Reading for enjoyment – necessary for our wellbeing…

open book for reading

Inspired by Liz’s super post last week, I am indulging myself this weekend because it is Mothering Sunday.

I have decided I am not going to write.

I am going to be reading.

But hang on, is reading an indulgence or a necessity?

We all need time off to recharge our batteries, refill the well, get our head together — whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it can be a good walk, or a browse around a museum, or just hanging out with friends.

chatting about reading authors we love

Or reading a good book

In these uncertain times, most of the things listed above are just not practical.
Except the last.interior Leakey's Bookshop Inverness

So, this weekend I am going to indulge myself with books. Lots of them. I shall dip in and out, look at old favourites and rearrange my teetering TBR pile. (Okay, I confess, the picture on the right is NOT my TBR books, but I’d love it to be! This is Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness, a treasure trove for anyone who loves browsing books.)

Later I shall also be asking you to recommend new ones to make that TBR pile teeter even more perilously!

cover Death Come To Cornwall by Kate JohnsonI am currently enjoying a lovely cosy crime mystery by Kate Johnson Death Comes to Cornwall.

When I am in the middle of writing a romance, my reading time is limited and so is my concentration span.

Also, I have to read something from another genre, and this one fits the bill very nicely. It has an enjoyable romance, gorgeous setting and enough mystery to keep me guessing without addling my poor cold-befuddled brain. (No, it’s not befuddled with that virus. Just an ordinary common-or-garden cold.)

Another cosy crime author whose books are always adding to my TBR pile is Lesley Cookman. Her Libby Sarjeant series is a constant delight. I love the Kentish village setting and quirky characters.

cover Murder In Steeple Martin by Lesley Cookman

I shall also be pulling books from my “keeper’s shelf” and reminding myself how much I enjoyed them. Like P D James’ thrillers – always absorbing but a little unsettling, too. Her talent for acute observation always makes me a bit uncomfortable, possibly because of what I fear she might have observed in me, had we ever met!

Sherlock Holmes with pipe and magnifying glass

And then there is the Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves.

cover Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

 

I discovered these wonderful books after watching the first television series, and I devoured the lot, almost back to back. Perhaps it was because we were already thinking of moving to Scotland but I fell in love with the island setting.

Her characters, too, are so well drawn. And so much better, if I dare say so, than the tv version, although that, too is very good.

 

Comfort Reads

Illness or bad news can be so dispiriting, can’t it?
That’s when I find myself reaching for my comfort reads.

My poor Georgette Heyer paperbacks are beginning to fall apart now, but they still do the trick. These are the covers of my copies: I considered putting up pictures of the latest, glossy covers but heck, these are much-loved books. So here they are in all their, er, glory!

worn covers of 3 Georgette Heyer Regencies

There are others, of course, mainly contemporary romances, that I reach for when I need to cover Afgternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnsonescape the world. My early Katie Fforde books are very well thumbed, and a few years ago I discovered another author to add to my favourites: Milly Johnson.

Milly’s new books never linger on the TBR pile very long!

If you can have such a thing as no nonsense comedy then Milly delivers it. Her situations are very real, the characters complex but there are always plenty of laughs and a satisfying ending.
What more can I ask for in a feel-good read?

And as I begin to recover – from my cold 😉 – I find I start thinking of all those things I have missed while curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a box of tissues. Like cooking a new recipe. So I like to browse through recipe books, ones with nice glossy pictures that can inspire me to put on an apron and slave over a hot stove.
Like these three beauties: Delia, James Martin, Nigella.

covers of cookbooks by Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigella Lawson

Now, did I mention Scotland earlier?

Scotland – and specifically the Highlands – is my new passion. (Look out for a kilted Highlander later in the year!) I just cannot get enough of the place.

At Christmas I was given a perfectly delightful coffee table book, Highland Retreats.

cover of Highland Retreats by Mary MiersWhen I need to rest my eyes from all those printed pages, I can browse through pictures of the sumptuously romantic castles of the north of Scotland. It is the perfect book to have to hand when the weather is too foul to venture out of doors.

I can take a virtual tour of the Highlands, marvel at the fairy-tale turrets of Dunrobin Castle and Ardverikie. (That’s the Scots Baronial hunting lodge used as Glen Bogle in “Monarch of the Glen” — remember that series? Based on the books of Compton Mackenzie).

I can browse through pictures of the sumptuous interiors, imagine the gatherings, parties, balls taking place in the baronial halls, drinking hot toddies before a blazing fire. Best to keep these ideas as dreams? I suspect the reality was long draughty corridors and smoking chimneys!

I admit there is very little in the book that is of use to me, since my historicals are mainly set pre-Victorian times. But as I said at the beginning, this is a weekend of indulgence. No pressure to research or learn anything, just to sit and enjoy.

Now it’s your turn

So, dear guest, what are YOU reading?  I have had my say. Now it is over to you to tell me what you will be reading/browsing this weekend — or into the week, if you have time to spare.

Whatever it is, I hope it takes you away to somewhere magical, even if only for a while!

