I’ve had a cold this week, Gentle Reader. One of those drippy nose, heavy chest sort of colds. The kind where your sinuses are so enlarged they make your teeth ache and your head throb.
Being sick while homeschooling is never fun. These sorts of symptoms are not exactly helpful when one needs to teach adding and subtracting negative numbers, although they do provide excellent fodder from which to draw examples of various literary devices. My head is a giant mucus filled balloon simply waiting to explode. See? A metaphor. Mucus makes me miserable. That’s alliteration. My evil sinuses are killing me! There’s an example of hyperbole AND personification.
So, I guess it hasn’t been a complete wash this past few days.
What I’ve wanted to do most this week (besides regain the ability to breathe through my nose) is curl up on the couch with a good book. However, when your head is achy and your children are overly solicitous, one does not always have the brain power for a new book. This is when it is handy to have a list of old favorites you can reread. And if those books happen to have a good sickbed scene so much the better.
One of my favorite books to read when I am under the weather (physically or emotionally) is Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan. Here is the classic story of a woman whose husband leaves her for a younger woman. A younger, hateful woman who also happens to steal her job. Really, she’s the devil.
I love rereading this book because it instantly makes me feel better about my own life. I also adore the main character who is just bitter enough to be realistic (the woman can say some deliciously cutting things) but strong enough to overcome her adversity and grow into an even better person. Plus, it is set in England so I can read it in my head with a British accent. This is always a bonus.
Another book I love to reread when I’m sick is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Yes, it’s a children’s book, but that should never stop you from reading it. It is about three orphaned girls who are living with their guardian under a certain amount of financial distress. So they all wind up attending a performance school that will turn them into actors and dancers, capable of earning a living. Some of these girls are made for such a life and some are not, but the entire book is delightful. Again, this is set in England (are you sensing a trend?) and there is a small sickbed scene as well.
Just to prove to you that I am not a one-trick pony/reader, another book I love to reread when I’m sick is Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. Here the author (whom you probably recognize as the writer of the Anne of Green Gables) is clearly Canadian which is completely different from being British. Sort of. Whatever.
I love Montgomery’s Emily books even more than I love her Anne books. Emily is spunky, slightly naughty but never bad, and has a group of friends who are all quite interesting. (Poor Anne had very dull friends. I’m sorry Diana, you are good and kind but you are boring.) There is also a tiny bit of the supernatural in Emily of New Moon, which coincides with the main character becoming quite ill, so the ending is a bit dramatic.
Yes, this is another children’s book, but get over it, Gentle Reader. Children’s books are some of the best books to reread when you’re feeling under the weather. All in all, it is a lovely read.
My final selection for you today is Family Album, by Danielle Steele. I went through an immense Danielle Steele phase in junior high. (Don’t judge!) Her books tend to follow the same pattern and be a bit formulaic, but there are a few that I have kept on my shelves throughout the years because they really stood out. This is one of them.
The book is set in Hollywood and begins when a young actress falls in love with a millionaire playboy and they married (because that happens every day in California, of course.) They raise a family, have problems, fight, start a new life, rise to the top again, have problems, fight, start a new life. Rinse, lather, repeat. Along the way there is betrayal, adultery, drug abuse, neglected children, the Academy Awards, the Vietnam War, children born out of wedlock, the whole nine yards.
It is all terribly melodramatic but immensely entertaining in its simplicity. One doesn’t become very emotionally attached to the characters, so when horrible things happen to them it’s not at all disturbing or heart-wrenching. In fact, I find it to be a giant pick-me-up when I’m sick. Even with twenty pounds of mucus in my middle class head, my life is far better than these rich fools. So, basically, it’s the perfect book to read when you’re feeling low.
So there you have it. Here are some of my favorite books to reread when I’m sick. What are some of yours?