Books like Anne of Green Gables and Jurassic Park
September 7, 2017 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I need new books to read! These are two separate recommendations I'm looking for (but if you know of a book like both Anne of Green Gables and Jurassic Park, I'll buy it in an instant).

So since the election I've been pretty much only able to read two kinds of books - serious comfort/security blanket type books, and cheesy thrillers.

I've read the Anne of Green Gables series twice since November (it's one of my all time favorites) and I'm now rereading the earlier Redwall books. I'm planning on going back to the Little House on the Prairie series after that, and maybe the Green Knowe books. What else should I read? Books that are cozy, with some peril but not a ton, not super present in the real world.

And cheesy thrillers! I have been reading or rereading a ton of John Grisham and Michael Crichton. I love legal thrillers, but Grisham is kind of the top of the heap and I'm not sure who to read next. Jurassic Park is like the quintessential example of books I want to devour right now - action, hand-wave-y science, very silly if you look at it too closely. Googling "authors like Michael Crichton" or "authors like John Grisham" tend to turn up a lot of crime novels with very generic descriptions so I figured I'd turn to you guys for better help. (I do like some crime novels, particularly Michael Connelly and Tess Gerritsen, but I'm not interested in ones with lots of violence against women, which is a ton of them.) Thank you!!
posted by skycrashesdown to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
If you're ok with wizards and that sort of thing, the Discworld series is very cozy and charming (and there are tons of books in it, so it'll last you for a while if you get into it).

I tend to think about Watership Down as being a somewhat more sophisticated take on Redwall, but it is sad, so may not be exactly what you're looking for. The Rats of NIMH is trilogy in that general vein that I remember enjoying around the same time I read Redwall and all your other favorites.

John Scalzi does a good adventure in space - see what you think of the Old Man's War series.
posted by snaw at 7:20 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

For your cozy itch, try Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow. Incredibly sweet and civilized and a delicious read.

I also very recently finished The Heart's Invisible Furies, by John Boyne, and found it a warm and loving story about fighting to the death to let people (specific individuals) realize their true selves.
posted by janey47 at 7:23 AM on September 7, 2017

The Flavia de Luce novels have a little of each in them. The first in the series is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia's family lives in England and the books take place just after WWII. There is a murder or death in each book and Flavia usually solves the case. She is a smart and sassy girl.
posted by soelo at 7:24 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Have you read other L. M. Montgomery books? For whatever reason, they seem to be coming up in conversation a lot lately. Several of my friends have been rereading the Emily books but I keep trying to shove them at The Blue Castle instead. The Betsy/Tacy books also scratch some of the Anne itch for me.
posted by Stacey at 7:24 AM on September 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

These sorts of comforting books are what I read over and over and over when I get homesick during fieldwork. Anne of Green Gables and Little House are right in my wheelhouse, so let me also suggest:

My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett (Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith in particular)
Tamora Pierce's series (especially Protector of the Small, but also the Alanna books, the Immortals, the Becca Cooper books, and Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen
The Enchanted Forest books by Patricia Wrede - Dealing With Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons.
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon scratches this itch for me as well.
Beauty, Rose Daughter, Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

As far as handwavy kind of silly thrillers/crime, Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme books are occasionally perfect for this. My personal favorite is The Vanished Man, which spends a lot of time playing with misdirection and magic. Some of them (the Bone Collector, Stone Monkey) get grim and/or gruesome, but they're good.

You might also enjoy Mary Roach's books, particularly Bonk, Stiff, and Packing for Mars. I'd avoid Grunt.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:25 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

The first Dinotopia book is a leisurely, meandering story with beautiful artwork. And dinosaurs.

Off to write my "Canadian orphan clones dinosaurs" novel.
posted by lharmon at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh - if you like Little Women, you might also like Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. I also really enjoyed Edith Wharton's books (except Ethan Frome, THE WORST BOOK EVER) - very mannerly dramatics in High Society in the teens and 20s.

