7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 222)

June 21, 2013 | 104 comments

— 1 —

How is the host transfer going? Glad you asked. I’m loving the new host, but I ran into a glitch today. And it wasn’t just any glitch: it was the most exasperating, infuriating, life-ruining technical problem that has ever happened to anyone since the invention of electricity. Think I’m exaggerating? Behold:

My RSS feed was broken (for non-nerds, an RSS feed is just a way that people can read your blog posts without actually visiting your site). Since a large percentage of readers follow my site this way, it’s important that it works. So anyway, it was not working at all, and after a lot of Googling I found out what the problem was: one of the hundreds of files on my server had an extra white space in it. Just one space — like, a single click of the spacebar — would do it. All I had to do was find and remove that space, and everything would work perfectly again. But finding the space was, quite literally, like finding a needle in a haystack.

I’ll gloss over the details of my reaction to this situation, a subject to discuss in detail with my spiritual director, but let’s just say that it’s a good thing that I didn’t have access to a Blow Up World Now button this afternoon.

It eventually got fixed, but I still don’t know what did it. It just started working all of a sudden. Maybe the guys at my host did something. Or maybe God intervened directly as an act of mercy toward Dorian and Hallie, who were on the receiving end of emails from me in which I used many vivid adjectives to describe by feelings about this issue.

— 2 —

The Endless Summer continues here at the Fulwiler house. Between the will-to-live-crushing heat, the mosquitoes, the complete lack of shade in our back yard, and the unfathomable difficulty of getting six young children out the door to go somewhere, our situation increasingly reminds me of that family who was so lost in the Russian tundra that they didn’t know that World War II happened. I remember seeing a documentary where they talked about how these people would sit in their shack with nothing to do for months and months at a time during the winter; they were so insanely bored that they would tell one another about the dreams they had the night before for entertainment.

That’s us. We sit around the living room all day long, with only the occasional argument over video games to break up the monotony. At the end of August, anthropologists are going to break into our house and find us wild-eyed and scared of strangers, so cut off from society for so long that we use grunting noises as our primary method of communication.

— 3 —

7qt222-2k-to-10kFew things delight me more than discovering a book that helps me improve my writing, and so it made my day to come across Rachel Aaron’s ebook 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love (I wasn’t asked to plug it; I just found it in my wanderings on Amazon). Anyone who writes anything should read this. Whether it’s blog posts, novels, a PhD dissertation, or anything else, this book will help you get your writing done faster — in fact, the meat of her suggestions are in the first 10% of the book, so you’ll be able to implement her tips after your first read. Another interesting note is that Aaron is a published author who has written many novels, and they all get great reviews on Amazon.

I haven’t been able to hit 10, 000 words in any of my writing sessions, but Aaron’s suggestions did quadruple my output with no decrease in quality. It’s only $0.99 as an ebook — go check it out!

— 4 —

Is it a trend for novels to have incredibly dark themes, or am I just stuck in a rut with Amazon’s recommendations engine because I don’t read very much fiction? It’s probably the latter. I bought Defending Jacob a while back, and now Amazon keeps recommending all of these books that have themes like “life is full of horrific suffering that will crush your soul, but if you try hard enough you might be able to scrape a little meaning out of it.” I spent an hour yesterday trying to find a good novel, but every time I was about to hit Add to Cart I’d notice customer reviews that revealed plot twists like babies dying, mothers dying, people being sexually assaulted, puppies being kicked, or whatever. Ugh! Maybe it’s because I have a new baby or am under a lot of stress, but I cannot deal with books like that right now.

So give me some suggestions for light reads. I mean, it doesn’t have to be a book where the characters experience one joy after the next. It doesn’t even have to have a happy ending. If there aren’t too many plotlines that involve people experience heart-shredding losses that leave them shattered reflections of their former selves, I’ll take it.

— 5 —

I wish I could get myself on a schedule where I ate a big lunch, had a heavy snack at around 5:30 or so, then didn’t eat again after that. Not eating late is standard advice for dieting, but I’ve found that there are other reasons to cut off food earlier rather than later — I sleep better, it’s easier to wake up, and I have more energy the next morning. And the earlier in the evening that I stop eating, the better I feel.

Interestingly, the first time I experimented with this was when our Colombian Kidsave child and her chaperone lived with us in the summer of 2009. Evidently in Colombia it’s standard practice to eat a heavy lunch and a very light dinner. I learned the hard way that this wasn’t a casual preference; they firmly believed that it was bad for your health to eat a big meal late in the evening, and wouldn’t eat much at supper even if they’d had a skimpy lunch. The more time I’ve had to experiment with this kind of eating schedule, the more I think there’s a lot of wisdom behind it.

