorie's quest to become an actress. The author's values are very old-fashioned, so that might be an issue.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 4:49 PM on July 2, 2012

It sounds like she would really enjoy the novels of Barbara Trapido. They are beautifully written and populated with flawed yet totally lovable characters - I find them impossible to put down and was totally absorbed from the first page. They are definitely literature, not light fiction, yet they are still intensely pleasurable to read curled up on the couch with some chocolate close to hand. She has six novels which the same characters pop up in so it's worth reading them in the same order. They should keep your wife going for a couple of weeks.
posted by Wantok at 4:50 PM on July 2, 2012

The Night Circus is nicely written, has stunning descriptions of magical realism unfurling within a well-constructed world, and is amazingly emotionally tepid. It is my go-to recommendation for times when you want to read but are feeling a bit fragile.
posted by redsparkler at 7:27 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Sophie Kinsella. Marian Keyes and Jane Green are also good for this.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:28 PM on July 2, 2012

Yes to Georgette Heyer (except the one titled Barren Corn)

If she would like stories about animals etc then Gerald Durrell and James Herriott books are a good bet. Generally light and humorous.
posted by latch24 at 1:04 AM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you everyone, I'm filling up my on-line basket with some really lovely sounding books.

My wife's been reading through this page too, she's been really touched by everyone's great suggestions.
posted by ben30 at 1:07 AM on July 3, 2012

I second the Jennifer Weiner suggestion with one very important exception -- she should not read Certain Girls. There's a plot twist in there that felt like a gut punch to me, and would feel even worse for someone who is coming to the book with your wife's expectations. Avoid it at all costs!

If your wife enjoys Jane Austen, she might like Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, by Fay Weldon. I can also recommend Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:44 AM on July 3, 2012

I love Poisonwood Bible, it's one of my favourite novels, but has major DEATH, PLAGUE and more DEATH. Even if a profound final catharsis, but not for right now.
posted by Augenblick at 3:34 PM on July 3, 2012

Seconding anything at all by Barbara Pym. But maybe especially A Glass of Blessings.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:47 PM on July 3, 2012

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