Looking through my fieldwork kindle, I also want to highlight -
The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society
Palisades Park by Alan Brennert
Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
posted by ChuraChura at 7:31 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

A short story: 3 Truths and a Lie by Lisa Gardner.

I often combine thriller and mystery/crime stories into one mega-genre. They are inseparable in my psyche. My hope is that this recommendation will not be too far outside your boundaries.

Give it a try if you can find the book or audiobook at your local library.
posted by mr_bovis at 7:42 AM on September 7, 2017

The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency is my favorite comfort book. Quite funny in a low key way.
Really well written, too, IMO.
posted by M. at 7:51 AM on September 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seconding Robin McKinley's Beauty, and adding her The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.
Seconding Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and adding Neverwhere.
Also, the Booky series, set in the Depression.
An older book: Tea with the Black Dragon.
Andy Weir's The Martian was a bit technical for me, but I thought it was good. He has a new book coming out in November called Artemis, which might work for you. There is a plot summary here.
Finally, Pride and Prejudice is a serious comfort read for me, though it does not work that way for everyone (and, firmly in kid book territory, but I still reread The Phantom Tollbooth now and again).
posted by gudrun at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

These aren't about girls but, to me, they have the same feel as the ones you mentioned.

The Door in The Wall by Marguerite De Angell

Howl's Moving Castle I love this book! (And you can watch the movie once you're done!) The characters are so quirky and funny and they do a good job of taking care of each other.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

For some vaguely supernatural mystery-thrillers of the hand-wavy variety, look no further than the Agent Aloysius Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
posted by xyzzy at 9:07 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've added a series recently to my comfort-books library: The Miss Fisher Murder Mystery 20-book series, set in 1920s Australia, rich young woman who sets up as a lady detective in Melbourne. Author is Kerry Greenwood. She's also written a contemporary Melbourne 6-book series about a woman baker who lives in an apartment building filled with nicely eccentric inhabitants. Both series are ongoing (there was a tv series of Miss Fisher, which was great but the books are better).
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:07 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have very similar taste in books. Came in to recommend Betsy-Tacy for comfort, and then also I loved the Margaret Truman Capital Crimes series. They are murder, so I don't know if that's too much to not be comforting.
posted by freezer cake at 9:23 AM on September 7, 2017

For some vaguely supernatural mystery-thrillers of the hand-wavy variety, look no further than the Agent Aloysius Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I heart Jurassic Park 5ever and also really love the Pendergast series (and other Preston + Child books). I'm reading Riptide right now actually.
posted by phunniemee at 10:06 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, I think you'd love A Gentleman in Moscow! I just finished reading that, and it's the coziest, most charming thing—plus it's long, so you can sink into it for a while.

Seconding the recommendations for all of the Tamora Pierce books, Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and trying other L.M. Montgomery novels, particularly the Emily books and The Blue Castle. Like the Anne books, these were all favourites from my childhood that I re-read every few years, and even though several are fantasy books they have a very similar flavour to Anne's quiet, heartwarming escapades.

If you don't mind light fantasy in your comedies of manners, might I recommend Good Omens, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and Sorcerer to the Crown? These are all books in which nothing much happens for pages and pages, drama-wise, but everyone is consistently delightful and funny. In Good Omens especially the threat level is very low, and the cozy-fun level very high. The latter two are styled upon Regency novels, if you like Jane Austen.

Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series and Howl's Moving Castle books might suit you. They're fantasy adventures with plenty of that coziness that classic British children's stories have. I thought of these because you mentioned liking thrillers, and Diana Wynne Jones is fantastic at plotting—her stories zip along and drag you with them.

84, Charing Cross Road.