— 6 —

I am really excited about the beginning of July. Not only is that when I’ll turn the book in to my publisher, but it marks the second half of the year. I’m ready to just call the first half of 2013 a loss, and look forward to an awesome rest of the year.

— 7 —

I don’t know why I laugh until I cry every time I see this video, “The Beach Boys without autotune.” But I do. (via Rachel Lucas)



  1. Jesabes

    I broke my RSS feeder once, too, and WOE was throughout the land. I’m still kind of upset about it. (Lost some readers in the process of fixing it by migrating from one feed to another.)

    Have you read The Age of Miracles? I loved it and, yes, it’s sort of about the world ending (uh-oh) but not in an immediate-death-and-destruction way.

    The Language of Flowers was also beautiful, but I think I remember crying during parts of it. Things get steadily better, though, as opposed to steadily worse.

  2. jen

    #1: Isn’t that the most frustrating thing ever??? The one command I think I use most often in stripping extraneous code from my MySQL database is Ctrl-F because you can find mistakes and usually replace them that way.

    #4: It’s not trendy but it seems like once you buy one thing on Amazon.Com, they peg you as wanting things of that nature forever.

  3. Erin

    If you want some quick, funny fluff to read in 30 sec snatches in the bathroom, read Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad Is Fat.” He and his wife have 5 kids and you will especially like how he addresses the “Are you done?” question and all the implications of it.

    • Tara Sz.

      Glad I glanced through the other comments, I was going to recommend Jim Gaffigan as well. The Mr. Universe special on Netflix almost put me into labor.

  4. Micaela @ California to Korea

    I just moved from Blogger to WordPress and it was a nightmare. Still is, actually, as I’m trying to figure out the inlinkz tools, RSS feeds etc. And I oaid someone to help me! (She did a great job, BTW, just normal snags which are so normal that they apparently cause insanity.) Blah blah blah. Sorry about the freaking *white space* that caused your technological and emotional metldowns. I feel ya, sister.

    Thanks for the book rec. Must check it out.

    When I lived in Spain in college, we ate the big midday meal and then a light supper, but that was at 9 or 10 p.m. I agree about no heavy meals in the evening, though. Now, if only I could actually put it into practice…

  5. nancyo

    Books: I recently read Colleen Carroll Campbell’s book My Sisters the Saints and I absolutely loved it. Given all the positive reviews out there I expected to like it but it far exceeded expectations. I actually started reading slower as I got to the final chapters because I didn’t want it to end! It’s memoir not fiction though. And I just started Mother Dolores Hart’s memoir Ear of the Heart (which I feature in my Quick Takes this week). Sarah Reinhardt raves about Falling for Your Madness (which is fiction) so I downloaded it on my Kindle, but haven’t read it yet.

  6. Melody

    haha! I love the video!! I was trying to think of book recommendations for you, but when I read fiction it is usually fantasy, and it is just too weird (or dark and twisted) for some people lol.

  7. Wendy

    Read anything by Peter Mayle! British journalist who moved to France and all the “adventures” he has had to deal with. A Good Year was turned into a movie starring Russell Crowe. Lovely fun. As well as his novels which are easy on the mind! No sex or swearing. Light hearted capers, so to say.
    Brendan O’Carroll. He wrote some light bios of his family in Ireland. Had me laughing and crying in the same sentance at times!

    As far as eating patterns go, I was raised with “Eat like a king for breakfast, like a prince for lunch and like a pauper for supper”. Not a bad mantra really. You need the best start to your day, enough fuel to see you through the afternoon and not much in the dinner hour as we usually do a lot less in the evenings. You should eat food with the thought that it is fuel. How much, what kind, will get me to the next meal.

    The video is great although 3am is not the time of day for this kind of laughter!!!

  8. PatJ61

    The extra space thingy happened in an online class I was teaching. It shifted the class so it was half offscreen. I screamed.

    Books- Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. Yes, they are murder mysteries, which DOES involve an occasional dead body, but she is THE BEST author I’ve read in a long time. Trust me.

    Beach Boys- my laughter scared my cat.

    Cheers and may the summer end early for you and your family.

  9. SophieMiriam

    Ooh, I know this one! Have you read In This House of Brede? It’s about a woman in her 40s or 50s who (to the horror of all her friends) chucks her successful business and goes to join a cloistered Benedictine monastery.

    • Sarah Smith Bartel

      LOVE This House of Brede! Read it!

      Other faves: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, and Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry.

