Books for When You Are Feeling Not Quite the Thing

by KJ in #AmReading

“Not quite the thing” is what Bertie Wooster used to tell Jeeves he was feeling when he was feeling poorly. As a general matter, Bertie was hungover, but the phrase also encompassed a few other typical Bertie states of mind, including vaguely heartbroken and actually ill and snuffly or just taken to his bed in an attempt to avoid one of his many aunts.

The past two weeks have found me taking to my bed and clutching the saddest possible faintly alcoholic beverages: DayQuil and NyQuil. I had a boyfriend once who drank his DayQuil straight from the bottle when sick which I (because I was an idiot) found rather dashing. I use the little cup that comes on the cap, because I’m classy like that.

And when I am huddled in my bed, or on my couch, I—of course—read. This is when ye old toppling #tbr comes in super handy, because when you’re sick you need very particular reads. Cozy but distracting. Enough to take your mind off your misery, but not so demanding that you’re flipping back through going but wait, who was Pendicity again?

I started with near perfection: The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove by Karen Hawkins. This is the fourth book in an UTTERLY reliable series. If you like a cozy, pleasantly magical small town in which the stakes are high-but-perfectly-low, love, finding family, accepting yourself, accepting your difficult family members but never saving-the-universe, this is for you. If you like romances where the burden (and the POV) are with the women, who need to change and evolve and embrace the love that’s available (although sometimes not easily won), these are for you.

From there I took a chance on a debut advance: The Last Love Note by Emma Grey. I’d hesitated, leery of having my tear buttons pushed by love notes from a husband who died too young (the last thing I need is more sniffles, here) but that didn’t seem to be what we were dealing with. This felt funny and fresh, and it was a BOTM pick that I already had sitting right here, so I dove in and wasn’t sorry. I thought I saw where it was going but I was wrong and i LOVE being that kind of wrong. Did I get quite teary anyway? I did. I was not mad about it.

And then I found myself at a standstill. Another romance didn’t cut it, maybe bc my standards were now high, maybe because I’d overdosed. I’ll give that one another chance. Meanwhile, I took things in a totally new direction. The same fabulous bookseller from the Dedham MA Barnes and Noble who set me up with Mistborn had also pressed The Black Witch by Laurie Forest into my hands. “I read the whole series in one weekend,” she said.

Yeah, that will be me as soon as books 2, 3 and 4 come into my bookstore. This series—The Black Witch Chronicles—gives the strongest Harry Potter but-not-an-imitation vibe I’ve read since that series ended. It’s the kind of big thick fantasy dive that just demands empty hours and a cozy couch, and I had nothing but.

And now… truly I’m tired of being sick. I might even be a little tired of reading. Is that possible? I would have said no, but I’d really like to get out and rejoin the world again. I’m feeling a tiny bit better—better enough to have finally picked up work on my own books again. (You know you’ve read too much when you would rather write; trust me that this is not a natural occurance.)

I’m also working on my Book Lover’s Gift Guide for 2023, coming at the end of November. What’s the most fun thing YOU read this year—and who’s it for? (Not best. That’s a different list. I don’t make that list.) I’m listening…

P.S. If you haven’t read Playing the Witch Card yet, I very much think you should. #Fallvibes are definitely still rolling! Or try The Chicken Sisters (which is still my most beloved-by-readers book) or In Her Boots.

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