Okay, moms…and overly busy women everywhere…I’m going out on a sexist limb today to say that these ones are for you. Find a few minutes when the kiddos are playing with friends or, gasp, watching TV, or tucked into bed and go curl up with your own book. If it were me, I’d start it with a long, super-hot bath and a cup of tea. You do it your way. If your way involves ice cream, that’s even better.
Don’t feel guilty about this. You want your kids to see you reading. You want them to see you enjoying books for yourself. The example you are setting will go farther toward making them strong readers than any number of library trips where you never leave the children’s section. Check out Common Sense Media’s report on “Children, Teens, and Reading.” One of the things they found is that the few kids out there who are reading frequently are very likely to have parents who are readers. (You can read the full report here.) That’s data to backup your need stretch out by the pool with one of these books. This is what good parents do.
I already gave you a list of books to make you a better person. These ones are just to enjoy. No lofty goals. Nothing but relaxation. These books are romances, but not the kind that make you stutter over the title or hide the cover. These books take you backward and forward through time, but their nods to science fiction are brief, and you won’t get lost. These books will pull you in and help you lose yourself for while, but they aren’t total cotton candy. All three are thoughtful, so your brain can feel good as well as your heart. Let’s start with the one everyone’s heard of, just to get it out of the way, and finish up with one that no one’s talking about but which blew me away from the first page.
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – This one is world-famous and about to be a new TV show, so if you haven’t read it, now is the time. You could call it a time-travel romance because it is, but once the main character travels back from 1945 to 1743, it’s really just historical fiction for the rest of the book. This is a LONG book. It’s gritty and real. The time travel element adds serious interest to the dilemma that Claire, our out-of-time heroine, faces. The romance is solid, but the book is just as much about Claire’s journey and about the history of the time and place (pre-uprising Scotland). There are seven books in this series, and the time travel plays into the others even more than this one. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t like the other books nearly as much. But you should read Outlander all by itself, even if you don’t want to go on. It’ll satisfy the part of you that wants to wander the Scottish highlands. (Oh, please. Don’t pretend you don’t have that part of you.)
- The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – This one is also a bestseller (and 10 years old, which is making me feel ancient), but I’m still surprised how many people I meet who haven’t read it. Please read it. Then watch the lovely movie. But read it first. If you don’t know, it’s about a man who has a disorder that makes him involuntarily travel through time. It goes back and forth between the point of view of the husband and wife and handles the complexity of their relationship so beautifully. It will make you laugh and cry and sigh and cheer and then cry a little bit more. So basically, it’s perfect.
- Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto – I’m guessing you haven’t heard of this one, and I almost don’t even want to tell you what it is about because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Okay, here we go, no spoilers: Shelley and Max are young and happily married, when Max is unexpectedly killed. Three years later, a young man shows up at the widow’s door looking very like her dead husband and bringing information that will lead her on a search through Europe and through her life. This is a wonderful love story. It is warm and thoughtful and builds on itself as it takes you back and forth through history in a way that won’t let you put it down.
Go read! It will make your day better. I promise.