  10. Mary-andering Creatively


    Glad you worked everything out. This post is my first official post. I found the hop last week to late to participate, but made it a point to download your template and participate. I enjoy the format and also reading other posts. 😉

  11. Smoochagator

    Wow. That video is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen but you’re right, it is inexplicably delightful. Reminds me of the years-long obsession with End of World Dot Net. (Language warning. No, seriously, many many eff bombs await at that link.) I don’t know why, but every single time I watch it, it’s funnier.

    I’m telling you, Jen, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Texas Tourism Department constantly shutting your blog down. I live in a pretty hot, humid area, and I’ve visited Fort Smith, Arkansas in July and central Florida in September. But because of you, I am terrified of Texas (scorpions! soul-crushing heat!) which is not so great since for some reason my husband is convinced that we need to live there someday.

  12. Camille

    I love the book Kristin Lavransdatter. Not exactly super light reading, but not totally depressing and really, really good. She becomes like an old friend after a while (its a long book) and it sticks with you. So good.

    • Emily B

      Kristin Lavransdatter has been recommended to me by many people as their favorite book! i have yet to read it but I just started “My Antonia” by Willa Cather that has also been recommended by many. So far, so good.

  13. Meghan

    Oh boy. I had seen links to The Beach Boys without autotune, but the title never engaged me. But when a trustworthy finder of funny videos posts it, you better believe I’ll watch and giggle the whole time. Thank you for that.

  14. Amelia

    I really like fluff murder mystery books….they are really light…and while of course there is a murder, they really don’t have too many heavy themes other than that. My favorite author is Joanne Fluke…her books are super light…entertaining….no heavy themes and no sexual immorality from the main heroine. They are total fluff…but sometimes you just need fluff.

    I’m going to go check out that writing book now!

  15. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    I think you would like The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. I just read a snippet of it and thought, “I bet Jen would like this.”

    Thanks for the book tip, I might have to read it so I can blog more often!

  16. Cari

    Pretty sure that Beach Boy video just killed me.

  17. Becky

    The problem is that modern publishers have decided that all the good, lighthearted, pleasant books have already been written, so they won’t publish those books any more. Go back a few decades. Nothing beats P.G. Wodehouse. Reread all your Charles Dickens. If you like science fiction at all try Keith Laumer. In the fantasy world Terry Pratchett is almost as good as P.G.Wodehouse. And I strongly recommend going back to books you enjoyed as a child. If they were good you will be amazed at how much you did not get out of them when you read them before and you will be glad you read them again. All the Narnia books, Misty of Chincoteague, Winnie the Pooh books.


    • JC

      “In the fantasy world Terry Pratchett is almost as good as P.G.Wodehouse.”

      Or, for that matter, there’s Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker “Trilogy” for science fiction (if you haven’t read it already). I guess the series does kind of open with the earth being destroyed, albeit in a very comical way.

      • Ruth G

        Thumbs up to the Terry Pratchett recommendation – it can be pretty light and funny, or you can dig into the layers of the satire if you want (which is often funny). There are some more intense books, but they are all pretty clean and good. “Guards! Guards!” or “The Color of Magic” are both good places to start.
        (First comment here, but I just had to chime in a vote for Terry Pratchett!)

  18. julie


    I’m reading “Secret Keeper” by …I don’t know too lazy to get up and check…. pretty easy read, found it on Kindle and enjoying it.

  19. Lauren (LPatter)

    I may have recommended it before, but I LOVE Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. So simple, beautiful, and open to the experiences of such a ranges of readers (i.e. relate-able on the plane of universal human experience). Some emotional moments but nothing dark or twisted. Beautiful sense of family and “place.” There are others in his Port William series but I haven’t read them.

    The other that I love is a play: The Tidings Brought to Mary – by Paul Claudel. Beautiful themes of self-giving and trust!

    • sara mcd

      Yes! My favorite of the Port William series. A great stand-alone novel too. I love Berry’s non-fiction also.

  20. eliese

    Have you ever read Mark Helprin? Not exactly “light” reading (his latest, In Sunlight and in Shadow is over 700 pages) but he is AMAZING. Even though his characters deal with some heavy situations, I always feel uplifted from reading his books as they approach their circumstances with hope, determination, and love. I’m 400-some pages into the latest and it’s very good. A Soldier of the Great War is a classic; for incredible short stories try The Pacific; for a hilarious (yet still meaningful) read try Freddy and Fredericka.

    • eliese

      Oh, and just for fun, the last time I was postpartum I read the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. Lots of fun, nothing serious. Can easily be read in little chunks, ideal stuck-in-a-chair-nursing books.

