comforting reads for grown-ups in corona-times

Hello, Marmalade Friends!
I hope you are gradually discovering helpful ways to walk this odd, new pathway with a measure of peace and a few creative solutions for yourselves and those you love.

winding path

I took some time earlier this week to ponder what I might be able to offer up on Orange Marmalade in the days ahead.
At the top of my Thinking Page I wrote, “Order of Care.”
Of all the directions I could take the blog during this strange time, which take precedence?
What quickly rose to the top of my list was care for caregivers.
My hunch is you don’t really need lists of juicy picture books just now. Our libraries here in the Twin Cites are closed at any rate and I suspect many of yours are as well. If you want book suggestions, there are thousands of titles in the Marmalade archives which you can access at any time.

Instead I’d like to devote some space in the coming weeks to encouragement,
for those whose kids have newly landed at home for school,
for any of you caring for children stuck at home,
for anyone feeling particularly stressed out or alone.
I hope to gather ideas for non-electronic activities and projects that may engender joy for both you and your children.
I plan to sprinkle in a few titles along the way, especially for middle grade and older readers.
And I hope that even more than usual, you will chime in with your suggestions and discoveries in the comments. Whenever I hear from you, I’m always astonished by the wealth of experience, wisdom, and loveliness in this little blog community!
Anyway, that’s a window on my thinking about the forthcoming weeks as of today! Of course, it could change!
I’d love any feedback you have on these plans.

cozy reading nook

Doesn’t this look like a splendid spot for reading during social isolation?!

Today, as requested, I’ve got a list of books to help engender comfort, peace, joy, and loveliness for you, the grown-ups in the household.
These are simply titles that came to mind when I thought back to books that have soothed me, made me happy, transported me, or even entranced me with the beauty of the writing.

Great Children’s Books for Adult Readers

anne of green gables

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
She’s everyone’s favorite girl for many reasons! Her spunk and imagination are delightful antidotes to the doldrums. Plus, there’s an entire series so you can just read your way through them all!


Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne
If you have never read the original stories, you do not know what you are missing — some of the most charmingly-flawed, dear characters ever created. If you have read them, you know they are just the ticket for a cheerful foray into the 100 Aker Wood.

the wind in the willows

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
Transport yourselves into the ambling world of Ratty and Mole, messing about in boats and packing prodigious picnics, and the obstreperous, incorrigible Mr. Toad. It’s like wandering in a sunny glade of joy.

the secret garden

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This title may sound like a rather prissy fairy tale. Instead, you’ll meet some lovely, down-to-earth folks and witness the extraordinary transformation of two wretched children and one barren garden. A hopeful, springtime read.

Positively Pleasant Reads


Emma, by Jane Austen
Really, any novel of Austen’s would be a superb choice just now with her wit, brilliant characters, and keen social critique. Emma is quite a funny novel and there are several film versions to watch when you’re finished including the newest which hit theaters just before we were all given home detention and which, I understand, will instead be streaming, so…read it and watch!

i capture the castle

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
My daughters and I discovered this book years and years ago and we have all read it multiple times and shared it with many friends. It’s an absolutely charming coming-of-age story set in a decrepit castle in England in the 1930s. The narrator’s voice is superb.

the guernsey literary

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
This fabulous book is comprised of a series of letters exchanged just after WWII between a journalist and an unknown man on the island of Guernsey who found her name in a used book he purchased. An exquisite tale with characters we quickly accept as friends.

miss read

Village School, by Miss Read
This is the first in a l-o-n-g, delightful series about dear Miss Read, a schoolteacher in the village of Fairacre, and the assorted folk who make up her small, lusciously-rural world. I used to read them when we lived in West Africa and times were so capital-T Tough that I found it hard to focus on more challenging reading. Very transporting.

The Natural World

ring of bright water

Ring of Bright Water, by Gavin Maxwell
An absolutely delightful, true account of Mr. Maxwell’s life on a remote stretch of coastal Scotland and the otters who became his beloved companions.

a sand county almanac

A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold
I have this book out from the library right now — checked it out before the gates slammed shut on us! Leopold, who lived in Wisconsin, was one of America’s preeminent, early conservationists. His homely observations throughout the seasons are written with warmth, good humor, and fascination. A very calming read so far, so I’m recommending it, though I’m guessing a few observations later in the book about the despoiling of nature will be somewhat less merry.

all creatures great and small

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot
This is the first of the original, 4-book sequence Herriot wrote about his experiences as a veterinarian among the windswept hills and stone-cold byres of Yorkshire. Each is a loving, funny, vivid portrayal of the rugged culture in this place during the mid-twentieth century.

born free

Born Free, by Joy Adamson
I read this as a school girl and went on to read all Joy Adamson’s books about her life in the Northern Frontier district of Kenya in the 1950s, and the lioness, Elsa, which she raised from a cub, and then set free. A book to take you to another time, place, and life.

Fantasy, Detectives, and Humor

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone illustrated edition cover image

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
If your tastes run a bit more active or fantastical, you cannot really go wrong with the Harry Potter series. Funny, magical, brave, and triumphant, with some of the most loving, self-sacrificing characters in fiction. And so many pages! Enough to see us through.

the moonstone

The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins
This classic British detective story starts a bit slowly, I think, with its lengthy prologue, then quickly morphs into an utterly delightful, absorbing story told in turn by various characters in superbly distinctive voices. Puzzle your way through to the surprising revelation of who stole the mysterious moonstone!

leave it to psmith

Leave it to Psmith, by P.G. Woodhouse
Woodhouse is best known for his Jeeves and Wooster storiesΒ  — an outstanding source of belly laughs for me while living in West Africa. He’s got another character, though, named Psmith (the P is silent, as in ptarmigan!) and this book introducing him is over-the-top ridiculous. Laughter is great medicine!

miss buncle's book

Miss Buncle’s Book, by D.E. Stevenson
Mild-mannered Barbara Buncle needs financial rescue during the Great Depression so she decides to write a book about all the eccentric personalities in her village. She gives them pseudonyms but unfortunately, they aren’t too tough for readers to figure out. Uproar ensues in this funny, lighthearted story sure to make you smile.


If your go-to literature for stressful times is high octane adventure, I’m afraid these will likely not do the trick, but for those of you looking for something absorbing, stabilizing, and time-tested, maybe something here will suit you.
Please feel free to leave more reading suggestions in the comments!

I’ll be back on Monday with some encouragement especially for those with kids newly landing at home for school.
If you know anyone in that boat, please do invite them to join us as we breathe deeply and deconstruct some of the must-dos they are perhaps feeling and hearing just now.
Later in the week I plan to provide some suggestions for non-electronic activity books, kits, and games,
and my last women’s history post will pop up featuring female athletes.
Stay well, friends!