This is the crappiest winter in a long time. Not only is it temperamental both literally and figuratively, it also seems to have a detrimental effect on my body. I’ve been sick since Christmas, which naturally means a lot of annoyance, less exploring and more cancelled trips, and trying to find indoor entertainment. You probably already know what that means. You guessed right: books, books and more books. Although running a quick search on Amazon indicates that people still prefer the extra chill in the dead of winter, this time I chose more light-hearted, healthy ways of distraction by real and fictitious worlds alike.
A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. A genuinely funny non-fiction masterpiece that had a great increase in popularity when it got recently turned into a movie, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. The journal of Bill Bryson’s attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz, after discovering the trail goes behind his house quickly became one of my favourite books of late. Bryson is among the best travel writers, and one of my most admired authors. The book is as informative about the trail as it can be, yet it’s dangerous when read in public as it will make you laugh out loud, walk blindly into various obstacles, potentially risking other people’s and your own safety.
The Shambling Guide To New York City by Mur Lafferty. You think your job is challenging? Working as a travel writer for a shady and seemingly prejudiced publishing company may not sound too bad, but when it turns out you’re the only human employee and your job is to write a travel guide for the undead, things get more complicated. And that’s just the beginning of it. A well paced, witty and hilarious mainstream debut for the author, also part one of a series of two. A taster: “Rockefeller Centre. The territory was claimed by the Norse but they allow humans to conduct business there as long as they honor a small cutting of the world tree, Yggdrasil, that is raised every midwinter .”
Welcome to Night Vale by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink. This is niche entertainment at its best. Night Vale started out as a podcast that soon went viral a couple years ago, and since then had a sold out world tour. The stories were in the form of news and bulletins, as if broadcasts on the local community radio, e.g. announcements about the infamous dog park where “a) Dogs are not allowed in the dog park, b) People are not allowed in the dog park, c) Do not look at the hooded figures in the dog park for any period of time”. By the way (depending who you ask) there is no dog park in Night Vale. This is the first novel (in classic format), but the tone is no different. The humour is quirky and meta at times, with a sarcastic take on conspiracy theories and their believers.
Harmony Black by Craig Shaefer. Got this one as a pre-release offer on my Kindle. Harmony is rather a morning person and prefers to wear a suit to work and slurp diet coke. She’s also an FBI agent and a practicing witch, and battles supernatural threats against innocents as part of a secret government organisation. You may say we’ve heard similar stories before, yet there is much more to this book. The characters are alive and vivid, and although I’m not a morning person, don’t wear suits, only drink diet coke if I have no other choice (the jury is still out whether I’m a witch), I could still relate to her.
Eggs, Butter, Sugar and Disaster by Alicia L. Wright. Take a handful of Seralina, mix in a generous amount of Norse mythology, season to taste with some immortality and add a pinch of talking trees. Seralina became the Goddess of Puddings, not because she intended to, it was more a matter of not paying attention. Now she splits her time between working as a valkyrie in the goddess Freya’s new bar and travelling around the Afterlives and trying not to start Ragnarok by accident. An entertaining tale for fans of mythology, perfect for a little cheering up on your down days.
I generally steer away from romance as a rule when I’m sick, as they only make me feel more miserable and pathetic sitting in my pyjamas with my hair all frazzled. So humour it is. Not all that mainstream but just as good by any standards. So curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea or a hot whiskey (for the more adventurous) and enjoy.
on your sick days? Let me know in the comments below.