Books to fall asleep to?
May 5, 2019 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Recently I’ve been having trouble falling asleep, and something that seems to help is winding down with books that are easy to read (not intellectually or emotionally taxing) and entertaining, but not so entertaining that I can’t put them down. Any recommendations?

Recently I read High Rising by Angela Thirkell, which fit the bill perfectly: funny enough that I laughed out loud a few times, with likable, somewhat flat characters I didn’t care *too* much about, simple but inoffensive prose, a low-stakes plot, and a happy ending. Bonus points for taking place in a quaint English village.

Oh, and I should add that I’d like to steer away from any upsetting subject matter (poverty, mental illness, abuse, etc.). Thank you!
posted by aaadddaaa to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
For more quaint Englishness, how about James Herriot stories?
posted by lakeroon at 4:04 PM on May 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? If you have and you enjoyed it, you might like a continuation called A Constant Love by Sophie Turner. I find them well written and gentle.

There are three books in the series at the moment with more planned. They're all available on Kindle Unlimited.
posted by poxandplague at 4:04 PM on May 5, 2019

It's been a while since I went looking for them on audio, but James Herriott's All Creatures Great And Small stories (there are like four large-dictionary-sized volumes of accumulated stories) that, aside from the occasional not-gory pet/livestock loss are generally stories about people who are real characters. And each story is pretty short, so if you fall asleep you may miss several stories but not any critical plot points.

The Harry Potter books have amazing narration (either Jim Dale or Stephen Fry, depending on where you are and your audiobook options) that is also pretty soothing.

David Sedaris's books are also collections of fairly brief stories, and they're funny and engaging but you could probably make your way through the same book 10 times and hit a story you haven't heard before each time. Me Talk Pretty One Day is the usual entry point.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:08 PM on May 5, 2019

If you think you might enjoy a celebration of the good things about the English public school system, take a look at RF Delderfield's To Serve Them All My Days.

Delderfield is a great storyteller, a master of straightforward prose, and his books have tremendous warmth.
posted by jamjam at 6:20 PM on May 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I recently picked up A Crafter Knits a Clue and this was exactly that for me. Apparently, knitting mysteries are a thing, because I just found another very similar book by a completely different author (Dyeing up Loose Ends which I have not yet read, but it has a identical aura)? I see the term "cozy mystery" a lot, which, if this book was a good example, is probably exactly what you're looking for.

Gods Behaving Badly also hit that "funny, but with somewhat flat characters, low-stakes plot, and a happy ending" spot for me, if you're into something fantasyish.
posted by brook horse at 6:48 PM on May 5, 2019

Maybe Breakfast of Champions?
posted by Rash at 8:38 PM on May 5, 2019

This is a fantastic question, as I've been looking for the same. Books that are good, but not *too* good to read before bed. Some that hit that spot for me recently:

Hillbilly Elegy
The Only Rule Is It Has to Work
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Dark Tower series (halfway through Book 2) is so far plodding enough that I don't have trouble putting it down

Light non-fiction seems to work well for me, in general, because there aren't generally cliffhanger ending to chapters that make me say "just one more . . ."
posted by chrisamiller at 9:04 PM on May 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Of course, P.G.Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster series is right up there if you've not already enjoyed the hijinks and capers.

For non English village reading, Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie series featuring Chet , a dog, as an unreliable narrator is a fun set of detective mysteries.
posted by mightshould at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2019

Every now and then I'll get in a habit of reading old fairy tales before bed, from these big collections of Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson stories I've had since I was a kid. (Although Anderson is probably too depressing for your criteria, TBH.)

In general, my best bets for this are always books/stories I've already read before. Even with the lamest plots, I still feel compelled to keep reading and find out What Happens, but when I already KNOW what happens I can just read til I get sleepy and then set it down with no angst.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:03 AM on May 6, 2019

I like the suggestion of P.G. Wodehouse, but to meet your criterion of not being too entertaining, his school stories might be a solid fit. I've definitely read at least one of them--I'm not 100% sure which, and as far as I know it doesn't matter a lot--and it was a pleasant, easy read. Your other criteria (occasionally funny, low stakes plot, happy ending, and quaint English setting) were all met too. Bonus: they're generally in the public domain now, so you can try them out for free. The Jeeves and Wooster stories in which Bertie narrates are orders of magnitude better though--those I remember very clearly--so the school stories aren't a basis for an opinion of the author.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:23 PM on May 6, 2019

For more quaint Englishness that sidesteps upsetting matters in the Thirkell vein, I recommend D. E. Stevenson (especially Miss Buncle's Book and sequels) and Miss Read. If you explore the also-boughts on various of their books, you should find other authors who write similarly.
posted by telophase at 2:06 PM on May 7, 2019

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