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Stress Reading

July 7, 2008

My day job is pretty crazy right now, sucking all the juice out of my brain cells. Which means I need a very particular kind of reading. It can’t be mentally or emotionally demanding, because I don’t have the energy for either, but it has to be intelligent — I can’t bear stupidity or senselessness. It can’t be wacky or silly, because I really have to be in the mood for that, and that’s not where I am.

My solution? Well, there’s re-reading old favorites. I’ve been on the journey a few times, so the blood pressure doesn’t rise and if I fail to pay attention for a page or two, I’m not utterly lost. Re-reading when I’m under stress is usually a good choice. Last night, I opened up Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, which I’ve probably read half a dozen times, and read all the parts I love. (Marigold the mongoose and the shirt she wouldn’t be parted from: how can you not love her?)

Another solution — for this patch of stress, anyway — is Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple mysteries. They’re cozy mysteries, a description that suits them, set in 1920s England. