There are a lot of ways I gauge how I’m doing emotionally, but the major one is how I feel about reading. I know it’s a bad day when nothing catches me, when I read ten pages of four different books and my brain still won’t quiet enough to listen, or else it pays so little attention that the words becoming meaningless and I reread paragraphs without understanding any better.
On the other hand, I know it’s a good day when I lust after the words. I can’t describe it any other way. I find something with meat and I get so excited that I can’t think about anything else. It doesn’t matter where I actually am because I disappear into the story, leaving my anxiety or sadness on the floor next to my shoes. It’s days like those I really understand why Scout says she doesn’t love reading, but those are also the days I love it like I love to breathe.
In the last year, it feels like there have been far more of the first kind of days than the latter, but the good news is that they aren’t all so extreme. There are days I wouldn’t start anything rich, but since I began a book the day before, I can coast on that excitement and continue to enjoy it. Then there are the times my mind refuses to settle down if I ask it to interpret symbolism or engage in something heavy, but if I am gentle with it, I can coax it into being read a simple story, like reading a child to sleep. These are the days I’m in the mood for something “light and fluffy.”
I just finished a month of being in that place, so I have several suggestions in case you (or your favorite bookworm) are ever in a similar mood.
- Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I had a lot of feelings about this book. Audrey has crippling social anxiety and it has changed the lives of her entire family. But she is getting better, so when she meets Linus, her therapist encourages her to learn to socialize with someone outside her family again. This may not sound all that fluffy, but it is a YA novel, so the characters develop really quickly and easily and the romance is right from the beginning. It doesn’t sugarcoat how hard life is for her or ignore how medication is useful for mental illness, but all the good guys get a happy ending. She also highlights the difference between someone who hurts a person because they misunderstand the situation but is actually trying to help and someone who hurts a person and refuses to take responsibility for it. In the real world that can be much less cut-and-dry, but it sure feels good to read about.
- Remembrance by Meg Cabot. I literally waited a year for this book. It’s the continuation of the Mediator series I grew up with, and it was nice to be reunited with those characters. If I had been in a different mood, I may have enjoyed it less because Emily was right: after four years, the characters SHOULD have grown up a little a more. Plus, despite the fact that Suze was working an unpaid internship, it felt like everything worked out a little too easily. But at the time, that was exactly what I needed, so I’m not going to complain now.
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. This one was a little harder than the rest. There are a lot of Christian references and parallels, the language is older, AND my copy of the book was literally falling apart in my hands. But it’s a cute little story with some fun magic, plus its rules about what a prince or princess should and should not do are very sweet while still being empowering. The princess holds herself to a higher standard and the narrator applauds that as she is royalty. But when Curdie acts like a prince by refusing to rest until he has righted his wrong, the narrator credits him with that and calls him one, even though he’s a miner by trade.
- Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié. This is part of the Once Upon a Time series, which I love because it gives fairy-tales a new twist. (No relation except WAY BETTER than the tv show of the same name.) This one is the story of the Little Mermaid, but focused more on friendship and family than romance. It’s about figuring out who you are and trusting yourself, and it’s all jammed into a couple hundred magic-filled pages. And in the end, like any good fluff book, the enemy is defeated and the heroes ride into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Classics are important for the view they give us of the time they were written in as well as the timeless message that rated it a spot in literary canon. (Just never read On the Road. I’m serious.) Likewise, modern literature that forces you to ask questions and think deeply are valuable because it can change a person’s worldview and consequently their life. But sometimes you just need something that’s going to make you happy, something soft and warm and easy. There is no shame in reading something just for fun, and there is no harm in a feel-good piece of fluff either.
What’s your favorite book for “Easy-Reading?”
Come back Thursday to hear about a book with some meat.