Niche book recommendation request
April 24, 2018 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I am traveling today to go take care of an injured family member. I’m realistically not going to be getting much work done from the airport. Looking for gentle book recommendations for the flight.

I am specifically looking for gentle stories where the main character is NOT in a drawn-out psychologically suspenseful situation. Moments of quick action are fine (e.g., Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are scuffling with bad guys!) but anything protracted or cat-and-mouse is not (e.g.,
the Inspector Gamache books with the Arnot case subplot). I like detective stories, police procedurals, and anything medical. Fantasy is okay, sci fi not so much. Published fiction and fan fiction are both great, but if it’s fanfic I’d like it to be on the longer side.
posted by coppermoss to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You might try A Morbid Taste For Bones. The Brother Cadfael series is really soothing, and there's only like 21 of them, so plenty of it.
posted by msamye at 7:46 AM on April 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

For detective stories, you might like cosy mysteries. I like Donna Andrews and a few books about Women Who Have Cats In Small Towns, but there are all kinds of themes. (Dogs, quilts, knitting, embroidery, witches, you name it.)
posted by jeather at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mystery novels might work, like And Be A Villain. The suspense is pretty muted by modern standards. The only one that wouldn't do (which is a pity, as it's one of the better ones) is Prisoner's Base.
posted by praemunire at 8:01 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Vish Puri is a detective, set in Delhi. I find them quite light, and rather delightful.
posted by Ftsqg at 8:06 AM on April 24, 2018

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of gentle mysteries set in Botswana.
posted by belladonna at 8:09 AM on April 24, 2018 [7 favorites]

Kerry Greenwood's Earthly Delights series. These are cosy mysteries about a baker and a community of slightly eccentric people. Very gentle and warm.

Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple series. Cosy mysteries set in the 1920s, quite short.

Maybe Kate Ellis's police procedurals set in Devon, starting with The Merchant's House. These are fairly gentle though obviously there are murders, the methods of which can be a bit gruesome sometimes. There is always a linked archaeological investigation so depends on your tolerance for historical mystery.

Seconding Donna Andrews and Ellis Peters.

If older mysteries would work for you - Ngaio Marsh (maybe Death at the Dolphin) perhaps, Patricia Wentworth definitely (maybe Lonesome Road or Through the Wall).

Most of the fantasy I can think of has too much going on or too much psychology. In medical, maybe Call the Midwife, the memoir by Jennifer Worth that the BBC television series was based on.

If straight lit is ok, Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford may be the ur-text for gentle.

Best of luck, hope your family member recovers well and you don't get too knackered.
posted by paduasoy at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lisa Lutz's Spellman series is gonna do you right.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:48 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Two widowers from different cultures fall in love in a gossipy, xenophobic English village. It's smart, funny, and engaging, but gentle.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Three Bags Full in which a flock of sheep set out to find their shepherd's murderer.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 10:27 AM on April 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wish I could favourite Constance Mirabella's recommendation for Three Bags Full a thousand times. It's imaginative and hilarious and gentle.

You might also try Louise Penny's Armand Gamache novels (I recommend starting at the beginning) or Gail Bowen's Joanne Kilbourn books (again, read in order is ideal).

Vaseem Khan's Inspector Chopra mysteries are delightful and gentle. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is the first in that series.
posted by Amy NM at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Least of All Possible Mistakes is my favorite fanfic ever. It is Holmes/Watson, so you may enjoy.
posted by tooloudinhere at 10:39 AM on April 24, 2018

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are great but I would steer you slightly away from And Be A Villain, as mentioned above - while it's not hugely present in that book, it's the beginning of a three-part longer and more drawn-out suspenseful situation that isn't resolved in that first book. For Nero Wolfe, I would go with Champagne for One, The Doorbell Rang, or Murder by the Book.
posted by darchildre at 11:00 AM on April 24, 2018

the cat who mysteries by lilian jackson braun are small town mysteries with about as much danger as an episode of scooby doo. the protagonist is a charming unmarried reporter who relocates from the big city and his two cats- one of whom seems to possess supernatural awareness of what's going on. it's read by old ladies (and their grandsons, apparently).

you can pick one of 'em up in any used book store, doesn't really matter too much where you start.
posted by noloveforned at 11:16 AM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

nthing Kerry Greenwood (she also writes the Miss Fisher mysteries, which you might enjoy).
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:19 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fantasy: I haven't read this, but have just seen a review of MCA Hogarth’s Dreamhealers series which calls it "a quiet and domestic set of stories ... It’s about people supporting each other, and it has a bedrock of kindness that’s damn reassuring and refreshing to read. Dreamstorm isn’t a story of dramatic action, but sometimes quieter stories of smaller significance are important, too.".
posted by paduasoy at 12:34 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

fantasy: Steven Brust's 'The Phoenix Guards' - it's the three musketeers, only in elfland. The elves aren't twee. There's affairs of the heart, court politics, and swordfights. I compulsively reread it.

There's no scandinavian-mystery type brutal bits or unhappy-family-members-in-an-old-house-arguing type anxiety-generating bits.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2018

I love the two Lock In books by mefi's own jscalzi. I like the second book more, and it's possible to read it on its own, but starting with the first book will make more sense. They're police procedurals, and there are fights and violence but it isn't gruesome and it's more like procedure, procedure, procedure, WHAM! A FIGHT! procedure, procedure, KAPOW! CHRIS HAS BEEN HIT BY A CAR ONCE AGAIN, procedure. They have the relaxing qualities I like in procedurals, but more humor than that subgenre sometimes has.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:29 PM on April 28, 2018

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