What to read when you’re sick in bed

Cover of Not Forgetting the WhaleEveryone’s sick this winter. Even the people who had the flu jab get this lurgy that lingers, sometimes for weeks. You’re bedridden, and so far your eyesight is the only unaffected part of your body. It’s time to read! And don’t wimp out here – not just magazines. Real books.

A handsome young man washes up on the English coastline at a small coastal village. Did I mention that he is naked? He is escaping what he believes will be a catastrophic collapse of world economies because of a flu epidemic. Are you hooked yet? The book is John Ironmonger’s Not Forgetting the Whale. It comes with a WARNING: This book may restore your faith in human nature. It’s as good as a tonic.

Cover of Headhunters on my DoorstepIt’s also cold and wintry right now, so maybe you’d prefer a tropical read. J. Maarten Troost has a jolly romp of a read in Headhunters on My Doorstep. The author retraces the travels of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island travels. He tackles his problems with addiction and his insights into island life with humour and empathy. Staying within the broad sweep of the theme of epidemics here, the book is not without its references to all the plagues and pestilences that Western traveller’s visited upon Pacific Islanders. Yet you will laugh out loud. You will start to envisage a life beyond your sick bed. You will have Tropical Island fantasies without (I hope) any accompanying delirium.

Cover of PlagueFinally – a bit of hair of the dog. Why not use this time to put your little flu bout in perspective. Time for some Black Death reading. The best book I have ever read on this plague is an older book: A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman. It is one of those touchstone books to which many other authors make reference. But Plague by Wendy Orent is like a terrifying historical whodunnit.

“Plague is a terrifying mystery. In the Middle Ages, it wiped out 40 million people – 40 percent of the total population in Europe. Seven hundred years earlier, the Justinian Plague destroyed the Byzantine Empire and ushered in the Middle Ages. The plague of London in the seventeenth century killed more than 1,000 people a day. In the early twentieth century, plague again swept Asia, taking the lives of 12 million in India alone.” “Even more frightening is what it could do to us in the near future…”

Reading this book will put your flu in perspective. Of course you may never sleep again, but that is another topic entirely!

Helping Canterbury kids with anxiety

A new resource for parents, teachers and the children of Canterbury to help children cope with anxiety was launched recently. Maia and the Worry Bug (for families) and Wishes and Worries (for classroom use) are two picture books that make up an anxiety management resource.

Maia and the Worry Bug is about the worry bug that moves in with Maia and her family. It makes them worry about all sorts of things. Mum worries about whether the family are safe, Dad worries about whether Mum has fixed the bookcase to the wall properly and if the emergency kit has everything it needs, and Maia doesn’t want to leave the house. Their worries get so bad that they finally have to come up with a way to get rid of the worry bug for good. As well as the story there are also exercises and discussion questions in the back of the book for families to work through together.

The Worry Bug project is the brainchild of two Christchurch women; psychologist Julie Burgess-Manning and teacher Sarina Dickson, with illustrations by the wonderful Jenny Cooper. The books were made possible by receiving funding from the Canterbury Community Trust and Canterbury Earthquake Appeals Trust.

The resource will be given out free to all new entrant – Year 4 children and classrooms in Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts in Term 3.

As well as Maia and the Worry Bug we have some other great resources in the library to help children cope with anxiety:

This week in Christchurch history (20 to 26 July)

20 July 1851
First church in Christchurch opened – later dedicated as St Michael and All Angels in 1859.

Old St. Michael's Church, corner of Oxford Terrace and Lichfield Street [ca. 1861]
Old St. Michael’s Church, corner of Oxford Terrace and Lichfield Street [ca. 1861], CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0003
23 July 1851
Pioneer William Deans among 28 lost in the wreck of the Maria in Cook Strait. Godley had tried to deprive the Deans and Hay families of their farms because he wanted only Anglicans to own land in the new settlement. The Deans brothers had sold sheep to pay the legal costs of fighting Godley’s high handed action, and William Deans was travelling to Sydney to buy replacement stock.

23 July 1857
First dramatic presentation in Canterbury, which featured Mrs Foley in “The Loan of a Lover” and “Betsy Baker” at the Lyttelton Town Hall. (see an advertisement in the 25 July 1857 Lyttelton Times).

Papers Past clipping from Page 5 Advertisements Column 2 Lyttelton Times, 25 July 1857
Papers Past clipping from Page 5 Advertisements Column 2 Lyttelton Times, 25 July 1857

24 July 1983
New Zealand’s first “test-tube” twins born at Christchurch Hospital.

26 July 1879
Canterbury Rugby Football Association (New Zealand’s first) formed. See our page on early rugby in Christchurch.

More July events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.