I Need Book Advice

My mom, Nonny, is really doing well with shelter-in-place.  She has always been superb at doing what the doctor recommends – always.  I think I’ve probably said here before that if the doctor told her to stand on her head every Tuesday and spit wooden nickels, you’d better have a bucket to collect those nickels every Tuesday. 

At 88 she is taking covid precautions very seriously.  She is staying in, staying away from neighbors, only going shopping when absolutely necessary and then she goes the extra mile (sprays the inside of her car, wipes all products off when she gets home, wears a mask, etc.)  She is not an online person, so she’s watching a lot of tv and doing a solitary walk every afternoon.  She’s mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of months that she is “out of books”.   Despite the fact that she introduced me to libraries as a child, she is not a library person.  Although I’ve suggested she find a close one, she is worried about hanging about in a library and bringing home potential contaminants.  Telling her that she can talk to a librarian about how they are handling covid to possibly reassure her hasn’t helped.

I thought I would get her some books, but I’m stymied about what to send.  I know that her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.  I know that she likes mysteries and thrillers but not things that are “too dark”.  Too much graphic violence and sex is right out as well. 

So if I go to the bookstore to pick up some titles for her, what should I get???

59 thoughts on “I Need Book Advice”

  1. my mom is 90 and lives in a old folks co op with 500 people who are well set up for quarantine with the dining room closed and meals available only for pick up she cooks mostly for herself. my son in the basement has become quite the chef and is an expert at bbq and instant pot chicken recipes so he gives her a monster chicken breast that last 3 days regularly and her trips to the grocery and drug store have stopped since a pepsi truck totaled her car a month ago

    she came out to my warehouse a couple months ago and grabbed what she wanted from her stash and gas that sitting in her living room waiting to be sorted.

    she has always been a book and magazine person and brings over her used stuff when she’s done reading. i get her sunday new york times and her architectural digest when she’s done

    her book tastes are all over the place and it would be nice to show her how to do the virtual library with her card but computer stuff is hard. she has a tough time with tv netflix or amazon prime so libby at the library would be too much

    amazon books are so good i think barnes and noble are going to be hard pressed to continue in business. fast delivery and low prices are what they do, used and new so going to the book store is not as appealing as it once was. if you have amazon prime she can use it and get the free delivery.
    check that out for your mom too vs

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dan Brown if she can tolerate some sexual symbolism? How about redoing Agatha Christie if she has read her books before? My mystery loving sisters have reread theirs during the early days of quarantine. If she likes children’s books (i still do) Enid Blyton’s series like Secret seven or even Harry potter.

    If she owns an ipad, let her download programs like audible or storytel. The latter has both ebooks and audiobooks.
    Happy shopping!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I seldom read mysteries or thrillers myself, but Robin does, so anything I suggest is secondhand and observational. My sense of Mary Higgins Clark is that that’s not a high bar to meet. Since mystery writers tend to make use of a context, like a bookshop or gardening or a location, as Louise Penny does, why not start with some mysteries based on other interests your mother has? And since mysteries tend to be in series, why not send her a selection and see what strikes her fancy?

    Liked by 6 people

  4. The books by Barbara Pym and Miss Read are English village books. No mysteries, and not a lot of action, but interesting characters and kind of soothing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hamish McBeth Series. Not the best of mysteries or writing but they have a certain charm. Set in a fictional Scottish coastal village. Titles start “Death of _________.” Quick read.
      The books you are describing fit Sandy’s taste. When she gets up I will ask, but she may not remember. We will see.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. BTW if you know the TV series, 20+ years old now, I need to say it is nothing like the books, and much better. She has at least 3 other series. She also wrote the Agathe Raisin series, which also are much better as TV than a book. Sandy loved it, but last couple have been poor.


  5. Rise and Shine Baboons:

    OT Dog Update: Our little dog that was mauled had a second surgery yesterday. She had 2 drains in. One was removed 10 days into the thing. Over the weekend, Bootsy was done with the dangling fluid collector (the grenade), and she bit it off, then started pulling on the tube. She bit off two sections of the tube, as well. Monday the vet tried to remove it and it was stuck. So yesterday she had to do surgery to remove 10” of internal tubing that had adhered to some scar tissue. The new incision is longer than the original bite wound. She was home by 7pm feeling better, free of the paraphernalia.

    Associated reading material: All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. Very old, but wonderful story telling about rural Northern England.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Good news.
      Another aside for those of you aware of my son’s struggles to get a mass removed from his kidneys: after seven missteps or ignoring him, he has a date to have his kidney removed. Nov 4.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. I’ve enjoyed Mary Roberts Rinehart, a contemporary of Agatha Christie. And would she enjoy historical mysteries like Anne Perry’s.

