Everyone’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.
It’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.
Finally – 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!