Welcome, November.  Such a beautiful month.  The temperature has finally dropped below Oppressive, you’ve dared to don a sweater, and you’ve driven to the grocery store in search of cranberry-flavored happiness.  And popsicles, because tomorrow will be Oppressive again, even though Thursday’s low is supposed to drop below freezing, and there might be sleet.  That will all be gone by Saturday, which will be filled with golden crispness like a postcard sent by the goddess of Fall.  You won’t be able to enjoy it, however, because you will be bedridden by fever, body aches, and searing sinus pain brought on by the wicked roulette wheel of weather that is November.  So you might as well get your bookshelf prepared.

For me, reading when I’m sick is an entirely different experience from reading when I’m healthy.  The small part of my brain that is not infected tells me that I should challenge myself, dive into the works of exciting new authors, brave thousand-page tomes of philosophy because, hey, what better time to catch up than while I’m stuck in bed?  But my germ-infested body quickly slaps that part of my brain and says, “Just watch a House Hunters marathon, you moron.”  The compromise between Ambitious Me and Sick Me is usually to read books I’ve read a thousand times before.  It’s healthier than worrying about a stranger’s lack of amenities at a postage-stamp flat in Bombay, but not as energy-intensive as actual reading.  Here are a few favorites for cold and flu season from my library.  What are yours?

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia

NarniaNow is not the time to finish the dissertation you never wrote about the not-so-hidden Christian typologies and ontologies and whatever other –ologies you meant to cram into it.  We all know Aslan is Jesus, and right now, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that there’s a giant talking lion and a lamp-post tree and a ship that can sail to the edge of the world, and time doesn’t make any sense, and you can get to this place from England as long as you have a magic wardrobe or a freaky painting or some rings made by a crazy uncle.  It’s exactly where you want to be after swigging NyQuil but still not getting any sleep.

  1. Pride and PrejudiceP&P

There are few things quite as restorative as a good romance novel, and this is the mother of them all.  “Be not alarmed, Madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you.”  Sigh.  It’s hard to go on feeling sick in a world where even jilted lovers sound like poets.

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter

Let’s face it – you desperately want to pay a visit to Madam Pomfrey, but you don’t want to put up with Quirrel, Lockhart, or Umbridge to get there.

  1. Slaughterhouse FiveSlaughterhouse Five


“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

“Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day.  He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941.  He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963.  He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between.”

Billy Pilgrim makes sense when you’re drugged.

  1. Crime and Punishment

Crime and PunishmentWatching Raskolnikov thrash around in self-induced delirium for a few hundred pages would make even a dying man grateful not to be that miserable.  It might also put you to sleep, which is what you really want to be doing, anyway.

Happy November!