Rx for Readers

Are your humours out of balance? You could be cupped, or bled, or purged. You could consider emetics, or even dally with leeches. Or perhaps you could just read a book instead.

Myself, I always go for the book.

Karoly Ferenczy 22

I don’t know when I realized that I self-medicate with books. Possibly when I wrote this post, or possibly this one.
Or possibly when I read one of the new editions of P.G. Wodehouse and noted that his works were described as “cheaper than Prozac, and 100 per cent more effective.”

Here are a few of my favourite prescriptions.

Feeling blue? In a brown study? Life just drab and grey? Take a course of P.G. Wodehouse. Read anything he wrote: a novel, a preface, even the account of his experiences being interned by the Nazis. Uniformly hilarious.
Overdoses can cause symptoms similar to intoxication; possible side effects include aching stomach muscles and snorted drinks.

Original caption- A couple of hearty characters roar at a good joke Art.IWMARTLD135c

Are you jaded by the harried complexities of urban life, the rush, the pollution, the noise? Try the old classic Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. Warning: may cause uncontrollable urge to move to Switzerland.

Plenty of housework to do, but don’t fancy drudging it? Monica Dickens’ autobiographical caper One Pair of Hands should get you in the mood – or, for a more fictional twist, try the exploits of Lucy Eyelesbarrow in Agatha Christie’s 4:50 from Paddington.

Edouard John Mentha Lesendes Dienstmädchen in einer Bibliothek

Most of Agatha Christie’s works are ideal for when you are in need of something warm and comforting to curl up in. They’re not mindless junk, but neither are there nasty surprises. (Not unless you read Endless Night.) Plenty of unexpected twists, though – I’ve read them over and over again and I still sometimes miss whodunnit.

Also excellent for the early stages of recuperation are Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver novels. There is no-one I would rather have in my sick-room than this quietly knitting, Tennyson-quoting gentlewoman detective, ahem, private enquiry agent.

Edwardian lady writing (6908558900)

Are you oppressed? By life, by work, by circumstance? If, like the man trapped by the date tree which grew under him as he slept, you are unable to alter circumstances to your will; adapt your will to circumstances instead: try being heroically or nobly oppressed, for variety.
Nicholas Nickleby (by Monica’s great-granddaddy Charles) would be delighted to be of assistance; or Part One of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women may serve the turn instead.

Like Hamlet, do you find life “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable”? Try Terry Pratchett for some “interesting times.”

Edwin Booth as Hamlet lithograph

Does time weigh heavily on your hands? Do the days bore you by their prosaic banality? The ideal solution is J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, The Lord of the Rings – the ultimate reason to “not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel,” as Miss Prism warns her charge.

What home remedies do you have on your bookshelf? I’d love to hear!

Five Favourite Pen Quotes

This morning the promised fountain pen arrived on my doorstep. Joy, rapture, et cetera. It looks like this, if you’re curious.

In honour of this auspicious day (auspicious: from the Latin, meaning good-looking entrails), here are a few of my favourite quotes about writers and their pens.

Browne, Henriette - A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch - Google Art Project

There is neither lighter burden, nor more agreeable, than a pen.
Petrarch

I’m not happy unless I have a pen in my hand, it’s really that simple.
Anthony Horowitz

Chicken at Riverdale Farm April 2012

A pen is to me as a beak is to a hen.
J.R.R. Tolkien

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.
Graham Greene

The writing master thomas eakins

In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.
Pearl S. Buck