Check It Out: Looking for a light winter read?

Put away your tissue box, and don't worry about your manicure — the following books will not upset you in the least.

If you want to read something without feeling disturbed or uncomfortable, you have nothing to fear from this selection. You can enjoy them at your own pace and put them down any time. If you like to be pulled into a story, but not too far or too fast, this is the list for you!

Reading one of these titles will relax you and make you smile. Don't get me wrong; these are all well-written, entertaining books. They tell a good story, but do not go to any extreme. They are pleasant, lighthearted and likable. Enjoy!

In "Austenland" by Shannon Hale, Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," is ruining her love life: No real man can compare.

But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined.

"Cranford" by Elizabeth Gaskell is a comic portrait of early Victorian life in a country town, which describes with poignant wit the uneventful lives of its ladylike inhabitants, offering an ironic commentary on the separate spheres and diverse experiences of men and women.

In "The Dewey Decimal System of Love" by Josephine Carr, 40-year-old librarian Alison Sheffield hides an extravagant nature. But after last night, even her most proper attire can't disguise the signs — the pink cheeks, the extra-poofy hair, the bounce in her step.

Alison is in love. The heart-palpitating, nausea-inducing, silly, inexplicable, absurd and pointless kind of love found in a romance novel. And for once in her life, what Alison needs to know she can't find in any reference book, she can only live it...

"Excellent Women" by Barbara Pym is one of Pym's richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is a smart, supportive, slightly repressed woman living in a quaint English village filled with eccentric characters.

"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley (first in a series) is about Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old with a chemistry lab. She finds a corpse in a cucumber patch and applies the detective skills she learned plotting against her older sisters.

This debut mystery by a Canadian author won the 2007 Crime Writer Assn.'s Debut Dagger Award.

In "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew is forced to confront the realities of life in the 21st century when he falls in love with Pakistani widow Mrs. Ali. Major Pettigrew finds their relationship challenged by local prejudices that view Mrs. Ali, a Cambridge native, as a perpetual foreigner.

"The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax" by Dorothy Gilman is the first in a long series about a widowed matron who decides to pursue her lifelong desire to be a spy, finds herself useful to the CIA and successfully completes an assignment that takes her from New Jersey to Mexico City to Albania.

All of these mildly entertaining novels and many more can be found at your Newport Beach Public Library. Happy reading!

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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