Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What to Read When You have the Flu

Other than those horrible hours when you're unable to read at all because of the pounding headache, wracking nausea, feverish delirium and quivering limbs (or because you're lying on a sleeping bag in your bathroom shaking and crying and generally being The Cul De Sac's Biggest Drama Queen Ever), having the flu gives you the perfect excuse to hang around in bed and read. Based on recent personal experience, and with the stern reminder that you should be accompanied by tea, crackers, popsicles and household pets (one large snoring dog and two purring cats is optimum) in order to fully enjoy the recovery period, I recommend the following books:

Cleopatra, A Life by Stacy Schiff. Marvelous research--transports you back to that time and makes all the sights and sounds and smells come alive...ooog, the smells. Maybe not such a good choice. Moving on...

Vision in White, by Nora Roberts. Those who read her hard-hitting detective work (written as JD Robb) may not know that Roberts got her start writing romances. Sassy dialogue, good girlfriends, drama queen narcissistic mothers, sexy sex scenes...yuck, not really so great, either. Moving on, again.

Shadows on the Rock, by Willa Cather. Sometimes re-reading a classic, especially one set during the early days of Quebec City (my mom's people arrived on the second boatload over from France, so I love this book for many reasons) is just like comfort food. Until we get to page 156: " A great many people in the town were sick at this time, and Cecile herself caught a cold and was feverish. Her father wrapped her in blankets and made her sit with her feet in a hot mustard bath while she drank a great quantity of sassafras tea." I do NOT need the reminder that people have been getting sick like this for centuries. I wish to wallow in my own personal hell and feel Put Upon by the Universe. Next!

Dark Road to Darjeeling, by Deanna Raybourn. Somewhat spooky, definitely mysterious, perhaps a leetle bit bloody...let's try something else.

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by various editors and Ms. 395 Gazillion Dollar AOL Buyout herself, Arianna Huffington. Okay, now my head is spinning again and the nausea is back. And just because I'm feeling pissy, I'm not putting in the link to that book. 

At this point, I did what any sensible person would do: I turned on my laptop and played online Scrabble, losing horribly, of course, and making words such as DOG and RAG and AM. When I'm feeling better, I'll get back to the stack of books on my bedside table, including one I've been saving for months, the newest YA book in the Bartimaeus sequence, written by Jonathon Stroud. "Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon" might be just what I need to get my mind off my own little world.


  1. I agree; it's one of life's great ironies that when we're sick in bed and have every excuse to lie around and read constantly, we never have the stomach nor the concentration to actually enjoy what we're reading! Hope you're feeling better soon!

  2. On the mend! Still coughing like a 75 year old pack-a-day smoker, though.

  3. Gee, you missed Jacqueline Winspear's "Maisie Dobbs" series (for between the wars), Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" series (for verbal and mental gymnastics and sick puns)...I could go on and on with good "I'm sick but I can still read" books...

  4. @Anonymous, YES, I love both those series, although if I'm really feverish, the twists and turns of Fforde's book might be too much for me to navigate (even though it would be third or fourth time through). Winspear is a wonderful writer, so somber sometimes that I find I need to toss in something hilarious, like a Terry Pratchett "Discworld" novel, to light things up.