Friday, May 10, 2013

Heartwarming Reads

I’m sure you would agree that as good citizens, we should all try to keep up with the major events and issues of the day. This would seem to be an easy task given the avalanche of news reports bombarding us from every side and in every possible medium. The difficulty, however, comes not only in sifting out the essential facts from the barrage of nonsense and propaganda, but also in maintaining one’s emotional equilibrium while digesting the news. The latter poses a particular challenge these days, with the headlines full of sequesters and looming fiscal meltdowns, unrest (both civil and otherwise), natural disasters, man’s inhumanity to man and beast (and vice versa), and mayhem of all sorts.

If you find yourself needing to decompress from all this misery, the library has just the thing for you: heartwarming books! These are guaranteed to provide a respite in the storm, light a candle in the gloom, and restore a bit of your faith in the order of the universe.

The library has many uplifting and inspiring accounts of how people overcame adversity, sacrificed for others, and met life’s challenges with courage and optimism.  Try Strength in What Remains : A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder--the true story of a young man from war-torn Burundi who came to America with nothing and made it through medical school.  No Biking in the House Without a Helmet  by Melissa Fay Greene is a journalist’s account of how she and her husband expanded their family of four children by adopting five from overseas.  Or try The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio : How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan--a humorous portrait of her contest-entering mother during the 1950s and 1960s.
Not surprisingly, many heartwarming books are about animals:  Four-Legged Miracles:  Heartwarming Tales of Lost Dogs' Journeys Home by Brad and Sherry Hansen Steiger is a collection of true stories of dogs’ overcoming incredible odds to reunite with their human families.  Giant George : Life With the World's Biggest Dog by Dave Nasser tells the humorous account of a runt puppy who grew to prodigious size with a loving heart to match.  Horses Never Lie About Love : The Heartwarming Story of a Remarkable Horse Who Changed the World Around Her by Jana Harris or Homer's Odyssey : A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper are both books that highlight human animal relationships...more of which can be found in the library's catalog 
If your tastes run to fiction, you will find the library a storehouse of heartwarming titles in the “gentle reads” or “cozy” genre.  Regardless of sub-genre (mystery, romance, historical fiction, Christian fiction) gentle reads generally offer relief from graphic violence and “adult situations.”  They’re often set in small towns or country villages and extol old-fashioned values such as honesty, neighbor helping neighbor, and overcoming obstacles through strength of character.  Many gentle reads appear in series, such as Jan Karon’s Mitford Years, Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts, Gail Fraser’s Lumby, or Miss Read’s Fairacre books.   A few of the many other authors include Fannie Flagg, Maeve Binchy, Rosamunde Pilcher, Angela Thirkell, Philip Gulley, and Alexander McCall Smith. 
Cynics may object that heartwarming books and gentle reads are nothing but fluff and escapism, but then that’s the point!  Why not balance today’s grim headlines with an occasional escape now and then to a kinder, gentler world?  Check with library staff for more suggestions to warm the cockles of your heart!
Beth @ Bealeton

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