Classic Fiction Books to Inspire a Quiet, Simple, and Slow Life

Reading has always been a favorite past time of mine. I often read a book during breakfast and lunch when I was a child. I must say that I’m still prone to grab a book while I eat if my babies allow for it! Though my free time for reading has drastically dwindled with two boys under two years old, I am determined to maintain my reading habits as best as I can.

I shared some of my My Recent Readings | Thoughts and Recommendations with you a few months ago. Now I’d like to share a few of my favorite books that inspire a quiet, simple, and slow lifestyle with you.

I absolutely love to read. I also enjoy a quiet, simple, and slow lifestyle…one with a little less technology, noise, chaos, and business. As I was thinking about what this kind of lifestyle looks like on a practical level, I instantly thought of a number of books that inspire me in this way. Here are 5 books that I think embody a quiet, slow, and simple lifestyle in unique ways from one another. I hope you’ll give one a read!

What Does it Mean to Live a Quiet, Simple, and Slow Life?

“…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you…”

1 Thessalonians 4:11

Quiet living is intentional, peaceable, dignified, and gentle.

Intentional: we believe the quiet life is seasoned with intentionality. This means soaking in the moments we have…good or bad. Life passes by so quickly, so we desire to live every day with purpose. (1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 5:15-17)

Peaceable: we strive to be peacemakers as long as we do not compromise God’s truth in doing so. (Romans 12:18, Jeremiah 29:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:13b)

Dignified: our identity is found in Jesus. Not in the culture, other people, or circumstances. We aim to act and speak in ways that reflect this identity well and honors God. (Proverbs 31: 25, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 1 Peter 3:4)

Gentle: gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. We want to speak truth, even if it is painful, with compassion and love. (Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 25:15, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:12, 1 Peter 3:15)

1. Little Women

Published: 1868

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Genre: Novel, children’s literature

Setting: Massachusetts

Time: 1860s

This classic book is perhaps the best at embodying a slow, quiet, and simple lifestyle. The four March sisters, Marme, and their friends live in the tough times of the Civil War era. This beloved family often discusses poverty, but soon shifts the conversation back to gratitude for the things they do have. Marme continually speaks wisdom over each of her girls, encourages them to think of the needs of others before their own, and cares for her home and family in an inspiring way.

The book follows the March family, namely Jo, on ordinary daily life and a few adventures. I enjoy the fact that this book, while it contains some romance, adventure, and tragedy, it isn’t “over the top”. One could easily imagine oneself in the midst of this story because it is realistic. The characters seem like real people with legitimate flaws, the happenings are things we experience often, and the emotions portrayed are tangible.

Little Women is a wonderful read for anyone desiring to take a step back in time and live in a cozy cottage with lots of sisters!

2. Anne of Green Gables

Published: 1908

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Novel, children’s literature

Setting: Prince Edward Island, Canada

Period: 1880s

The best part about this sweet book is that it doesn’t end here! There are eight books in this series, and, in my personal opinion, the story gets better and better with each one.

Anne is a country girl with a vibrant imagination for big adventures. She has a knack for seeing beauty in almost every aspect of nature, excitement in many mundane days, and friendships with most everyone she meets. She’s a dreamer, but also developes into an inspiring caretaker of her home. I really enjoyed watching Anne go from a girl with cravings for big adventures to a woman who cherished the simple tasks and moments of life.

This book (and the whole series) will challenge you to wonder at the world around you, create meaningful relationships, and work hard at the tasks set before you.

3. Pride and Prejudice

Published: 1813

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Romance novel, fiction

Setting: England

Period: Late 1700s-early 1800s

As I read Pride and Prejudice, it always stirs a desire within me to be a more ‘accomplished’ lady, as Jane Austen would put it. I want to attend balls, know all of the dances, have time for reading that Elizabeth seems to have, take more strolls outside, and refine myself in the ways Jane seems to possess.

Life, in many ways, was less busy and chaotic for families such as the Bennets during that particular era of time. Visits to friends, families, and neighbors were the main source of entertainment and letters the only way to communicate long-distance. While I cannot say that I admire all of the characteristics portrayed by the women in these books (vanity being one example), it does at least make me long for a little more simplicity to life!

4. Jane Eyre

Published: 1847

Author: Charlotte Bronte

Genre: Romance novel, gothic fiction

Setting: England

Period: Sometime during the Victorian Era (1837-1901)

Jane Eyre quickly established itself as one of my most favorite romance novels. Unlike many books of this genre, the plot was not quite as expected as I originally thought that it would be. Jane is a poor, but well educated young lady…again with inspiring me to be more ‘accomplished’ as she is!

She lives a very basic life. No fancy clothes, hair, or frills. She aspires to maintain a strong mind over a pretty appearance, hold a steady conversation instead of mere flirtation, and better herself by reading rather than meaningless entertainment. That description probably makes her sound incredibly boring. To some she may be, but there is something about the way Charlotte Bronte portrays her that makes her plainness charming!

There are so many qualities about Jane that I would like to emulate in my own life.

5. Little House on the Prairie

Published: 1935

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

Genre: Children’s novel, western

Setting: American Midwest

Period: 1868-1870

How could I not include Little House on the Prairie when discussing books centered around a quiet, simple, and slow lifestyle? This book, out of all the ones previously mentioned, inspires me the most (probably because it is about real-life people and events)!

A simple life doesn’t necessarily mean ease, but it lacks a lot of the business, constant communication, and noise that is in our current culture. Laura’s life was anything but easy, but the basic tasks that she and her family had to accomplish each day just to survive is incredible! This entire series of books causes me to stop and appreciate the little things of life such as running water, washing machines, and electricity.

They also give me an intense desire to have more skills such as growing a successful garden, preserving food for the winter, and processing our own meat. How neat it is to take a glimpse back at how people used to do life and then gather some of those same skills for the life we currently live!

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