Sarah Mallory author image

Sarah Mallory

12 thoughts on “Reading for enjoyment – necessary for our wellbeing…

  1. lesley2cats

    I say, Sarah! I’m so flattered! Your reading habits are remarkably similar to mine: I was delighted with Kate Johnson’s first cosy crime, and rather thrilled in general that the genre (though I hate the name) seems to be gaining popularity. And I have exactly those copies of Georgette Heyer, who are comfort reading for me, too. And Katie Fforde, of course…I’ll stop there. This weekend I’ve been reading Clare Chase, whose new series is very like my own. Murder at Apple Tree Cottage is the second in the series with an obituary writer as the protagonist. And after that the penultimate Brenda and Effie novel by Paul Magrs, tongue in cheek fantasy comedy set mostly in Whitby. I suspect I will be reading through my whole library over the next few months, and trying to resist the lure of the instant book on the Kindle. (Sorry – bit long.)

    Reply
    1. Sarah Mallory

      Don’t apologise for length, Lesley, I am delighted to hear what you are reading. I haven’t read Clare Chase so I will look out for her, and Brenda and Effie sounds like fun, too, I will add it to my list. As I said it is teetering, but one can never have enough books 🙂

      Reply
  2. Elizabeth Bailey

    I finished the Cornwall mystery a short time ago and really enjoyed it. Agree completely with Heyer as the ultimate comfort read. Love Lesley’s crime novels too and Ann Cleeves – but I liked the Vera books rather than the Scottish ones.

    As for me, I’m reading Virgin Widow, about Anne Neville and Richard at the moment. My TBR sits in my kindle and it’s loaded with an eclectic selection, to which I keep adding. If I start now, I might just manage to get through everything waiting for me by the time we’re back socialising. I’d like nothing better than to abandon all else for reading, but as you know, books don’t write themselves and they won’t sell themselves either! Sigh….

    Reply
  3. annestenhouse

    I can agree with much of this. In fact I finished Venetia, far right of your GH pic, this week. I’m now reading Charlie Cochrane’s detective duo as featured on Kelly Lacey’s blog of RNA @60. TBR pile would demand a hard hat if it was a single pile…

    Reply
    1. Sarah Mallory

      Anne, Charlie C is another one to add to my list. Hard hats for TBR pile definitely a must – it has far outgrown the bedside table 🙂

      I may need to buy another bookcase…

      Reply
  4. Sarah Mallory

    Thanks for dropping by, Liz. Interesting about Ann Cleeves, I couldn’t get on with the Vera books, but love Shetland. Shows we all have different tastes, doesn’t it?

    I, too, would love to disappear into a book all day every day, but writers need to write, and I am finding all the extra things posted on social media to help pass the time (some of them brilliant, BTW) are not helping my concentration at all. It’s a struggle, taking enormous amounts of will power, to turn off the web and get back to the work in progress!

    Reply
  5. Sophie

    I’ve been reading lots in the present circumstances and some of my choices have been a bit random and slightly disappointing. So when I knocked over a table of books in the spare room, I said to myself, “Let the Universe choose. I will read the first book I pick up.”

    It turned out to be A Song of Summer by Eva Ibbotson. She’s one of my very favourite writers but I don’t think I’ve re-read A Song since I bought it on publication. It is a delight to rediscover. I’m at Chapter Five at the moment and deliberately going slowly because I want to savour all the little ironic comments, the note-perfect characterisation, the wit, the kindness, the commitment to gentleness and friendship that does not deny the evil in the world. In the case of this book, small and really, really big evil too. Absolutely spellbinding. So glad that the Universe chose it.

    How lucky we are to have books!

    Reply
  6. Sarah Mallory

    Sophie, sometimes the Universe comes up trumps, and this was clearly one of those moments. I love Ibbotson’s books too, ever since to alerted me to them. Some books I can skim through to find out what happens next, others I like to savour for the writing and the sheer joy of the storytelling.

    If you are following me on social media then I apologise for repeating myself, (in fact, I have just had to go back through my comments here to make sure I haven’t already said it) but reading can be done in splendid isolation!

    Reply
  7. janegordoncumming

    I’m reading PG Wodehouse – of course, having downloaded a compendium with some we haven’t got. And I’ve just come across a bit where he’s clearly quoting Georgette Heyer! (These Old Shades, if I remember rightly.) Does it mean he was a fan?

    Reply
  8. Sarah Mallory

    Wodehouse is always comforting/ Not sure about the Heyer, but it wouldn’t surprise me if PGW read and liked her work. I don’t have all of his books, so maybe this is a time to get a few. And start another TBR pile!

    Reply
  9. Rosemary Gemmell

    Great post, Sarah. Apart from revisiting old favourites like the Golden Age of Crime of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh and such like, I love escaping completely into the Tudor world of CJ Sansom, and I’m reading an interesting novel about Mary Queen of Scots just now by Alex Nye. I also loved Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour. One of my favourite American romance writers is Barbara Freethy as she usually has a good element of suspense as well – and she has several different series.

    Reply

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