      • Becky

        Oh, yes, of course. And the rest of Alexander McCall Smith, especially the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series. If you have seen them on tv, don’t think that really has much to do with the books.

  21. Kirsten


    Some time ago I was sick of all the dark, depressing reads out there aswell. My friend suggested I read “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (Jonas Jonasson) and behold, within 5 pages I was smiling from ear to ear! It’s light, it’s funny and it also gives new insight in historical moments, all through the eyes of the very unusual yet sympathetic 100 year old Allan.

  22. Annie

    I started reading Defending Jacob because so many people were raving about it, but I had to quit after a few chapters because it was just too dark. I just finished Calling me Home by Julie Kibler. Like The Help, but with a love story. Sweet story, good for summer.

  23. Maia

    Checking that e-book out post haste. As for boredom, my oldest wrote a note and taped it to the front door, “Friends, please come and play.” An SOS from the boredom that reigns here.

  24. JC

    “So give me some suggestions for light reads.”

    Here are a few suggestions for reasonably light reading:
    –“Eifelheim” (Michael Flynn, Sci-Fi) is good though it does have a kind-of sad ending (it is set in part during the 14th Century in Europe)
    –“The Last Crusader” (Louis de Wohl, historical/adventure) is pretty good and follows the life of Don Juan of Austria. I also kind of liked his “Restless Flame” (about Saint Augustine).
    –“The Man Who Was Thursday” (G.K. Chesterton, Mystery), which can be obtained free on kindle (along with some of Chesterton’s other stories: I’d also recommend “Four Faultless Felons” and the “Father Brown” mysteries).

    And props to the person who recommended Terry Pratchett, his stuff is definitely light (comical).

  25. Lissy

    I so hear you about fiction these days! Have you read any books by Maeve Binchy? The characters seem like real people — i.e., their lives aren’t perfect — but everything always turns out well. They are such a delight to read. They are also easily readable a chapter at a time, since she often switches characters (points of view, I mean) with each chapter. Try the newest (and last), “A Week in Winter.”

    • LIssy

      I should qualify the recommendation, though — I have only read a few of her books and I am just discovering that some of them are a bit, um, racier than others. But “A Week in Winter” is wonderful.

  26. Laura

    Thanks so much for asking #4. I’ve been looking for some light, but intelligent summer reading and I’m having a hard time coming up with good options.
    I want to second the Alexander McCall Smith suggestion. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series is one of my favs.

  27. Elena@ My DOmestic Church

    This is probably why I will never leave blogger! I’m just sure that the headache that follows would give me an ulcer! I might consider paying to have it done but at this time blogger meets me needs so I’m staying put! Glad you got your issues worked out!

  28. caitie rose

    Okay.. I’m embarrassed to even say this.. Will I get kicked off the linksy? I don’t know. But is that Beach Boys thing real? Or did someone dub over? Its just sooo good!! LOL

  29. Bley

    For a light, funny, well-written read, try D.E. Stevenson, particularly Miss Buncle’s Book or Mrs. Tim of the Regiment.

  30. Erin

    Moo by Jane Smiley. Very light and funny, no horrible drama.

  31. Michelle

    Thank you for that book suggestion! Off to order…

    Also, I had gotten myself into a good rhythm of no eating in the evenings…I have my crossfit workout around 5:30 and I’m really not hungry after. But then this week for some reason I went back to eating a dinner after. I agree…the weight comes off much faster if I can eat most of my calories before 3:00 p.m.!

  32. Considerer

    What did you JUST DO to my favourite song ever? I shall never be able to listen to it with a straight face again!

    As for a light, enriching, fulfilling read, you can do little better than Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’

  33. Amy

    Thank you for the book recommendation! I got “2000 to 10,000” for free from the Kindle lender’s library for Amazon Prime members.

    I loved the book “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani.

  34. Kira

    The Beach Boys video made me laugh until my children were afraid I was losing my mind. Again.
    I recommend any of Joshilyn Jackson’s books. She does have some dark themes, but lots of grace notes. Maybe not her latest one, “A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty” just because there’s a dead baby in it, but it’s still a great book.

  35. MargoB

    I second Becky’s suggestion of Marguerite Henry’s horse books (http://www.amazon.com/Misty-Chincoteague-Marguerite-Henry/dp/1416927832), for one.

