Sick Books

Chestnut has strep throat. This used to happen all the time. One, or both, would be sick. It would start mid-October with school and colder weather, and then intensify through the winter—colds! Flus! Ear infections! One year, when they were both small, we went something like 49 days straight with at least one person sick enough to stay home every single day.

They are not little anymore. Chestnut is 16, Diana is 18, and children's literature has been pretty much absent from our house for a long while. But when people are sick, especially when they feel very terrible, comfort is essential.

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This is what gave Chestnut comfort today. It was, as she said, an almost perfect sick book, with sentences a person could glide through, a thrilling and playful momentum. She read it after the first dose of antibiotics and before the second, and then she said, "Do we have another book like that? One that's perfect to read when you're sick? I mean, no book could be as perfect for when you're sick as Shining Through."

Shining_Through-Susan_Isaacs_(1988)

That book, she believes, is the perfect book to read when you're sick: comforting and exciting and dreamy all at once. Me, I love to read Rich Men, Single Women. And I did post once on my belief that there is a book for every psychic ailment

But once she was done with Hill House, I was stuck. Somehow I couldn't think of the next one to offer—the perfect thing to get a person through until the antibiotics kick in. So I have to ask: what do you guys do?

10 thoughts on “Sick Books

  1. Hmmmm. I’ve never thought about this — or at least not in forever. I haven’t been sick (knock on wood) for a while, but I might go back and read these books, anyway! I do remember loving being sick as a kid and sitting in bed reading stacks of library books. For some reason, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry comes to mind. I think he might have a book about a boy home sick under the covers. I’m thinking that maybe a cheesy novel from the seventies might be in order?

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  2. Sometimes I read all my old Cricket magazines! I also love all the Amelia Peabody mysteries, great when you are under the weather. Hope she feels better soon!

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  3. I used to love Nancy Drew when I was sick. More recently those collections of the best essays or short stories of some year, never the current one. They are the right length for my impaired energy level and attention span, and surprising in the best sense of the word.

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  4. T read Haunting of Hill House a month or two ago and declared it the kind of book that she would write. In fact, for a humanities class assignment, she wrote another chapter. I hope Chestnut is on the mend and when she is home later I will ask T her opinion for further such reads…

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  5. How about the Lord Peter Whimsey series by Dorothy Sayers- light and easy, but with mystery and depth. I’m looking forward to checking out your and Chestnut’s sick book recommendations!

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