At the recent writer's conference that I attended, someone (I think it was Tracy Hickman) said something that sparked my interest. He said many authors have "edgy fatigue" and wished that there was a market for a more "gentle" sort of book. I found this fascinating, though it didn't really lead the panel to much further discussion on the issue. But in my head, the discussion took off!
What is edgy? And what is gentle? Do authors really yearn to be able to write a more gentle book? Do readers need it? Or are they, as was suggested, clamoring more for the edgy?
I use the term "gritty" interchangeably with edgy. To me it means pushing the envelope a bit. It means there's stuff in the book that may make you squirm a little. Perhaps the subject matter is hard. Perhaps there's lots of violence and street talk and rough characters. Perhaps there's parts that make you want to close your eyes in denial. "Stuff happens" in edgy books I would say.
However, in gentle books, there's not necessary a lot of stuff happening. It may be that it's more about the characters. It may be that it's more about relationships instead of stuff happening. The action, if any, is quieter and slower. People are perhaps, nicer. We might use the word "heart warming" for gentle books.
Let me be the first to say that I like both kind! Obviously, sometimes you are in the mood for one, and sometimes the other. But do you think that there's more of a market for the edgy? Do you think that if someone were to write a gentler book, no one would want to read it because it's boring and "nothing happens!"? I think there's a bit of truth in that. But I would hope that enough people are satisfied with a slower book such that there will in fact be a market for them.
So, what would I consider gentle books? I've been pondering, and it's a lot harder than you'd think to deem a book "gentle." Here's some that I've come up with:
1. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
2. At Home in Mitford Jan Karon
3. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons
5. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
7. My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
8. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
9. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
10. My Friend Flicka by Mary O'hara
What are your feelings on gentle books? Do they bore you? Are you looking for more action and edge? Or do appreciate the slowness of a gentle read? Do you agree with my list of gentle books? What would you add or take off this list?