COLUMN: Charmed, I’m sure!

Goodhearted souls have forever sought a Prince or Princess Charming to carry them off into a fairy tale ending.

Goodhearted souls have forever sought a Prince or Princess Charming to carry them off into a fairy tale ending. But Charming is where you find it, and if you’re not into kissing frogs then a good summer read is your best bet.

I reached out to the Kingdom of Nelson Librarians and asked for their charming summer reading recommendations. Like the knights in shining armour they are, they all rose to the challenge of describing the books that charmed their chainmail socks off.

Says Shawna, “I was completely charmed by An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. The main character, a former child prodigy with a penchant for women named Katherine, tries to find meaning in his life and escape from his broken heart on a summer road trip with his best friend. Quirky and smart.”

In the book Soulless by Gail Carriger, Catherine describes a world of “Tea and treacle tarts, vampires, dirigibles and a never-ending supply of fabulous lines, such as ‘I may be a werewolf and Scottish, but despite what you may have read about both, we are not cads!’”

Margaret just finished Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. “I loved the settings (Manhattan and the backwoods of New York State), the quirky, well-drawn characters (main, supporting and canine) and the (somewhat) happy ending.”

Recognizing that dogs can turn the charm volume up like nobody’s business, she suggests the Chet and Bernie detective novels by Spencer Quinn, with titles like The Sound and the Furry and Paw and Order.

“I’m obviously a sucker for canine sidekicks,” she says.

It’s hard not to gobble up a good book. Helen suggests Delicious! by Ruth Reichl. “I enjoyed the brilliant food descriptions and learning about the secret out-of-the-way little specialty shops where great restaurants procure their food in New York. Add a likable heroine with secrets and her treasure hunt for the letters of a young girl to a great chef during World War II and you have a winning combination.”

In keeping with this tasteful theme, Helen also recommends The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, who “writes beautifully about a community of women bonded by secrets,” she says. “The hint of magic realism flavours the story with subtle and unexpected spices.”

On Heather’s list is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, set in a small village in an English countryside peopled with hilariously original characters, as well as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, in which the sweet but emotionally numb Harold receives a letter from his old friend Queenie and decides to deliver his return message on foot—600 miles away. “I love being charmed by a book,” says Heather.

I’m a closet reader of charming fiction, tempted to hide a delightful, quirky novel inside something more lofty, like Joyce or Hemingway. But on a summer day, in the shade with a tall cold glass of something, you might just find me drinking in the charm.

On my list: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, for the wonderful, fresh voice of writer Juliet Ashton describing the lives and the stories of an enchanting bunch of villagers who survived — rather well! — German occupation during the Second World War.

The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion is another: who knew a fumbling relationship between the brilliant aspergian Don and a quirky whirlwind Rosie could be so utterly endearing?

There’s plenty of time to read serious books, but summer is when the frogs start singing, the better to charm unsuspecting passersby. Kiss a heart-warming book and see what happens.


— Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library.

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