Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Head Is Spinning

When I was told my recent surgery was likely to cause a week's worth of dizziness, I bought socks with non-skid bottoms--and stocked up on fiction.

Fiction can soothe, divert, and stop self-pity in its tracks, which is why I'm now on a quest to improve people's outlooks via novels. I’ve dubbed this mission booko-feedback.

Post-surgery, I napped on and off for twenty-four hours only to awaken disoriented and out-of-sorts. What better book to pick up than one in which wallpaper changes patterns of its own accord? Sarah Addison Allen's THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON has a whiff of the supernatural and a town full of people who need healing. This story features a gentle giant, a woman who bakes to lure her long-lost daughter home, and a girl who falls for the one boy she shouldn't. By the time the townspeople learned to forgive themselves and each other, I'd shrugged off the drugs and was halfway to cheerful.

The British excel at the stiff upper lip thing, so my next selection was Amanda Hodgkinson's 22 BRITANNIA ROAD, set in post WWII London. In this book, a Polish mother and child emigrate to England to join the Polish husband and father they thought they'd lost. The husband's goal is to reunite and remake themselves as a proper British family. Alas, the war marked the three of them, and both the man and woman have secret sorrows. The book's ending touched and uplifted me. More to the point, how could I complain about something as inconsequential as dizziness when Silvana, Aurek, and Janusz had suffered so much yet endured?

When mystery writer Dick Francis was alive, I'd save his latest book for a day when I was battling the flu. His heroes take a beating, stumble home to swallow a few aspirin and two fingers of whisky, and then they head back out after the bad guys. (Yes, Francis was British, why do you ask?) Southern author Joshilyn Jackson's BACKSTREET SAINTS has a heroine who would make Francis proud. Ro Grandee is an abused wife who wants to live, which means she has to flee the husband who's bound to kill her. Ro crosses the country, revisits her past, and finds the self she'd hidden under long-sleeved tops and a fake smile. I was too engrossed in Ro's fight for her life to think about myself or my spinning head.

Three books, seven days, and I felt perky again. Fiction's a great healer.

What books have changed your attitude or made you temporarily forget a problem or challenge?


Mary Campisi said...

Hi Pat:

First, I wish you well and hope you are soon up and about sans nonskid footwear! Great post and so true. Imagination is a wonderful thing - years ago when I was on a hospital bed waiting for the first of three surgeries that would end in a complete hysterectomy, I had to take my mind off of all the 'what-ifs' so I did what any writer would do - I created Anthony Weston, the dark, brooding hero in A Taste of Seduction. I was so wrapped up in the story that by the time they sedated me, I was not thinking about anything but his poor, tortured soul and the woman who would heal him. Good thing too because those were some long months ahead! I'll bet you not only read other people's books but got new ideas for your own.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!


Lark Howard said...

Thanks for another great post!! I hope you're feeling better. I had surgery last year and couldn't see well enough to read much less write for the first ten days afterward. I was a bit desperate, depressed and bored silly until I downloaded an audible book to my iPhone. Okay, GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE wasn't exactly a jolly story, but it certainly kept me entertained until I could see again.

aroseisarose said...

I have a mother who prescribes fiction, so it's no surprise I, too, turn to books. I can read East of Eden over and over again, get lost in the Salinas Valley, and come out a different person each time. I always return to Confederacy of Dunces for its unique humor, to my mother's shelves of romance for a quick escape, and to Bukowski when I'm feeling especially brave or sorry for myself. If only I could find a book to ease this muscle ache...

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Mary,
Thanks for the good wishes--and for sharing your recovery tactic. Anthony Weston beats Vicodin any day.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark,
How can you read (or listen to) what's going on with Lisbeth Salander and not want to get better so you, too, can kick butt?

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, A rose is a rose, aka my daughter,
Fiction to cure a muscle ache, hmm? I think you need Jack Reacher, who, in my humble opinion, is the current-day equivalent of Dick Francis' Sid Halley, only much taller. Lee Child writes the Jack Reacher mysteries. Dad and I have most of them and lend for weeks at a time.

Kay Hudson said...

Three books I'll keep in mind, Pat, as if I needed more. Now that I have a Kindle, I have an extra, invisible TBR shelf. I have to confess, after I had surgery a few years ago, I lay around dozing and watching TV for a couple of weeks. Then I read a stack of mysteries, and when they let me drive again, my car took me directly to Half-Price Books.

Pat Kay said...

Hi, Pat,
I've been reading up a storm this summer, too. I don't have dizziness or after-surgery recuperation as an excuse, but I do have a lot of stress and getting lost in a good book is a terrific stress reliever. In the last week, I've recently re-discovered Susan R. Sloan and just read her BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, two riveting stories of suspense. I also polished off THE SOLDIER'S WIFE by Margaret Leroy, which I know you would love. The story takes place during WWII on the isle of Guernsey and is a real page turner filled with unforgettable characters. I feel sorry for people who don't like to read. Reading is one of the great joys of life.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Kay,
Bless that car of yours for knowing, before you did, where you needed to go. Mysteries are great healers. We don't have to be able to lift more than a half-gallon container to figure out whodunit.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Pat,
Thanks for recommending Susan Sloan and Margaret Leroy. As you know, I'm an Anglophile (and many other -philes) so Leroy's book set on the Isle of Guernsey is calling to me. I'd better go reread the GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

For me, it's the Herriot (spelling?) books like All Creatures Great and Small. They are so warm and witty--it's like snuggling up under a warm blank with a cat next to you. I always feel better.

Hope you are doing well, too, Pat. And thanks to the other posters for giving me a list of books I need to look for.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jane,
Ooh, ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL is the perfect comfort read. I'd also love to snuggle with a cat but it's so hot right now that I'll have to do it via a book. Thanks for stopping by.