Light, Humorous, Feelgood Books for Cancer Patient and Family
June 23, 2014 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Dad's got cancer and the whole family (readers all) are looking for some book recommendations that are light, humorous without being wacky, and immersive. We've got a lot of time to sit around and worry. Thanks!
posted by bluejayway to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
David Sedaris books fit that bill for me.
posted by fontophilic at 9:52 AM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also Bill Bryson - particularly The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Walk in the Woods, and The Lost Continent. He also writes more serious non-fiction, which is good, but perhaps not what you're looking for.

During a similar situation, I reread all the Harry Potter books. They were comfortable, familiar, and still engrossing enough to take my mind off things for a bit.
posted by Lizlemondrop at 9:55 AM on June 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Bill Bryson books have always filled that need for me.
posted by mattholomew at 9:55 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Stuart Mclean's Vinyl Cafe books are often light, humorous and family oriented.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:59 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just got done with Sorcery and Cecilia, Or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - the plot is a little bit lightweight, but it was very charming.

I also like James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks ("The Cold Duke was six feet four and forty-six and even colder than he thought he was") and The White Deer. They're both very funny. The facsimile edition of Thirteen Clocks is great, in particular. When you read the plot summaries, you may think that they err a bit on the side of "wacky", but they're written in a very dry voice and are not intended to be wacky-zany-goofy.
posted by Frowner at 9:59 AM on June 23, 2014

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat. Lighthearted Victorian novel about three men on a boating trip up a river. Very funny, and a classic for a reason.

Betty McDonald wrote (lightly fictionalized) accounts of being an egg farmer in the 1930s, going through the Depression, and living on Vashon Island in the 40s and 50s (also getting tuberculosis in the 30s, but I'd skip that one). Very funny, and full of delicious descriptions of food, if that's of interest.

Thirding Bill Bryson.
posted by pie ninja at 10:00 AM on June 23, 2014

You might also enjoy Angela Carter's Wise Children - of all her books, it is the sunniest. Wikipedia tells me that Carter wrote it after she had been diagnosed with cancer, which I did not know. I'll tip you off right now in case you do decide to read it - SPOILER -

there are several sad moments in the book, but later they are proved to be based on false information.

Oh, and if you like Three Men In A Boat, you should also read Connie Willis's To Say Nothing Of The Dog. I laughed and laughed at that one.

And the Jeeves and Wooster books - I particularly like Right Ho, Jeeves.
posted by Frowner at 10:11 AM on June 23, 2014

I love the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot. Edit: Actually, on second thought, some of those stories involve the deaths of animals, so maybe this isn't really the best choice for your purpose.
posted by alex1965 at 10:18 AM on June 23, 2014

Along the lines of Herriot but a little more humerous is Gerald Durrel's My Family and Other Animals. Sweet, funny, and interesting.
posted by Specklet at 10:51 AM on June 23, 2014

For kids books, we are looooooving Willow the Whale. If you get on iPad or iPhone, the narration is fun.

If you want to snark, the Sweet Valley high books are hilarious. So are the Twilight books. There're also a bunch of super manly sci fi books by James Patterson in need of a good group mocking. Make a memory and tease bad writing!
posted by spunweb at 11:26 AM on June 23, 2014

I like the discworld series by Terry Pratchett for these purposes - there are about 40 books in the series. You can totally immerse yourselves in the universe, or you can pick and choose sub-series (recommended: witches, city watch) if you're not up for all the books. On the face of it, the series may seem "wacky" but it's actually much deeper and more thoughtful than it appears at first glance.
posted by snaw at 11:46 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any of the many books by Patrick McManus.
posted by megatherium at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2014

I'd like to recommend Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals. It's a post-war story from the point of view of a young boy whose eccentric family flee England to live in sunny Greece. It's light and full of funny pieces interspersed with some very beautiful passages describing life on Corfu and other Greek islands. It's not really a kids book, but kids do tend to like it.

And the best thing is, if it turns out to be popular, there's two or three more directly after it. Durrell has written a number of books about is experiences as a zoo-keeper, naturalist and eventually zoo-owner, but I think these books have not aged as well as the Corfu ones.
posted by ninazer0 at 3:53 PM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Gervase Phinn wrote a few funny books about being a school inspector in Yorkshire. It looks like he's expanded into novels, but I haven't read those.
posted by hoyland at 5:20 PM on June 23, 2014

3rding Gerald Durrell.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:43 PM on June 23, 2014

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