    Some of my all-time favorites are Ellis Peters’ “Brother Cadfael” series. Yes, they’re mysteries, but not gruesome. The absolute best part is that they’re set in the 12th century, in Shrewsbury, the hub of which is a Benedictine monastery. The monastic life is a vibrant background, and Cadfael himself is the sort of man one would want for a spiritual director: focused on things of heaven, but very down-to-earth. Here’s a link: http://andreys.chez.com/Cadfael/english/enquetes.htm

    George MacDonald is fun in the original Scottish, but Michael Phillips (through Bethany House Publishers) has edited his novels and anglified the language (mostly), whilst retaining MacDonald’s fine storyline. One of my favorites is *The Laird’s Inheritance*.

  36. Megan

    I recommend “In Search of Eden” by Linda Nichols. One of my favorites. Not light, not without some sadness, but uplifting and in the end, downright joyful. I’m 6 months pregnant and can’t bring myself to read anything that might put me in a state of inconsolable tears…but I just finished this one again and it was gentle on my many, many, many emotions. 🙂 Hope you find some great reads!

  37. Anabelle @Written By The Finger of God

    I have fallen in love with Christian Southern chick lit –light, funny and sweet as the Southern iced tea. Rachel Hauck’s “Sweet Caroline,” Kristin Billerbeck’s “She’s out of control” series, Denise Hildreth Jones’ “Savannah from Savannah” series. I was a non fiction reader till I discovered those authors. I can’t stand the dark/twisted/racy/depressing secular recent novels either.

  38. Nichole

    Since you asked… Read “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan! It’s about as light and fluffy as it gets. Actually, it’s the written equivalent to watching stand-up comedy. I’m sure you’re familiar with him, but just in case you haven’t run across his stuff on Netflix, give it a search and check it out. Hilarious!
    Wow, you asked to recommend a book and here I am, talking about comedy specials on Netflix. Keepin’ it intellectual, as always.

  39. Lisa Schmidt

    Jen, this may be a double-dangerous recommendation, but I’m making it. I agree with the Dad is Fat recommendation. Then follow up by reading Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray. Might be inspiration for your second memoir titled, “How Mom Got All in Shape and Then Got Fat.” Jeanne’s book tells the story of a woman who found baking cakes to be a source of relief from the stresses of life. It’s a fun, quick summer read.

  40. Laura Pearl

    I always look forward to these posts!#2 is so funny. And as for #4, someone mentioned Maeve Binchy, and she is wonderful. I recommend “Circle of Friends” as a great summer read–it’s one of my faves. (I would also be happy to send you a copy of my Catholic novel, a coming of age love story with pro-chastity and pro-life messages. You’re probably not interested…but I thought I’d throw that out there.)

    And finally, #7: hilarious!

  41. Sharon Holland

    I looked through my books on Goodreads to see what fits your criteria, an I think in general the currently published pleasant, non-soul-crushing books tend to be memoirs, playful science-fiction, or classics. So here are some suggestions:

    Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
    American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
    Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle
    A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie HUdson
    A Fine and Pleasant Misery by Patrick McManus
    Weeds in Bloom by Robert Newton Peck

    The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
    The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
    The Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis (some of these are dark, but others are lighthearted)

    Classics (anything from these authors):
    PG Wodehouse
    Jerome K Jerome
    Elizabeth Goudge
    H. Rider Haggard
    Jules Verne

    • Nolan

      I think the Thursday Next books are more Fantasy than Sci-fi, but I strongly second that recommendation. Jennifer would find a lot in common with Thursday in the most recent book!

  42. Amy S.

    Any book by Lisa Lutz. My favorite are The Spellman Files. Laugh-out-loud funny

  43. epk

    ENCHANTMENT by Orson Scott Card was just what I needed when I didn’t want to think while reading. Totally entertaining and an interesting plot idea — Sleeping Beauty fairytale brought to life AND time travel.
    Also The Crusades Trilogy by Jan Guillou — first book is called THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM. Interesting and entertaining historical fiction about a young man who grew up in a monastery and ended up being sent to the crusades for 20 years as penance. Guillou’s Catholic knowledge is questionable at times, but thoroughly worth reading.

  44. Amanda

    I am the same way after I have a baby, I cannot handle reading anything dark. Oftentimes I re-read The Hobbit or Harry Potter (the first three books) or something else familiar. If you’re into Sci-Fi/Fantasy then Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books are good and not dark at all. Masterharper of Pern would be my favorite and likely the least Sci-Fi of all of them. Jane Austen is pretty much always a safe read to just enjoy witty remarks and light storylines without anything dark. The Time Traveler’s Wife was shockingly good and the audio version is fantastic.

  45. Becky

    Wow, I read that story about the family who lives in the mountains–its’ amazing!

    I can understand why you laugh until you cry when you watched that video. Where the heck do you find those things???

