Last week we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
We are living in an unsettling time, as the world struggles to combat and contain COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
Citizens are being encouraged to physically distance themselves from each other, and self-isolation, particularly for those who have travelled overseas, is the order of the day. Reading is more important now than ever. Our first reading doctor installment is a prescription for these uncertain times.
Prescription #1: To soothe and comfort
In these trying times, a good book is invaluable. Books have the power to distract us from the here and now, to amuse and occupy us, as well as to soothe and comfort. Reading is an activity ideally suited to quiet solitude, so, if you’re in isolation, turn to a book for company and reassurance.
What’s more comforting than re-reading, returning to a much-loved book, opening covers which feature in our memories, turning pages we’ve dog-eared ourselves, being lulled by the familiarity of a well-known story inhabited by old friends. Mine your bookshelves for the classics which are the milestones of your own reading, or try mine:
· C S Lewis’ Narnia series, in which children are empowered as the kings and queens of a magical land.
· Raymond E Feist’s Magician (first in the Riftwar Saga), in which an apprentice magician and an aspiring warrior become swept up in a war between worlds.
· Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, with its female perspective on Arthurian legend.
· Patrick O’Brian’s historical naval series of war and discovery begins with Master and Commander.
· A S Byatt’s Possession is a very literary romance.
· Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh is lush in language, culture, history and imagination.
Crime novels begin with chaos and end with the restoration of order, our questions answered, mysteries solved and fears allayed. Comforting, indeed. A series of crime novels has the added benefit of a figure who we come to learn can be trusted to do all those things for us, whatever their own flaws might be:
· Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie is a thoughtful man with a taste for digression and a talent for insight.
· Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti loves his family and makes time for a proper lunch, while protecting his city (the very picturesque Venice) from villanies both great and small.
· C J Sansom’s Matthew Shardlakeis caught up in the torrid politics swirling around the Tudor court of Henry the Eighth, while seeking justice for the disempowered and the vulnerable.
Or, perhaps seek solace, as I am at the moment, in the quiet rhythms of the lives of good people in a small town, occasionally troubled by the complications of polite society, in Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire, beginning with The Warden.
If you're looking for reading recommendations for your children, you might like this post from Kate De Goldi.