Caroline says: I write, and read, crime fiction.
But at the end of the day my mind is racing, and I have been suffering from insomnia. Please could you recommend some soothing books that may help me sleep.
Anna says: This is a tricky one, as my go-to soothing read would be a nice murder.
Something in the vein of Christie or Sayers.
But under the circumstances, I shall move out of my comfort zone and steer clear of death.
Some of the most soothing books I have read recently have been nature writing, so I am going to recommend a couple of the best examples to you.
These are also great for bedtime reading, as they are episodic books, easy to dip in and out of for a chapter at a time.
If you’re not ready to dive head first into pure nature writing, then Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book could be a good one to start with.
In this book, the author of The Moomins tells the semi-autobiographical tale for adults of summers spent on an isolated island with her grandmother.
This is a book you read for how it makes you feel, not for what happens; the events of the
plot, or rather plots, are not really the point.
This is psychology meets nature writing.
Sophia and her grandmother mirror the idiosyncrasies of the island’s flora and fauna: in many ways they are another example of the weird and wonderful nature that develops in a remote environment.
It is all very atmospheric, and there is a mesmeric quality that is profoundly relaxing; the ideal way to soothe you off to sleep.
My second recommendation is Roger Deakin’s final book, Wildwood.
In this classic of the genre, our hero travels from his back garden at Walnut Tree Farm across the world
investigating our relationship with trees and woodland.
It is achingly beautiful writing from a man at peace with his place in the world.
Wildwood was my first foray into nature writing, and it blew me away.
It is everything that I hoped Walden would be, before I read it and realised Thoreau is more interested in judging other people than he is in enjoying himself.
Rarely has a book been so much less than the sum of its parts.
But Deakin is immersed in his environment; it wouldn’t occur to him to waste time or energy thinking about being anywhere else, or what anyone else might be doing.
His enthusiasm knows no bounds. This is life-affirming stuff and should send you off to sleep with a tranquil smile on your face.