Delightful Delightful Reads
October 2017

As those of you who have perused my website may know, “Delightful Reads” are intelligent, well-written, well plotted novels with convincing characters. They hit that sweet spot between being too superficial and too difficult. Delightful Reads come in two flavors: “Light but Literate” and “Serious but Not Pedantic.”

Although they are hard to find, I have been—well, delighted—to have come across several recently published books that perfectly exemplify my “Light But Literate” genre—truly “Delightful” Reads.

  • Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.  A lighthearted and lovely story of a 30-year-old woman, just dumped, who comes home to take care of her father who has Alzheimer’s. Told in diary format, in spare and startling prose, a quirky, heartwarming story of love, loss, and memory.
  • Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel. A wise and witty tale satirizing the crazy world of Manhattan private schools, competitive parenting, clueless kids, and dealing thoughtfully with how people cope with rejections.
  • They Don’t Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine. An intergenerational comedy of manners about family, loss, aging and resilience. Full of astute psychological perceptions and humor to leaven heartbreaks.  See also . . .
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Rather whimsical story of a Russian aristocrat, who becomes a “Former Person” in the USSR and is sentenced, improbably enough, to house arrest in Moscow’s luxurious Metropol hotel, where, notes an NPR review “he lives out his days decorating the dining room with his bon mots and dashing around like Eloise, if Eloise were set in a twee version of Stalinist Russia.” Towles’ book, Rules of Civility, is even better.
  • Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe. A delightful story of growing up and of growing old, about a young teenager who takes a job in an old folks’ home full of eccentric characters. The book is an “original blend of compassion and dark comedy.” (Irish Times) Stibbe’s previous book, Man at the Helm, is even better. Read more here.
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. As part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels based on the major plays, Anne Tyler has tamed the Bard’s shrewish battle of the sexes into a far more politically correct “screwball comedy of manners that actually channels Jane Austen more than Shakespeare.” (NPR)  See also . . .

I would love to hear of any other “Light but Literate” books you can recommend!