So this week I learned what it's like to have a terrible cold while a) your immune system is basically defunct and b) you can't take any good drugs. Essentially, what it is like is some sort of ghastly Victorian melodrama but without the laudanum with which the heroine of a Victorian melodrama would invariably be dosed. For three days I lay either in bed or on the couch, coughing racking dry breath-stealing coughs that by day one were already making my ribs ache, blowing my nose until it also was in major pain, and becoming rapidly willing to sell my soul if it meant I could take one freakin' DayQuil. We will not even speak of the nights. Some people might say, "Oooh, good practice for when the baby comes!" but, frankly, while I am growing the baby is not the best time to be rehearsing sleep deprivation, thanks.
Poor Berowne had to deal with not only being the sole person taking the dogs out and running the errands in over a foot of snow and subzero temperatures, but with his wife staggering around like la Dame aux Camélias if said Dame wore a giant puffy bathrobe, had a chafed nose, hadn't showered in four days, and was petulantly demanding pho and tea most of the time. Not to mention that when the cough woke me in the night, it woke him too. The only time he got grossed out by any of it was on Night Three, when the cough finally turned productive and the result was a symphony of phlegm. He's a noble man.
It is still a symphony of phlegm around here, but I went back to work, which meant a lot of discreet hornking in the work bathrooms and a lot of people commenting on how terrible my voice sounded and then expecting me to talk at length. Yay.
As you can imagine, a fair amount of reading material has been consumed, though if you are looking for promises that I absorbed lots of information or for deep profound reviews, you will not be getting that.
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, by Nicholas Basbanes. This starts really slowly, and then is uneven - I found the chapters about books and documents, which were only tangentially about the paper on which those books and documents were written, far more interesting than the chapters about paper-making. But it's definitely comprehensive and Basbanes clearly loves his subject matter.
Silk Is For Seduction, by Loretta Chase. She's phoning it in a bit, these days. If you enjoy romance novels, I can honestly only recommend her early books.
The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild, by Craig Childs. Childs thinks he's Annie Dillard and Edward Abbey all in one, which is... not endearing. Also his writing is so melodramatic and forcedly-poetical that it overwhelms the actual, interesting stories he has about nature and animals. All I came away with from this book is that he would be an incredibly irritating dude to go hiking with, since with every sight of bear scat you're suddenly on the road to Damascus. "Aw jeez, Craig's having a religious experience again."
Dallas 1963, by Bill Minutaglio. Amazing. A description of the years leading up to 1963 in Dallas and how the city became a place where the Kennedy assassination seems, in retrospect, completely inevitable. It's written in present tense and with irresistible momentum, and is pretty horrifying in terms of how people used (and, alas, use) hatred as a point of pride and an open motivator.
Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman. Newman mashes up every imaginable Victorian book and character into a story about Count Dracula marrying Queen Victoria and taking over England, and for most of the book it's damn fun. The end fell apart for me, but I have to say I quite liked the rest of it.
The Broken Token, by Chris Nickson. Mystery set in the early 18th century in Leeds. Not too challenging but I enjoyed it.
Spice: The History of a Temptation, by Jack Turner. Informative and fun history of the spice trade and perceptions of spice in cookery, literature, and religion throughout the centuries.
And now back to our regularly scheduled hornking noises.