Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

An uplifting book recommendation please

(84 Posts)
NanKate Sat 18-Nov-23 11:31:41

My oldest friend of over 61 years phoned me today to say she is going into hospital for a breast cancer op. 🙁

I don’t live near her but want to send a book or something to pass the time when she is recovering.

She is a pragmatic sort of person and just gets on with life. So I want to send her a gift which is not flowery or sentimental in any way.

I think a non-fiction book would be good, possibly with humour. Do you have any suggestions please ?

keepcalmandcavachon Sat 18-Nov-23 11:41:27

Bill Bryson .Notes from a Small Island is funny and charming.
Marcia Willet's books are warm hearted without being cloying and the Shardlake books by CJ Sansom are wonderfully atmospheric if your friend likes Tudor history ( so much from that era on TV so we can easily 'picture' it)
Hope everything goes well for your friend.

Nannarose Sat 18-Nov-23 11:52:53

I find poetry very useful when concentration is difficult.
I recommend Spell Songs, if she likes illustrations. This link is to the main shop: (I think Lucky Girl has a connection) but the book is available elsewhere.
Or Brian Bilston's poetry is funny and engaging.

Another suggestion (I think mentioned in another post) is a familiar book such as any of the classics that you know she likes. I love comfort re-reads.

Hope is goes well.

NanKate Sat 18-Nov-23 12:27:08

Thanks for these excellent suggestions 👍

eazybee Sat 18-Nov-23 14:42:48

Next To Nature Ronald Blythe (Akenfield)
Reflections on a lifetime in the English countryside, each chapter set out as a month. Gentle and witty, and excellent for dipping in to.

Judy54 Sat 18-Nov-23 14:56:51

Yes I agree a book of poetry would be great. Also perhaps short stories that can be picked up and put down and are not to heavy to read.

Aldom Sat 18-Nov-23 15:04:39

The funniest book I have ever read is The Moon's A Balloon by David Niven.
You might possibly be able to source a second hand copy. smile

HelterSkelter1 Sat 18-Nov-23 15:12:23

Margaret Attwood Burning Questions is a book you can dip in and out of.

grannydarkhair Sat 18-Nov-23 15:29:11

How about the All Creatures Great and Small books by James Herriot? I re-read them during COVID, still found them very funny in parts.

Devondumpling Sat 18-Nov-23 15:44:35

I have just written a very funny book about my recent 630 mile hike and camp along the South West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole.
It has had some really great feedback and reviews and definitely required pragmatism.
"I'm no Shakespeare: Walking the South West Coast Path" by Cheryl Dummer.
Send me a message and I'll send you a free e-copy.
It is also available as a paperback on Amazon.
Very best wishes to your friend.

Sparklefizz Sat 18-Nov-23 15:56:24

NanKate The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
if she's an animal lover. My daughter and I found it delightful.

Primrose53 Sat 18-Nov-23 17:42:45

Am enjoying “Finding Hildasay” by Chris Lewis. He is the ex paratrooper who walked the entire coastline of the UK to fight his depression and raise money for SAAFA who helped him when he was at his lowest.

merlotgran Sat 18-Nov-23 17:51:12

I like autobiographies written by people with a self deprecating sense of humour.

Two of my favourites are Nobbut a Lad by Alan Titchmarsh and Hungry by Grace Dent.

Sparklefizz Sat 18-Nov-23 18:10:37

When I was in hospital for a week, I had no concentration to read any sort of book, and could only read magazines. Perhaps a selection of magazines would be more appreciated NanKate?

Lucyd Sat 18-Nov-23 18:29:29

Would also recommend Bill Bryson especially The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid which is about his childhood in 1950s USa. Myblate husband always knew when I was reading a Bill Bryson book as I would start chortling. Any of James Herriot's books as they are a lovely nostalgic read. It is difficult to recommend a book for a stranger but I am sure your friend will appreciate whichever book you chose for her.

Bella23 Sat 18-Nov-23 18:40:21

I can't concentrate on a book for long when I've been in hospital either. How about a book of short stories about something your friend is interested in. My DD bought a book of a Poem for each day of winter, which was also lovely. Or an audiobook.I hope she makes a good recovery.

Allsorts Sat 18-Nov-23 18:41:04

I always reach for Bill Bryson if I’m down, he’s brilliant. Also find James Herriot nice light reading, Margaret Atwood depresses me even if I’m on top of tge world best avoided. Joan Collins is nice light reading. Do hope your friend makes a full recovery.

reelashosser Sat 18-Nov-23 18:53:12

My husband has dementia and I have been his carer for about 10 years. We have moved house to be nearer our son and his family, and I have very few friends here, and have had to cancel many holidays and outings in the last few years because of my husband's ill health. Consequently I take refuge in reading, and can recommend the following.

I have come across an American writer called Elin Hilderbrand who writes very good books set on the island of Nantucket. They are basically romances, but a little more than that. Although I am a lifelong reader of much more intellectual books, I now find that Hilderbrand's books are really uplifting and perfect escapes. I read on my phone as a rule, and use Apple books, which are slightly cheaper than Kindle.

If your friend has difficulty concentrating and finds printed books a little heavy to hold, I can really recommend the way I read.

NanKate Sat 18-Nov-23 19:53:34

What wonderful suggestions thanks folks. I now want to read many of these books myself.

‘Understanding the British’ by Adam Fletcher. I found this on the same page as the Bill Bryson books. I’ve sent for it as it looks very amusing.

Primrose53 Sat 18-Nov-23 20:32:56


I like autobiographies written by people with a self deprecating sense of humour.

Two of my favourites are Nobbut a Lad by Alan Titchmarsh and Hungry by Grace Dent.

I’ve read both of those and agree with you. Looking forward to seeing Grace on I’m a Celeb. 😉

Callistemon21 Sat 18-Nov-23 20:33:54


The funniest book I have ever read is The Moon's A Balloon by David Niven.
You might possibly be able to source a second hand copy. smile

I always regret sending my copy to the charity shop.

Callistemon21 Sat 18-Nov-23 20:40:15

Any Bill Bryson book apart from A Walk in the Woods which is rather boring.

The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin
Graham Norton books
The People on Platform Five by Clare Pooley

Callistemon21 Sat 18-Nov-23 20:41:45

I think a non-fiction book would be good, possibly with humour

I should RTT!

But worth an optimistic read anyway! 🙂

Greyduster Sat 18-Nov-23 20:57:31

I would second Grace Dent’s “Hungry”, but also “My Last Supper” by Jay Rayner. All his food related writings are very funny.

Primrose53 Sat 18-Nov-23 21:11:39

Just had another thought. Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson has written 4 books of his memoirs. They are really uplifting. They all have Beatles songs for his Book titles so I think the first one is This boy, another one is Mister Postman and then there’s The Long And Winding Road. Can’t remember title of most recent one.

He grew up in London slums in dreadful poverty after his father left the family. His Mum died when he was about 13 and it if wasn’t for his 16 year old sister he would have gone into care.

He writes really well. He has also written one fiction book The Last Train to Gypsy Hill and I enjoyed that.