  46. Kelly

    Sorry that I keep breaking the rules about the 7 quick takes post. I just really needed to do my trip post before I lost the motivation to upload all those pictures and forgot the witty captions I had in mind.

    I do NOT know how people in Texas and in the South in general survive the summers! Ugh, I struggle with the Philadelphia summers. So God bless you. I pray for a trip to Canada for you, or the North Pole or something.

  47. Diane H.

    I recommend any book by Lisa Genova. Once you read one, you’ll want to read the others. And no, they are not a series. They are Still Alice, Love Anthony, and Left Neglected. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

  48. Sarah

    How light are we talking? The Sword in the Stone (the first book of The Once and Future King) is nice, although the subsequent books get progressively sadder. My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop are both beautiful books that left me feeling happy and satisfied. The Moviegoer was a little weird but really good. Most of C.S. Lewis’ fiction also stands up to repeated readings and is very comforting.

  49. Dwija {House Unseen}

    Oh my gosh. I just laughed so hard at that video. SO HARD. Thank you. Really needed that today!!!

  50. Will

    4: I wholeheartedly endorse those that suggested PG Wodehouse. The Jeeves and Wooster stories are absolutely delightful, and they never fail to put a smile on my face. There are some cheap collections on Amazon Kindle, the only downside being you tend to get duplicate stories from time to time.

    For something less silly, but still a great read, get the Patrick O’Brien novels starting with “Master and Commander.” There’s only 21 of them, so plan accordingly.

    • nancyo

      Oh, my husband and daughter were obsessed with the Master and Commander books – very well done.

  51. syd

    If you want _really_ light fiction reading, try Jan Karon’s novels about an Episcopal minister, Father Tim. She writes about food a lot in them, and they make me feel cozy when I need it. I pretty much abstain from fiction, and I read 98% non-fiction and biographies. However, these are like an old friend that feeds you delicious treats.

    The first one is At Home in Mitford.

    I also enjoy The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith. They are mysteries, but they are very light-hearted and very enjoyable. They take place in Botswana, which makes me feel breezy and summer-y. 🙂

  52. Nobody Atall

    The first half of the years is a loss? ??? You had a baby and finished a novel and it’s a loss? ??? What is wrong with you girlfriend? ??? Sounds like an attitude adjustment is needed. A loss? Really ???

  53. Gina

    For something really light and sweet and fluffy, try Rainbow Rowell’s “Attachments.”

    Also, Syd’s recommendation of the Mitford novels is a good one.

  54. Lisa

    We’ve found, too, that there’s good wisdom in the big lunch, light supper plan. This is how the farmers used to eat back in the day — and even though we don’t do the same kind of heavy labor, my husband, especially, has fewer stomach issues when we follow that plan. It’s got to be better to not be digesting a big meal while we sleep, right?

    I’m also a little disgusted with the heavy drama, bad ending type books recommended by Amazon — and love to find well-written “cozies” to curl up with. They’re not heavy literature, but they make me feel better, make me smile, don’t leave me with a heavy heart. I think it’s odd that almost all the heavy, depressing stuff is classified under “literature,” though. And not a light happy piece to be find in that category. What’s that all about?

  55. Nolan

    Have you read any of the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde? He manages to be both hilarious and suspenseful at the same time, and its even funnier if you have at least a basic acquaintance with classic literature. You would probably find a lot in common with Thursday in the most recent book.

  56. Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

    I love all the book idea sharing! I’m adding them to my Amazon cart so I can remember them, and then I’m going to check them out from our library. I’ve decided to start taking advantage of the library more.

    If you want really light weight but truly funny and fun books, The Shopaholic Series is fabulous. You don’t have to be a big shopper to appreciate it.

    If you want something with more depth, try Proof of Heaven. My mom just recommended that to me and based on her description I can’t wait to read it. Apparently it’s about a neurologist who was brain dead for a period of time and thus knows his heaven experience must have been real (not a dream) because his brain was literally not functioning. My mom said that was interesting, but she was equally fascinated by its exploration of adoption (he was adopted by a wonderful family but still feels like having his biological family give him up still impacted him, so he explores how early our spirits are aware).

    Glad your RSS feed is back up and running. I was wondering what was going on with it.

  57. Adrian Gallacher

    The Beach Boys is a scream! As I’m writing from Scotland I can safely declare it’s international appeal. I was almost sore.
    I’d second the Father Brown books. On the Dickens front, he does have some shorter stories such as The Uncommercial Traveller and American Notes. Have you read To Russia With God ? The details behind He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek compelling reading. With a Happy Ending. Padre Pio The True Story by Bernard Ruffin is also a big and fantastic read. But now I realise I’ve strayed into non-fiction. I find it hard not to!
    Thanks once again for a great post. God Bless.

