My Definition of Restful and Why That Might Be Weird to You

Recently, I’ve had text, email, or Zoom conversations with friends about books we’re reading, and in one of them, I made this statement: “I want a restful book.” Though you were not part of that discussion, I want to elaborate on what I meant.

By restful, I mean a book I can enjoy any hour of the day or night or during a pandemic. It is one that does not evoke feelings of righteous indignation, rage, depression, or mind-numbing fear. Though dinosaurs may or may not eat people and wealthy tyrants might be murdered in locked rooms by any number of suspects, I don’t fret about it, especially since I’m not the one being eaten nor the one whose murder is the basis of a cozy, but entertaining mystery.

My reading does not always involve murder or full-bellied dinosaurs, however. I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Darcy getting a comeuppance by Elizabeth Bennet (you know this one); Valancy Stirling experiencing life in a new way (The Blue Castle); and a small, unsupervised child crawling out of a window via a handy tree and going off by himself at night in search of a pillow. (Guess which book this is. No parenting advice will be forthcoming from me.)



Pride and Prejudice DVD case shown here, rather than the book cover, because I already had this photo in my blog library

Many of the books I’ve read in the last two months are restful in that they are familiar like well-loved walking trails. I’ve traversed these paths again and again and still appreciate the scenery.

What is restful reading to you? If books are not your thing, what have you been watching lately that you would categorize as restful?

The Blue Castle cover from Goodreads. Other photos by L. Marie.

32 thoughts on “My Definition of Restful and Why That Might Be Weird to You

    • I love action movies too–just not before bed. The adrenaline high is too much for me. I learned that the hard way while watching my favorite action set–the Bourne movies. I have to watch those early in the day and then something quieter at night. 😃

  1. Yes! I love books like this, too. Stories that have depth and conflict and multidimensional characters, without the hard-hitting, rage-inducing factors. They are a joy to read, especially during this time.

    • I thought of you as I wrote the post, because you’re the one to whom I said that statement. 😀 We so need those restful books.

  2. While my husband likes audio books with action – Lee Child, David Baldacci – my tastes run more like yours. Just today one of my writer friends is launching her new book, The Presence of Absence, both a spiritual reflection and a memoir about her reckoning with adoption:

    I wrote a blurb for the book, so I can safely recommend it.
    Nice collage of books, L. Marie, and a timely topic, for sure!

    • Congrats to your friend Linda, Marian! Wow! How exciting for her. Thank you for the recommendation!
      A friend here loves Lee Child and David Baldacci. 😀

  3. I haven’t read much since we started this stay-at-home adventure in lifestyle. I’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek for a diversion from reality. As silly as it is I find it restful to laugh at absurdity. Catherine O’Hara’s character is priceless.

    • Ally, I’ve heard others talk about that series and how fun it is. Catherine O’Hara has been awesome since the days of SCTV back in the day!! 😀

  4. I’ve been revisiting the Dortmunder books by the late (great) Donald Westlake, in which a loose gang of hapless, low-level crooks try to pull off jobs above their weight, most often without success. You might know the first of these, The Hot Rock, because it became a moving starring Robert Redford (not believable if you know the titular character from the books) and George Segal (more believable). The characters are strong (and amusing) and their plots go awry in hilarious ways.

    • Though I’ve heard of Donald Westlake, I’ve actually never read any of his books. Thanks for the recommendation! The series sounds very fun! 😀

  5. From all the tension, I’ve been needing comedy. I’ve been re-watching the TV show The Office on Netflix. I also put on the reruns of Big Bang Theory. Glad you found some restful reading to enjoy, L.

  6. Oh L.Marie – we should start a book club called, “The Restful Weirdos”…semi-joking, what do you think? Maybe a ZOOM thing? Hmmm
    Anyway. While shopping for the jump rope your Amazon surprise Gift Card helped to finance (sounds cool, to say it that way HA! Thanks again) , I found a book to add to my ‘cart’…
    “Willa’s Grove” by Laura Munson. Added to Michelle’s “Becoming” which I’m loving and poetry collections by May Sarton and of course Mary Oliver I am surrounded with plenty of ‘Pandemic Restful’.
    I’ll have to dig out my L.M Montgomery series – your rec reminded me of those and they sound good to revisit. Thanks!

    • “The Restful Weirdos”–love that, Laura! 😀
      I looked up Willa’s Grove. It sounds great. It kind of reminds me of Enchanted April–a film I love. Have you started reading Willa’s Grove?
      Are you going to reread Anne of Green Gables?

      • If I can find it, I will reread Anne of Green Gables…and yes, I started Willa’s Grove…so relatable on so many fronts…are you thinking of reading it, too?
        I hear ‘Restful Weirdos’ starting to make itself known!

  7. Jane Austen qualifies as restful reading for me . . . but her unfinished novel, Sanditon, made into a min-series had a crap ending. My solution: I rewrote the ending in my head as I drifted off to the land of Nod.

    • I heard about that miniseries.😫 Though I have her unfinished novel in my home library, I avoided that series like the plague!

  8. The content of the books I read tends to follow a “peaks and valleys” kind of journey. I love to dig into an intense book sometimes, like A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, but after that I need something light – a nice little mystery, or something funny. After that though, I really want to dig into something again. Good thing there are all kinds of books out there!

    • True! My reading also goes in cycles. After an intense season, I need something light. I’m in the mood for light reading these days.

  9. I do like a cozy mystery, a story with puzzling at its core. I like to be distracted by having to use my brain to follow the story, listen for clues (thinking of audiobooks here). I know people do awful things so I don’t need that spelled out to me. Besides, I have an imagination and I like to use it when I’m reading (or listening). And I want the hero to win in the end, perhaps more now than ever. I like your concept of restful. The series of novels by Peter Grainger were, indeed restful for me … to the point where I couldn’t listen to them in bed, else I’d fall asleep 😉

    • We’re all in need of rest in this day of turmoil. I’m still reading restful books and enjoying the calm they bring.

  10. Oddly enough, a nice murder is just the thing to make me relax! Not one of these gruesome depressing modern murders based in reality, but the bumping off of an unpleasant rich man in a lovely country house or luxurious hotel full of glamorous suspects. In short, Agatha Christie… 😉

    • I completely agree, FF! 😊 A tidy murder. Agatha specialized in those. It’s time I picked up another of the Miss Marple books. I’ve read them all, but it’s time to read them again.

  11. I recently read Shawn Smucker’s book, Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship with a Syrian Refugee Taught Me about Loving My Neighbor. I really liked his development of setting–almost felt like another character. Upbeat book about embracing differences. A breath of fresh air!

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