Patron Picks: Gentle Reads

by Kristi S.

One of my favorite things about working in a library is seeing all the new books coming in. Unfortunately, my eyes are too big for my reading speed and I often find myself returning piles of titles that have gone unread. So I’m always grateful when I can talk with patrons about the books I haven’t gotten to read, or might never pick up personally. My world is instantly widened when I listen.

Since I work for Library on Wheels, I get the unique privilege of talking to people of all ages about the books they love. I have ecstatic preschoolers running to me with Pigeon books clutched in their arms, tweens laughing over their favorite graphic novels, and older adults discussing the authors and stories that get them through days that are often lonely and long. There’s no greater joy than seeing the smile on someone’s face when you bring them exactly what they want.

This summer, most of the older adults I visit were craving gentle and heartwarming stories. Happy endings are a must, and a little light romance or mystery is always welcome. I asked some of my patrons to tell me their favorite gentle reads from this summer, and they came through with a wide variety.


Marlene loves reading about life on the frontier, and has been enjoying the My Heart Belongs series. Her favorite so far is My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California, which takes place during the California Gold Rush. This homespun and spirited novel is about a determined English socialite who sets out to find her mother, but instead finds herself out of money and stranded in a mining town. Marlene says the historical detail and well-described setting transported her.

Janice is a big fan of Julie Klassen, and enjoyed listening to The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill this summer. This is an engaging and heartwarming story of a widow who, with the help of her unpleasant mother-in-law, works to save her inn, and the town. Janice thinks Klassen is an excellent and thoughtful writer, and her lush descriptions of an English Village paint a detailed picture in her mind.


Janet cannot get enough of the Magical Cats cozy mysteries by Sofie Kelly. She is anxiously awaiting the next installment, and could not stop laughing when describing A Tale of Two Kitties. In this series, two unusual cats help librarian Kathleen Paulson solve small-town crimes. According to Janet, this installment is laugh-out-loud funny and a leisurely whodunit.

Anita spent her childhood in the Midwest before her family packed up everything and drove to Washington. She loved going back to her roots by listening to With Heart by Dorothy Garlock. This is a story about a fiercely independent woman who is optimistic about her career in journalism but soon becomes entrenched in the town’s dirty secrets. Anita loved the Depression-era setting, well-defined characters, and the fast-paced combination of suspense and romance.

And a Little Romance.

Charlotte worked her way through the Angel Island series by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer. Starting with The Inn at Angel Island, this heartwarming and romantic series follows Liza Martin as she leaves her busy city life behind to run an inn on an enchanting and cozy island. Charlotte loved the light romance and charming setting, and quickly devoured all the books in this series. She’s moving on to the Cape Light series next.

Evelyn reads every novel of the Amish she can get her hands on. She loves that they show characters who face hardship, but find strength in their faith and community. The Road Home by Beverly Lewis was a particular favorite this year, centering on a young woman who reluctantly leaves her siblings for a new community. Evelyn loved the characters and found the story inspiring.

Those are just a few of the gentle novels I’ve gotten to hear about this year. Check out this list for more suggestions from the people I visit and leave a comment with your favorite gentle read! I’m always looking for something new to put a smile on someone’s face.

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7 responses to “Patron Picks: Gentle Reads”

  1. Karen Pickard says:

    So nicely written Kristi! And since I work with you on a cart route, I know for a fact that you have a gift for selecting that “just perfect” title for putting smiles on faces. I’ve seen it in action.

  2. John S says:

    Agreed well written and informative, it’s nice there are people in the world that truly care about others and work hard to make their lives better. What a nice service to provide!

  3. Heather O. says:

    I enjoy reading cozies when I need a break from my stack of mystery and suspense books. I just finished the “Bookmobile Cat Mystery” series by Laurie Cass. It takes place in upstate Michigan, which is a place I visited this summer. To add to the cozy-ness, the librarian lives with her cat on a houseboat during the warm season. Another favorite is Jenn McKinlay’s “Cupcake Bakery” mysteries. I am often drooling by the end (good thing there are recipes!).

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