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell: a series of interconnected stories about lovely elderly folks in a small English country town, 19th century. Feels very safe, and is full of good people.
posted by stellarc at 10:36 AM on September 7, 2017

My Side of the Mountain by Jean George
A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson
The Alice books by Lewis Carroll

My two comfort reads are the Sherlock Holmes series (childhood nostalgia) and Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. It's a very gentle coming of age from a different time and place.
posted by ficbot at 11:10 AM on September 7, 2017

Like Anne of Green Gables:

Pollyanna series
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

I love the Anne series too, and I found both these to be absolutely delightful.
posted by Everydayville at 12:55 PM on September 7, 2017

(but if you know of a book like both Anne of Green Gables and Jurassic Park, I'll buy it in an instant)

I haven't read it but the first thing I thought of was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, maybe someone else can confirm if it would be up your alley.
posted by yeahlikethat at 1:09 PM on September 7, 2017

Also I really like Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books for comfort reading.
posted by yeahlikethat at 1:12 PM on September 7, 2017

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
posted by vunder at 2:37 PM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think I find similar types of books comforting. I don't know quite why thrillers are so relaxing but they are in a weird way. Most of my recommendations are going to be on the comforting side though.

If you can handle a bit of Christianity, I recommend Elizabeth Goudge - try The Little White Horse, which is still in print; my favourite of hers, The Blue Hills (sometimes known as Henrietta's House), sadly is not. Also a perennial comfort reread, with a similar innocent kind of Christianity, Heidi by Johanna Spyri.

Okay I was going to give you links to all of these but it turns out I have a huge number of recommendations and not quite enough time to do all the hyperlinks, but they should be easy enough to find!

Elizabeth Enright has a wonderful series about the Melendy family which is just perfect (start with The Saturdays, there's 4 or 5 in the series) plus there is Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away and a standalone, Thimble Summer.

Edward Eager has some really nice kids' books involving mild adventure and time travel which are good fun.

Mandy by Julie Andrews is a sweet book about an orphan who finds an abandoned cottage and remakes it and lots of other Anne-type things happen.

Noel Streatfeild's Shoes series (Skating Shoes, Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes are the ones I remember) are great warm, fuzzy British comfort reads.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's classics The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.

E Nesbit did lovely funny kids adventure books like Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet which are great.

Pretty much anything at all by Diana Wynne Jones. She is one of my number one go-to comfort reads. Hard to pick a place to start, maybe Archer's Goon or Charmed Life.

If you like manga at all, I highly recommend Yotsuba, which is about a 4/5-year -old girl and her really small adventures with her dad and the neighbours next door that are just delightful.

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series. There are quite a few of them. Messing about in boats, birds, exploration, make-believe. Good fun.

Also comforting though not kids' books: Georgette Heyer's regency novels, James Herriot's tales of life as a Yorkshire vet (All Creatures Great & Small).

I was going to try to recommend cozy mysteries and suitable thrillers but I think I may have gone on long enough! Thanks for the post, I think I will indulge in some of these myself. I could use a good comfort read.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:54 PM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

On my comfort bookshelf:
A Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
Mandy by Julie Edwards
Beauty and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle
An Imaginative Experience by Mary Wesley
Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
posted by Princess Leopoldine Grassalkovich nee Esterhazy at 7:09 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

A Girl of The Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter is a really sweet coming of age story like Anne of Green Gables. There's some light angst in places, but nothing too taxing.

Of course, almost any book by Jane Austen but most especially either Emma or Northanger Abbey, since they're both highly comical.
posted by katyggls at 11:15 PM on September 7, 2017

Eleanor Estes
Sydney Taylor
Margaret Sidney
Meindert de Jong
posted by brujita at 12:47 AM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you thought of the Wizard of Oz books? So different from the movie. I can think of at least three.
posted by kathrynm at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2017

Response by poster: You guys are all wonderful people and I love you. There are definitely some things on here that I didn't mention but that I love and have or will shortly reread (Jane Austen, Phantom Tollbooth, Diana Wynne Jones, Patricia C. Wrede, Wizard of Oz books), but there is so much on here I haven't read and can't wait to get to. I have a vacation coming up and am planning on putting a ton of these on my Kindle. Thank you!
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:26 AM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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