A virus nabbed me at the end of January, and kept me captive right through this month. Confined to barracks if not to bed, it’s deprived me of walks and singing, and standing at my desk. But I could sit and edit, although I’ve done no new writing, apart from a couple of 99-word stories, and a helluva lot of reviews. February might be the shortest month, but perhaps the greatest in my book-reading tally.
Two weeks into involuntary retreat, it occurred to me my reading choices weren’t particularly relaxing. Wanting to feel ‘productive’, I’d thought to plough through my TBR shelf, rather than selecting easy reads. But perhaps I should’ve reread old favourites and saved myself the bother of writing reviews. So did I change tack at that point? Of course not. This thing had kept me in its clutches so long, surely it was about to set me free. (Sadly, it was only the midpoint, that’s if I’m over it now.)
The bug also afforded me ample thinking time, although the thoughts that filtered through were by no means profound. I wondered if our reading preferences change with illness, and what constitutes a ‘sickbed’ read. When you’re weak, is it heartening to read about fictional illness or is it better to choose a socio-political theme to maintain some semblance of connection to the outside world?
Wondering about what had worked for me in other years, I remembered only books I’d read when ill as a child. Two stuck out, both gifts, albeit at different times: one a wonderful collection of Greek myths for children, given when I returned from hospital after having my tonsils removed (a state-sponsored form of child-abuse that’s fortunately become obsolete); the other the totally unsuitable classic Pollyanna when I was far too old for it and when finding the silver lining in an extremely dark sky was exactly what I didn’t need.
Over to you? Do you read differently when you’re unwell? What’s your favourite sickbed read?
I’m saving my reviews of a few of the books I read under the virus’ shadow for next month, but you can check the reviews of the twelve novels and two nonfiction books I posted by clicking on the image below. My overall favourite was Godsend by John Wray, an even-handed telling of a teenage convert to Islam who, disguised as a boy, travels first to a remote Pakistani madrasa, then to fight across the border in Afghanistan.
You can see my other posts on reading here.
I didn’t think I’d manage Charli’s end-of-February challenge to write a 99-word story incorporating the word backup until, almost a week from publishing this post, I had the urge to share a health update (and it's looking good):
A virus meant missing the concert; but, never mind, there was another in three weeks’ time. I’d be fighting fit by then: hitting the top notes and tramping the moors, albeit not at the same time. Four weeks of fatigue and bouts of coughing headed for five and I remained a recluse, sleeping sitting up.
Steroids: well I never! A single dose and I’m breathing right. But have I the strength to walk to today’s appointment? It takes half an hour if I march at my usual pace. But there’s backup: my husband’s ‘taxi’ only a phone call away.