Being sick is the perfect excuse to stay in bed all day, guilt-free, devouring great books. Let’s not pretend your brain is firing on all cylinders, though. Now is not the time to dive into Moby-Dick. No, when you’re aching all over and your head is a snot factory, you want a page-turner. You want something uplifting and compelling.
May I suggest:
1. The Princess Bride: We all wish Peter Falk would burst into our bedrooms, say “HEYYY,” and read us this book, at first against our will, but then to our delight—but it’s not going to happen, so you should read this on your own. It’s quite different from the movie, much darker and scarier in spots, (the Pit of Despair is actually several levels of pure horror before you reach The Machine), but you’ll love reading Fezzik and Inigo’s heartwarming backstories. And we like any excuse to think about Robin Wright.
2. Jeeves and Wooster: Read anything and everything written by P.G. Wodehouse, especially his hysterically funny stories and novels featuring Jeeves and Wooster. The world’s most endearing idiot, Bertie Wooster wakes up every day to find his faithful butler Jeeves standing over him with a perfectly mixed hangover cure and a solution to every stupid problem Bertie gets himself into. (Jeeves often uses something called “psychology,” a new and magical method). The inane lives of rich British men in the 1920’s are somehow extremely interesting, and the stories are short enough to read between naps.
3; Harry Potter: If you haven’t read HP because you’re daunted by the prospect trudging through seven books, or you think that because you saw the movies you don’t have to read the books, you are dead wrong. (Also, the movies are terrible and inaccurate, but that’s another huge post I’m working on. I’m calling it, “Even His Eye Color is Wrong, You Jerks”). This series will make you feel pure wonder, hope, and a thirst for the fantastical, just like you did when you were a kid.
4. Calvin and Hobbes: Obviously. Calvin is the world’s tiniest philosopher.
5. Bossypants: You should read this book. You should want to know what she’s done and what she’s worked through to get where she is, and you should laugh at her wit and you should let her inspire you. Then you should blow your nose.
6. Gilead: Words almost can’t express how good this book will make you feel. After you read it, you’ll remember the “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” sticker on the front and go, “yep, that makes sense.” And then you’ll just hold it in your hands and look at it for a while and try to process the fact that Marilynne Robinson wrote a book in the voice of a dying pastor addressing his son and made it so convincing and loving and balanced and morally clear. Then you’ll sigh a big heavy happy sigh and fall asleep. I mean, most people will do that, probably.
Bonus item: Garrison Keillor on CD: Your eyeballs hurt. I get it. Turn on Prairie Home Companion and let Gary’s dulcet tones swaddle you in the comfort of everyday small town conversations, fishing trips, and snow-shoveling contests.
You’ve got four days, tops, to milk this sickness for all it’s worth, so use this time wisely and dig into these cozy, soothing reads. I’d bring you some soup, but I have a thing. Feel better.
Which books comfort you when you’re sick?