    And if we’re not sticking to mysteries, my mom enjoyed Maeve Binchey novels, I think the first one was Light a Penny Candle.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I second Bill’s suggestion of Louise Penny’s novels set in Three Pines, Quebec. I also recommend Minnesota’s own William Kent Krueger. His Cork O’Connor series is outstanding, first to last. John Sandford is another possibility. J.A. Jance, Tony Hillerman, Jack Higgins, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly (especially his Mickey Haller books), Steve Berry (MC is Cotton Malone).

    Most of David Baldacci’s books are excellent, but a few push the edge on gory violence so be careful there.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

  8. I would agree with Alexander McCall Smith, Louise Penny, Sue Grafton, and William Kent Krueger. Re: John Sandford – the Lucas Davenport series started out great but I haven’t been impressed with those books for several years. I’d rather read his Virgil Flowers series though Virgil’s nickname is F***ing Flowers which would be off-putting to your mom. I’ve also enjoyed Brian Freeman’s Jonathan Stride series which take place on the Iron Range. Another possibility is Susan Elia MacNeal’s mystery series starring Maggie Hope which takes place in England during WWII, best read in order.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Ooh, and she might enjoy the Maisie Dobbs series: “In 1929 London, former servant Maisie Dobbs starts her own business as a psychologist and investigator…” Author Jacqueline Winspear, also should be read in order, first one is titled simply Maisie Dobbs.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. You all are awesome (and Robin too who emailed me separately!) I just set up the first Amazon shipment for Nonny. This is what we’re starting with:
    Body in the Belfry: A Faith Fairchild Mystery byKatherine Hall Page
    Open and Shut: Andy Carpenter Mystery by David Rosenfelt
    Morbid Taste for Bones: Brother Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters
    Mr. Churchill’s Secretary: Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Ella MacNeal
    Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
    The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
    Still Life by Louise Penny

    And, of course, I wrote down ALL the ideas that you all generated so far on a spreadsheet so I’ll have ideas for the next shipment!!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I admire your organizational skills, VS. They’ll stand you in good stead in trying to keep track of what you have already sent, and ideas for future shipments. I can nod in recognition to some of the suggested books, others I’ve never heard of. I’m wondering how you know what your mom has already read? You’ve told us that she’s an avid reader, so I would have thought that she might already have read much of what was suggested here.

      Several of my friends from my Danish book club, have such comprehensive records of what they have already read, that I’m imagining that your mom might have, too. In any case, I wish her happy reading.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m just guessing. While she likes to read, she’s a slow reader. So she can really make a book last if she wants to. I think the biggest issue will be to get her to tell me the truth. Because I think she might worry that it’ll hurt my feelings if she doesn’t like one of the books that I sent. So I’ll have to manage that issue as it arises.


        1. That answer immediately made me flash back to one incident with my mother. She had for some obscure reason purchased some “blodpølse.” Blood sausage. I was about fifteen at the time, and had never encountered it before, and I was not particularly thrilled. But mom was so excited about having found this new delicacy, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I said I liked it, though I didn’t – really. That was a mistake. The following week she came home with more blood sausage, and I had to tell her that I didn’t really care for it. She never bought it again. The funny thing is, I now like it – in limited quantities. It’s a special treat, at a specific time of year, and that’s the only time you eat it. Much like lutefisk.

          Liked by 3 people

  11. Books by Francis Hardinge! They’re aimed for a much younger audience, but you wouldn’t think it. I’d recommend the lie tree to start with. I recently read The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert which I really liked it, but it’s YA fantasy

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I like cozy mysteries, British mysteries and “vintage” mysteries playing in the 20s or earlier very much. I can highly recommend M.C. Beaton, Rhys Bowen, Kate Parker, Carola Dunn, Martha Grimes, Emily Brightwell, Jacqueline Winspear, Kerry Greenwood, Lee Strauss, T.E. Kinsey, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Rita Mae Brown, Jill Churchill, Anne Perry… if your Mum liked the series “Murder, she wrote” with Angela Lansbury, the books from Donad Bain are great too. Another great author is P.G. Wodehouse with his Jeeves novels. For more thrilling books: Patricia Cornwell, Jeffrey Deaver, P.D. James, Lee Child, Stuart Woods, Tess Gerritsen. Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner are classics with their nero wolfe and perry mason characters …

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for all these great suggestions. I still remember how delightful it was when I discovered my first Barbara Pym. Welcome to the trail.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I mean I’m kinda stating the obvious, but… have you tried Agatha Christie’s books? Those books are perfect mystery books and don’t contain too much graphics… they are perfect for almost all the age groups to read. I personally reccomend “The Labours of Hercules”.



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