  58. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    Aren’t tech issues the modern day equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack? So frustrating! Glad yours resolved itself eventually. :)Hope this new host is the bees knees for you now!

    As for books being dark, I feel that way about movies these days! Must all movies have zombies, vampires, aliens and eventual demise of the human race?
    Thanks for the book recommendation on improving writing – will def have to check it out.

    Have a wonderful weekend and countdown to July!

  59. Jana

    Whenever I want a satisfying light read, I pull out my Anne of Green Gable books. All nine of them (The Blythes are Quoted was released a few years ago as book 9). The language is beautiful and the stories are filled with innocence and love. I convinced one of my coworkers to re-read them, it had been 40 years, and she thanked me profusely when she did. There is something magical about them. I love the religious expectations of the community and the maxims quoted throughout. I think much of the advice still applies today.

  60. Catherine Post

    I think you might like “Travels with Charley: In Search of America” by John Steinbeck. It is the story of Steinbeck who, at age 58, wanted to set out on the road with his dog, Charley, & experience America. Any difficulties that he encounters seem to me to be far removed from your present life, Jen. Here it is on Amazon:


  61. Catherine

    Agatha Christie is my go-to for light reading. The Miss Marple short stories are the best! But I am going to check out Jim Gaffigan now, after all the recommendations of Dad is Fat!

  62. Dwija {House Unseen}

    Just came back so my husband could watch that video and laughed even harder the second time. The clapping! Oh my gosh the clapping….

  63. J.R. Baldwin

    I am SO EXCITED for that book you found – on my kindle now! In terms of reading, I am finishing ‘All the King’s Men’ by Robert Penn Warren, but that may be too heavy unless you listen to it – which is how I am currently getting through it, purely for time purposes. I can still listen and do other things! I adore Agatha Christie novels and short stories, if you’d still like a darker edge!

  64. Lindsay

    I have accidentally broken my whole website many times. Usually deleting the htaccess file in the root directory will fix it. I don’t think I’ve ever broken just my RSS feed before, though.

    For lighthearted books, I can really only recommend YA, because that’s all I read. If you like legends, “Avalon High” by Meg Cabot is a retelling of the most famous parts of Arthurian legend. “Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor” by Allen Hunt is also good. And “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer” by Lish McBride is a YA dark comedy, and I did not find it sacrilegious.

  65. Amanda

    If you’re looking for pretty much a completely light, fun read, try the Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz! Hilarious!

  66. JL

    I just read Rumer Godden’s “In this House of Brede,” and loved it. I love anything by Elizabeth Goudge as well.

  67. Lani

    Have you read any PG Wodehouse? He’s nothing but light silliness that gives you wonderful laughs.

  68. Cynthia

    Is it in poor taste to recommend books you haven’t read yet? My mother is in a book club and most recently recommended “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s about a WWII POW and supposedly is very good and inspiring. I would let you know what I think…but, it’s on my desk as we speak, unopened. I’ll begin soon 🙂

    Another book I was super skeptical of, but ended up loving was “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. I find myself giving a big eye-roll to Christian books that try to also tackle the romance genre, but this one was actually really well-written and engaging. Light and heavy all at the same time (it tackles the story of Hosea and Gomer from the OT). I have more…but I’m pretty sure you didn’t ask for this long of a comment already.

    Happy reading!

  69. Carlos Fidalgo

    Go get Irene Nemirovsky’s “Suite Francaise” real quick. That’s real literature instead of some big department store “staff picks” or whatever.

  70. Jessica

    What a fabulous set of book recommendations!

    My two cents: Any Jane Austen that you haven’t read!

    And in the fantasy department: The Last Unicorn – it is an absolutely beautiful, whimsical read.

  71. TracyE

    thanks for the ebook rec, I just bought it. Since I’ve barely written TWO words this week, maybe it will bump me up to TEN by next week!!

    The BB vid is horrible….oh my goodness…maybe I can even sing with autotune….so funny!!

  72. Becky Castle Miller

    Thanks for the writing book recommendation. I just bought a copy. Looking forward to reading it when my brain is a little less fried.

  73. leah

    I second the Jan Karon recommendation…when I need some serious feel-good reading, I read through her Mitford series. Love them!!!!

  74. Allison

    Have you read any Alexander McCall Smith?Fantastic light reading. Mostly good clean fun. Clever writing and very entertaining characters. He’s most famous for the No. 1 ladies Detective Ageny but the Scotland Street Series is my favourite.

