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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Good Summer Reads

The new summer's light entertainment has finally kicked in and I, for one, am thrilled. Add a bit of very light summer reading and I'm pretty good to go.  I've been holed up in bed for a while with almost no mobility and it's been hard to do much of anything since my health seems to change from "I can't take this anymore" to "OK, I can live with this IF I have to," changing moment to moment almost.  But it all boils down to how much I can concentrate.  Let's just say that I'm happy this flare I'm going through (it's been upgraded to full flare status, up from the "mini" of the last few weeks) is happening to me during the summer months when things tend to be light and less stress is around. 

I actually read three books a couple of weeks ago!  Yippee!  The bright side of not having read much in the last three years (or thereabouts) is that practically any new books hubs now brings home from the library are ones I haven't read.  And so I have a real choice as to what I want to read as opposed to, "OK, since there's nothing better...."  You know: sort of like making a decision as to which person to vote for: the lesser of two unlikeable candidates in every election I've participated in since the age of 18.  But, I digress. 

Last month I wrote a post (link) where I listed some of the authors and their books which I thought would do well for those who may have difficulty concentrating on reading. This post was quite popular with good comments on twitter, etc, so I thought I'd let you know what I read a couple of weeks ago which put me in the greatest of moods - all because I was actually reading!  I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for good titles and often I mourn the ending of a book partly because it means I have to find something else as good to read! (More titles can be found on a long ago, but popular, post here.)

I've written before that I think that one of the ways to go if you have trouble concentrating because of the CFIDS/ME/CFS and/or fibromyalgia "brain fog," and have pretty much given up on reading is to go the series route.  It's an easier way to get back into reading when you have known major characters and the dynamics going on around them.  (See this post for more tips to reading if you have CFS/FM.)

So in that spirit I started with a favorite author of mine: Margaret Maron and her Deborah Knott series.  I hadn't read her last two novels, The Buzzard Table and Three-Day Town.  I enjoy Maron's Deborah Knott series but haven't been able to get into her newer series featuring Sigrid Harald - I need to give those a try again when I feel better. (I'm always aware that how I feel about a book or author can all too often depend on my health and how I feel when I'm reading and so I try to factor that into the equation of likes and dislikes.)

Margaret Maron combines her two series into one in her latest two books, most likely in order to bring in her massive Knott fan base in order for us to fall in love with Sigrid as well.  Unfortunately, I think that these last two novels aren't as strong as her previous Deborah Knott incredible successes.  This is not to say that these last two novels aren't still good reading!  It's just that if you're going to start in on this series - which I do recommend! - her last two are not the ones to start with.  There was also a lot of jumping around from different points of view in Three-Day Town which can be a bit annoying, I would imagine, to a lot of readers, but especially the fibro-brained ones who have difficulty shifting gears.  However, Margaret Maron is an incredibly gifted writer: she's quite impressively won Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards.  She is really worth checking out.

I have to laugh. I was so unsure of my so-called brain that I started reading a stand-alone novel by a favorite author and just could not get anywhere with it.  But I kept plugging along, determined that I would beat my fibro-brain.  After a week into it, and only at page 77, I decided that I wasn't going to torment myself anymore.  It was time to pack my bags, so to speak, and return to the dreaded TV.  That's when I happened to pick up Maron's book and realized that it wasn't me at fault in that attempt but the author.  So, remember to be kind to yourself as well.  Don't underestimate yourself.  Just find something that is actually readable and engaging! 

On to my big success: John Grisham's The Racheteer.  I've not read much of Grisham's books in a long time because they had become too predictable and his books have almost acquired a following-a-formula feel about them, with Grisham just churning out a new book each year - partially the fault of the publishing house, I know.  I admit I began reading the book only because it was among the huge haul hubs had dragged home from the library in this awful heatwave we've all been experiencing.  And how happy I am that I did read the book! 

I had forgotten how readable Grisham is.  The content of The Racheteer is first class, the characters as well. I had also forgotten how "simple" his writing is.  I don't mean as in "elementary" but more in the line of Hemingway's deceptively easy flowing prose: very clean writing.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that Grisham is as "literature" as Hemingway - not by any stretch of the imagination.  But Grisham's style flows and is easy-going and his plot is captivating.  I was happy as my fibro-brain could follow and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

As to what is the book about?  Grisham was asked to describe the novel in one sentence and here it is: "A federal judge is murdered, and our hero knows who did it, and why."  I thought I'd borrow a few reviews included on Amazon's site: 
Electrifying...carries the reader along one track (innocent man seeks exoneration) only to switch on to another (cat-and-mouse caper) halfway through this delicious, frictionless ease."   ~Guardian.
[T]his is not a story about a triumph or a miscarriage of courtroom justice. It's the more devious, surprising story of a smart man who gets even smarter once he spends five years honing his skills as a jailhouse lawyer - and then expertly concocts an ingenious revenge scheme... Mr. Grisham writes with rekindled vigor here."   ~New York Times
Wow.  Need I say more?  And note the "rekindled vigor" part of the statement! 

BTW: I seem to have lost my Kindle!  You know how I recently spoke about losing the very few items around my bed?  Well, my Kindle seems to have gone in the "lost sock from the wash" way.  Annoying, though I do have a few library books to pick from.  And good news: one of the rooms in the house which has a massive collection of books has been freed up so I hope to find some books in there which I'd like to reread. (See tips for reading for those with CFS/FM here.)  Amazon really should look into putting a location chip into the Kindle!  I'm going into Kindle withdrawal - words I never imagined, just a few years ago, would ever come out of my mouth!

I've also - thank heavens! - found a few TV favorites.  That will have to be the next post as I need to get back into bed.  (Being mature: how unlike me!)

Any good light reading titles out there, my lovelies?  I'd love to hear about them if so! 

In the meanwhile, as always, I hope everyone's feeling their very best - only better.  Ciao and paka!

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