The Past Week (and the Books I've Read)

Black cat dozing in the sunlight

I feel like I should warn you that all of my April outtakes so far are pictures of Polly basking.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will already know that the only souvenir I brought home from Paris was gastroenteritis. A particularly vicious dose which, a week on, still has me grabbing my stomach and getting out of breath if I walk across the flat and tossing and turning all night with an acid reflux cough. Nice.

But I am on the mend.

A long, long time ago now, I had pneumonia. I was ill for what felt like forever. A couple of months, anyway, and then I had a phased return to work. All because of a bit of damp and some air freshener. Seriously, folks, just clean up your mess and open your windows!

So: I had been very ill and, once the worst of it was past, my GP told me to start leaving the house each afternoon and walking just a little bit further than the day before. The first day, I made it to the garden gate. The second day, I made it to the end of the road. The third day, I made it to the shop around the corner. So it went on.

Well, I'm nowhere near that sick at the moment but I still think the theory is sound. I don't want work to come as a total shock to the system on Monday. So, for the last few days, I've been trying to do a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more.

On Sunday, I did the dishes. On Monday, I put proper clothes on and framed some photos. Today, I went to the bakery and tidied some shelves and gifted some fabric scraps to a woman on Freecycle.

But mostly I've been sitting around reading (and sleeping. Let's not forget the sleeping).

I've read A Tale for the Time Being and Life After Life and Affinity and they were all pretty decent. And I've reread Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown .

I almost never reread books. I know this about myself; I find it easy to give them away once I'm done because I know I'm not going to return to them. There are too many new ones to get through; who has time for repeats?

But I loved Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown when I first read it in 2008 and I knew it was one to hang on to.

The book is the author's account of spending a year in therapy. At the start of the book, the author is a successful journalist with a close family, good friends and a pretty cocky attitude - but she's involved in an unhealthy relationship and keeps bursting into tears for no apparent reason. Despite this, she's convinced she doesn't need any help; twelve months later, she's changed her mind.

The first time I read the book, I wanted to buy copies for just about every woman - and most of the men - I know. So much of it is familiar - the games people play with themselves and their partners; the unhealthy attitudes towards careers and relationships; the shaky self belief and doubts about our abilities. I loved it. I have no doubt that I was emotionally healthier for reading it (and that that led to me leaving a well paid but insanely tedious procurement job to re-start my creative career).

I'm in a much happier place in my life now than I was in 2008. Much happier. But, second time around, I still feel like I got a huge amount of it and I still feel like I want to give copies to everyone I know.

Well, I can't afford to do that. So I'm doing the next best thing and blogging about it instead. Let me know what you make of it.


  1. Ooh, Woman On The Verge... sounds interesting, I may take a look. I really liked Life After Life, especially the bits when Ursula is quite young (the lengths she goes to to avoid Spanish flu made me laugh).

  2. Yes! I wasn't sure about the Germany bits (although I understand they made a lot of the author's points) but loved the rest of it.

  3. I have that with books - most of the ones I keep are series books that would be a faff to reread from the library if I took the notion... But it's true there's so many new ones to discover instead! Glad you're feeling better, excited to see you soon! :)

  4. Excited to see you, too! You've been all quiet online lately and I want to know ALL ABOUT the new job!

  5. I'm so sorry you were sick :( Glad you're on the mend. I've heard of "Women on the Verge..." but I don't think I've ever actually looked into it. Also, I need to read more. haha.


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