The most entertaining books about relationships

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes
By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

I wrote...

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

What is my book about?

Hayley Swift, former queen of country music, is now 53 and hasn’t had a hit in years. Desperate, she agrees to a low-budget tour of the South that begins with her 35th high school reunion. When a wreck puts her back-up singers out of commission, the four friends she sang with in high school come to the rescue. As “The Girls Next Door” become “Hayley and the Hot Flashes” and hit the road, they discover new strengths and aspirations in spite of dealing with health issues, a crazed stalker, equipment malfunctions, and more. Lots of laughter and fun, but the story also touches on serious subjects: menopausal issues and treatments, work/life balance, and the importance of attitude versus age.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana

Why did I love this book?

This memoir is by a girl who grew up in a small town in Indiana where “people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.” That pretty much describes the town I grew up in—and there aren’t a lot of books about that life!

Zippy’s anecdotes revolve around friendship, sibling rivalry, beloved (and not so) neighbors, cherished pets, and riding bikes. Even though I grew up in central Florida, Kimmel’s midwestern world was a close echo of my own. Reading her accounts of memories similar to mine kept me laughing out loud throughout.

Bonus: a section talks about the poetry of Robert Frost versus that of James Whitcomb Riley, which, given that I am a serious lover of poetry, I especially enjoyed.

By Haven Kimmel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Girl Named Zippy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965 in Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.

To three-year-old Zippy, it made perfect sense to strike a bargain with her father to keep…

Book cover of You Are My Sunshine: A Story of Love, Promises, and a Really Long Bike Ride

Why did I love this book?

I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book this much.

Sean is a brilliant writer, and funny as all get out. We share a love of the South, a love of words, a fear of snakes, and an aversion to traffic. As I read, I earmarked nearly a dozen passages I shared with family and friends, like,Covid cases climbing like decisions at a Billy Graham crusade” and “I have nothing against fog machines and stage lights, but ordering a Starbucks in a church lobby just feels wrong."

His account of his and his wife’s bicycle trek down the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath trail put to rest once and for all any aspiration I harbored about walking the Appalachian Trail. Some things are better read about!

By Sean Dietrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are My Sunshine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A laugh-out-loud funny true story of a loving relationship, a grand adventure, and a promise kept.

It was only a few years after the starry-eyed young couple got married when scary news threatened to take the wind out of their sails. But Sean Dietrich's wife, Jamie, wouldn't let it. She dared to hope for and plan for a great big adventure, and she made him promise to do it with her. For love and the promise of biscuits along the way, Sean--who was never an athlete of any kind--undertook the bike ride of a lifetime and lived to talk about…

Prime of Life

By P D Bekendam,

Book cover of Prime of Life

Why did I love this book?

I’m always looking for books about older protagonists; this one is set in a nursing home, so many of the characters are seriously older, but the main character is an endearing, middle-aged janitor and his interactions with the residents made this book a hard one to put down.

Ben’s obsession with numbers and patterns figures throughout the whole story, as does a previous life he’s attempted to leave behind. His relationships with various residents, a local podiatrist, and a woman from his past keep the story fast-paced and funny, but there’s an intriguing undercurrent of solemnity and a wonderfully satisfying surprise ending that left me with a big smile on my face.

By P D Bekendam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prime of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is a simple life too much to ask for?

Ben thinks the retirement home where he works should be called “Heaven Can Wait a Little Longer While I Golf” instead of Heritage Gardens. But who asked him? He’s just the janitor, after all. Of course, his inept boss, the cantankerous residents, and even his attractive podiatrist friend don’t know one important thing about him: he was recently a cardiothoracic surgeon, not a broom-pushing custodian.

Ben is in search of a stress-free life with a little freedom from the past thrown in. But will it be that simple to escape who…

Book cover of All Creatures Great and Small

Why did I love this book?

As entertaining as the PBS series about Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriott (pseudonym for author James Alfred Wight) is, the book is even better.

A blend of memoir, travelogue, and journal, Herriott’s tales of life among the farmers of England’s Yorkshire Dales are heartwarming, hilarious, and riveting. From his familial relationships with the Farnon brothers, with whom he lives, to the sometimes endearing, sometimes mercurial encounters with his patients—both the 2-legged and 4-legged variety—reading the adventures of this country vet is both informative and engaging.

You’ll go places you never imagined, want to watch the series—original and remake—all over again, and will, if you’re like me, make a solemn pledge to visit the Dales before you die! 

By James Herriot,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All Creatures Great and Small as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tie-in to the PBS Masterpiece series and Christmas special, available on streaming and home video.

All Creatures Great and Small is first volume in the multimillion copy bestselling series. Delve into the magical, unforgettable world of James Herriot, the world's most beloved veterinarian, and his menagerie of heartwarming, funny, and tragic animal patients.

For fifty years, generations of readers have flocked to Herriot's marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike…

Book cover of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: A Memoir of Learning to Believe You're Gonna Be Okay

Why did I love this book?

Hard to imagine a memoir about suicide can be entertaining but, honestly, it was.

Sean Dietrich’s father shot himself when Sean was a child. The book is a roller-coaster ride of emotions Sean experiences as he comes to terms with that event. While the backdrop of the story is that sad beginning, the details of Sean’s life lived along the way are often funny.

His description of math and why he hates it is downright hilarious: “Math is one of those things the good Lord allowed on this earth to remind mankind that the devil is real,” that paragraph begins. Sean details his journey from being a high school dropout to becoming an award-winning, hugely popular author and columnist with brute honesty, a distinctly Southern perspective, and a wit that puts him right up there with Will Rogers.

By Sean Dietrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Will the Circle Be Unbroken? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From celebrated storyteller "Sean of the South" comes an unforgettable memoir of love, loss, the friction of family memories, and the unlikely hope that you're gonna be alright.

Sean Dietrich was twelve years old when he scattered his father's ashes from the mountain range. His father was a man who lived for baseball, a steel worker with a ready wink, who once scaled a fifty-foot tree just to hang a tire swing for his son. He was also the stranger who tried to kidnap and kill Sean's mother before pulling the trigger on himself. He was a childhood hero, now…

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