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Upbeat Books for Elderly Parents

Janice in NJ

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Hello to all. I am looking for books to send to my parents to pass the time. Nothing too introspective or depressing (winters are already long and gloomy in upstate NY). 


They loved Boys in the Boat if that helps. :-)  


Advice please?  





Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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Books by Bob Tarte:  Enslaved by Ducks, Kitty Cornered, and one other I can't remember.  They are funny, life-with-animals stories that my mom and I really enjoyed.  :)


Based on the book you said they liked, they might also like the book about the Wright Brothers by David McCullough OR, a fave of dh's, My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams.  How fun to read those together!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bill Bryson--Life and Times of the Thunderbolt kid

This one is about Bill's childhood in the 1950s. It's a mix of hilarious cultural commentary and hilarious stories about Bill and the people he knew. 


If you like that one, virtually anything by Bill Bryson is worth a read. The other one I have given elderly parents is I'm a Stranger Here Myself.


Also, books by Richard Peck are typically thought of as kid books, but every adult I know who has read them, loves them. They are laugh-out-loud hilarious! And often poignant as well. Start with A Long Way from Chicago.


Another great author is Garrison Keillor, especially for the older generation. 


I second the recommendations for the Mitford books or Alexander McCall Smith, especially his Africa detective books.



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Although we loved The Thunderbolt Kid, there is a scene where he goes to the strip show at a carnival and realizes that the men in attendance were paying the woman for other services after the show. So if your parents are religious (or even feminist!) this might not be the book for them.

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"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Fehnman"  (a memoir, very entertaining, by one of the physicists on the Manhatten Project)

"Christy"  (fictionalized account of the young adult life of a Christian school teacher around 1900 in Appalachia)

"The Small Woman" by Gladys Aylward (bio of a missionary to China)

"Light in the Dark Belt" by Rosa Young (bio of a missionary teacher to African American sharecroppers in Alabama in the early to mid 1900s)

"The Ladies' Auxiliary" by Tova Mirvis (novel about a newcomer to an Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, encompassing one Jewish liturgical year)

"Advise and Consent" (an oldie but goodie political novel, fairly conservative but not heavy-handed in outlook)

"F in Exams" (SO funny!)


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As others have mentioned, the Mitford series by Jan Karon is very soothing, but it is very Christian so probably wouldn't work if your parents don't identify as Christians. It's about an Episcopal priest and his wife. They are in their 60s and he retires at some point in the series, so it's nice for older people to read about others in their same age bracket. The series is a glimpse into the life of a small mountain town in NC, and you can feel like you really get to know the people of the town. Though there are occasional sad things that happen, the trajectory of the books is peaceful and upbeat. They also have some very funny places. 


Someone also mentioned #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which is not so much about "detectives" as about reflections on cultural change and musings on human nature carried along by a plot to be solved by the two very different women at the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana. They are very pleasant reads as well. 


I like The Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch. Those are detective stories solving murders, but like many others, the actual murder is committed against someone whom the reader doesn't "know" so it's not heart-wrenching, and the background relationships between the detective and his friends is as engaging as the mystery to be solved. 


I love Lord of the Rings, especially for evenings around a fire in winter, but you probably are familiar with that already and obviously someone would have to like the fantasy epic genre which not everyone does. 

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I posted this in your other thread, too.


I'll recommend the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.  It is a series of about six books about an Italian priest and his nemesis the Communist mayor set in the 1950s in Italy. The priest sometimes talks to Christ on the cross who talks back to him.  The wikipedia entry will give you a good idea of the content of the series.  The first book is  The Little World of Don Camillo.




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