Gentle books to slow things down

Gentle is a positive emotion – not a passive one. When we look for a gentle read, we are often searching for a story full of compassion and humanity – a story that will reveal that there are good people in the world who choose to live their lives at a slower pace and value relationships that thrive on tenderness and kindness.

Gentle books are often charming and delightful in their settings, celebrating a quiet existence with pleasing descriptions and moderate language. Others are heart-warming, delighting in sympathetic characters who become almost friends. And then there are life’s misfits – often the central focus of these stories - who tread a different path, but with gentle courage, charm and perseverance. These have become our literary heroes – and you will meet many within the pages of this selection.

Search for books by Mood & Emotion

Brendel's Fantasy

Gunther Freitag

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Abbi Waxman

The Girls

Lori Lansens


Chris Keil


Andrew Sean Greer

Philosophy Made Simple

Robert Hellenga

Three Bags Full

Leonie Swann

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Farahad Zama

Dressing Up for the Carnival

Carol Shields


Paul Harding

Footnotes to Sex

Mia Farlane

Of Things Gone Astray

Janina Matthewson

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett

Some Things Matter: 63 Sonnets

James Nash

River, Cross My Heart

Breena Clarke

The Offing

Benjamin Myers

Another Gulmohar Tree

Aamer Hussein

The Sad Truth About Happiness

Anne Giardini

Heaven and Hell

Jon Kalman Stefansson

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead

The Short Day Dying

Peter Hobbs

Ugly Duckling

Amita Mukerjee


Eleanor Bailey

The Buffalo Thief

Yojana Sharma

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue

Emmanuelle Pagano

The Funnies

J.Robert Lennon

The Dawning

Karin Kallmaker

Apocalypse for Beginners

Nicholas Dickner


Lily Prior

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery

Dona Nicanora's Hat Shop

Kirstan Hawkins

Winona's Web

Priscilla Cogan

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Things My Mother Told Me

Tanya Attapattu


Anita Brookner

11 Emerald Street

Hugh O'Donnell

The Shieling

David Constantine

The Page Turner

David Leavitt

The End of the Alphabet

C S Richardson

The School of Night

Alan Wall

Ada's Rules

Alice Randall

The Opposite of Falling

Jennie Rooney

Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather

Pierre Szalowski

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes

Billy Collins


Julian Fellowes

Pages for Her

Sylvia Brownrigg

Touchy Subjects

Emma Donoghue

Perfect Tense

Michael Bracewell


Kathleen Tessaro

The Hope Family Calendar

Mike Gayle