What Are Gentle Reads?

When you walk into a bookstore, what do you see?

You will likely see carefully curated displays stocked with the latest releases, colourful stacks of stationery ready to archive your thoughts, diligent sales people keen on providing assistance, bold signs to guide your path, and perhaps even perfect goodies placed in spotless glass cases in the adjoining coffee shop.

What you will not see, however, is a giant flashing sign shouting the words “GENTLE READS HERE.”

What Are Gentle Reads?

Often, gentle reads are discussed by what they are not. They are not explicit, violent, or crude; nor do they contain any content designed to intentionally shock the reader. Gentle reads are not considered a genre of their own, but rather a broader category that overlaps/overlapping with several well-defined genres. Gentle reads are not synonymous with inspirational or Christian fiction, though some books may share characteristics of both.

Needless to say, all of this talk about what gentle reads are not leaves us wondering–just what are gentle reads?

What Gentle Reads Are

Simply put, gentle reads are feel-good stories told from hopeful, soothing perspectives that take the reader back to simpler times. Sometimes these stories are referred to as “clean” reads.

Of course, what is considered gentle, too gentle, or not gentle enough varies from reader to reader. Therefore, there is no accepted singular definition of what gentle reads are.

Gentle reads are found across a variety of genres including romance, historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, and more! Since these stories are highly diverse–and scattered throughout the book store–they are more difficult for readers (and librarians) to find.

Despite the broad range of authors and stories that fall under the “GR Umbrella,” there are a number of key characteristics (some more negotiable than others) that are found among gentle reads of all kinds.

Woman standing on rice field during cloudy day
Gentle reads are often set in small rural communities.

Identify Gentle Reads By:

  • No explicit profanity, violence, or sex
  • Likeable, relatable characters
  • Leisurely plot pace
  • Small, close-knit, or rural communities
  • Straightforward story lines

So, what are gentle reads? Gentle reads can be many things to many people. To me, gentle reads are an opportunity to explore books beyond our comfort zones without the threat of discomfort or shock.

While gentle reads for adults are sometimes difficult to find and even more difficult to define, my goal is to use this blog to help readers find their next gentle read among the weeds.