  75. LeAnna

    Whenever I’m feeling stressed and in need of a pick-me-up I return to my favourite childhood novels (the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series, although the last one is rather sad, and ‘Little House on the Prairie’), with some Jane Austen mixed in there as well. Anthony Trollope’s novels are good fun as well, and there are tonnes of them.

  76. Michele

    Is it a sign of my true Catholic nerdiness that I read your first sentence (about the host transfer) and immediately had a mental image of a host being transferred at Mass?

  77. Jamie

    I love how you share your feelings about summer right after Hallie’s “SUMMER IS AWESOME!!!” post. I think you two are proof that opposites attract 🙂

    Loving all these great book recommendations! I’m almost done with “How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm” and it’s a fun read. Nonfiction about parenting in different cultures around the world – sure to make you feel a little better about your own parenting skills… 😉

  78. Marie

    1) Horrible heat. I was on an e-mail list with a woman who lived in Arizona. They homeschooled through the summer because it was too hot to do anything anyway and skied for 3 months in the winter. You probably want to skip the skiing, but you aren’t stuck to the public school schedule.
    2) Books to read – like the only commenter I had time to read (sorry, I’m on a borrowed computer) I reread old favorites when I’m stressed because I know what they contain and can select ones that won’t make the situation worse. Have you tried Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series? Agatha Christie?

  79. Bonnie

    The Beach Boys video: Okay, LOLLLLLLLLLL!!!! I think it was the thigh slapping that started it, then the sound of an electric guitar without the amp, but then the more thigh slapping. Tooo funnnnny!

  80. Karen LH

    Are you familiar with Edna Ferber? Much of her work is in the public domain.

  81. Laura

    Like many other commenters, I recommend Alexander McCall smith, in this house of brede, and Jim gaffigan. … And I do hope you’re hyperbolizing about calling the first half of 2013 a loss.

  82. Maura

    Thank you, Jen, for your wonderful blog. I have been a silent reader of it for years.

    The book that is at the very top of my list is The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, by Rod Dreher, reviewed here on Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/06/10303/

    As a Catholic school English teacher, who taught for the past two years in rural Louisana with the Alliance for Catholic Education program, I have been fascinated with questions of place and the impact of community. Although I can’t promise that this book won’t have a lot of suffering in it (it is an autobiographical sketch of Dreher himself and a “hagiography” of his sister, who died of cancer), it seems to have a more uplifting tone.

    Although Flannery O’Connor would have to say this about that:

    “I once received a letter from an old lady in California who informed me that when the tired reader comes home at night, he wishes to read something that will lift up his heart. And it seems her heart had not been lifted up by anything of mine she had read. I think that if her heart had been in the right place, it would have been lifted up.”

  83. Pat the Protestant

    You may have to use Amazon and go to used books but I’d recommend The City of Bells, and The Blue Hills, both by Elizabeth Goudge. They were written over 60 years ago but I bet you’d like them.

  84. Ellen

    For lightest reading, I’d recommend “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty. Don’t know if its light enough, but there was nothing more than some middle class angst in there. No babies with torn off limbs, etc.

  85. Ellen

    Oops, I meant “lightish” reading. It’s about a middle aged woman who hits her head and forgets everything about the last 20 years of her marriage, including that its on the rocks. I got hooked.

  86. Ingrid

    I have been paying attention to eating later in the evening and have found the same stomach problem. Especially if I eat any type of meat, it seems like my stomach has to work all night at trying to digest it and my sleep is definitely affected! I am Colombian so you would think I would know better!

  87. JJ

    Jen, my new favorite author is Athol Dickson who wrote River Rising, The Cure and a few other stories. I read River Rising in one day. It was riveting! His point of view is just so different from other fiction authors I have read lately. If you haven’t read his work, I suggest you do so. Enjoy, oh, and be sure to put dinner in the crock pot after breakfast so you don’t forget to make dinner. You’ll be reading..

  88. Becky

    I have been waiting to see if this question would get answered without me having to ask it, but it hasn’t, so I will. Why would anyone want to read all your blog posts without visiting your website?

    • Becky

      I’m afraid that did not come out sounding the way I meant it to. I mean, why would anyone NOT want to visit your website? Is there anyone here who is experiencing woe due to this broken feature?

  89. Jeannine

    A suggestion for summer reading: anything by Georgette Heyer! The Happy Catholic got me started reading Heyer, and I am so grateful to her! Try “Sylvester: Or, the Wicked Uncle,” “The Grand Sophie,” “Venetia,” or “Frederica.” Humor, delightful characters, and non-explicit romance.

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