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Books Are the Best Medicine: 12 Tips to Get You Through a Sick Day

Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

When I was a kid and told my mom I wanted to stay home sick from school, she would skeptically ask me a simple question: If I was allowed to stay home, would I go right back to sleep or would I spend the day reading? If my answer was the latter, my mom usually determined that I wasn’t so sick after all, and I found myself on my way to school. Even now as an adult, I sometimes hold myself to this same standard. But everyone needs a reading day once in a while. Whether you’ve been struck with the dreaded early spring cold or you just need a day to curl up in bed with a book, here are some reading tips to keep you entertained on your sick day.


Lily and the Octopus
by Steven Rowley
Listen to an Audiobook

If you really are feeling too sick to even hold a book up, an audiobook is the way to go. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, and listen to this moving and magical novel about Ted, a single, gay, struggling writer who is unable to open himself up to anyone except his dog, Lily. When her health is in danger, he will do anything to save her.

Read the full review of LILY AND THE OCTOPUS.

Lily and the Octopus
Steven Rowley

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Glaciers
by Alexis Smith
Read a Short Book

This little gem of a book is perfect for a restful afternoon at home. It follows Isabel, a twenty-something thrift-store shopper, through a single day as she repairs damaged books in the basement of a library, is overwhelmed with unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress.

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Get in Trouble
by Kelly Link
Read a Story Collection

A short story collection is the perfect solution for wanting to read but also wanting to take a nap-you can read a story, take a nap, read a story, take a nap, and so on. This story collection full of literary magic and stunning imagination follows story lines like a middle-age movie star embarking on a disturbing trip to a Florida swamp and a suburban slumber party that takes an unusual turn.

Get in Trouble
Kelly Link

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Books Are the Best Medicine: 12 Tips to Get You Through a Sick Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 25, 2018

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Roughneck
by Jeff Lemire
Read a Graphic Novel

A sick day is the perfect time to read a book with pictures, so dip into an immersive graphic novel. This one follows Derek Ouelette, a former hockey star who has been living in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and reminiscing about his glory days. When his long-lost sister, Beth, shows up, on the run from an abusive boyfriend, the two hide out in a secluded cabin and attempt to reconnect.

Roughneck
Jeff Lemire

MENTIONED IN:

Books Are the Best Medicine: 12 Tips to Get You Through a Sick Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 25, 2018

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A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
Revisit a Childhood Favorite

Sometimes there's nothing more comforting than reading a book you loved as a kid. If you need a little break from the adult world on your sick day, crack open this classic about Meg Murray, her strange and brilliant little brother, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin as they embark on an interdimensional adventure to save Meg's father.

Read the full review of A WRINKLE IN TIME.

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle

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Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters
Read an Immersive Historical Novel

A good historical novel will make you forget about being stuck in bed and transport you to another time and place. In this distinctly Dickensian novel, Sue Trinder is an orphan who grew up amoung petty thieves-fingersmiths. When elegant con man Gentleman enlists Sue's help in conning Maud Lilly, a naive gentlewoman, Sue unexpectedly comes to pity and care for her mark.

Fingersmith
Sarah Waters

Read an LGBTQ+ Romance Novel

Orphan Sue Trinder is raised amongst “fingersmiths”—transient petty thieves. When a fingersmith known as Gentleman asks Sue to help him con a wealthy woman out of her inheritance, she never expects to pity her helpless mark, let alone come to care for her. But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

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Eve's Striptease
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Read a Book of Poetry

Poetry is perfect for a sick day because you can read a couple poems quickly, then lay back, close your eyes, and digest them for a while. This collection features a strong female voice that examines life as a journey from innocence to knowledge, filled with love and loss.

Eve's Striptease
Julia Spicher Kasdorf

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By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 25, 2018

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Wife of the Gods
by Kwei Quartey
Read an Absorbing Mystery

Keep your mind off whatever ails you by putting it to work solving a mystery. The first in a series of police procedurals set in Ghana, this novel introduces Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, whose boss orders him to go to the small town of Ketanu and investigate the death of a promising young medical student who is found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Wife of the Gods
Kwei Quartey

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Reread a Well-Worn Favorite

When I'm not feeling myself, sometimes the best thing is to return to a favorite novel and visit with characters who feel like old friends.. One of my most dog-eared volumes is this fast-paced and gripping thriller about disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker prodigy Lisbeth Salander, who team up to discover the truth about the forty-year-old disappearance of a young woman from one of Sweden's wealthiest families.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

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We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
by Samantha Irby
Read Something That Will Make You Laugh

They say laughter is the best medicine, so dive into this hilarious essay collection by "bitches gotta eat" blogger and comedian Samantha Irby. It explores everything from navigating friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms, awkward sexual encounters, and even an uproarious imagined application for The Bachelorette.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
Samantha Irby

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The Buried Giant
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Read Something Fantastical

Get swept up in a fantastical story, like that of elderly couple Axl and Beatrice, who live in post-Arthurian Britain and set off to visit their son, who they scarcely remember after a strange mist gave them amnesia. Joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight, they slowly begin to remember a dark and troubled past.

The Buried Giant
Kazuo Ishiguro

MENTIONED IN:

Books Are the Best Medicine: 12 Tips to Get You Through a Sick Day

By Sarah Jane Abbott | April 25, 2018

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Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
Finally Read a Book That's Been on Your Shelf Forever

What better time to finally read that book that has been on your TBR pile for years? A while back my boyfriend, who knows I love JANE EYRE, gave me this iconic retelling through the eyes of the mysterious, infamous "madwoman in the attic." She is reimagined as Antoinette Cosway, a sheltered young Creole heiress growing up in Jamaica, who is sold into marriage to Mr. Rochester.

Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys's reputation was made upon the publication of this novel, in which she focuses on one of fiction's most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

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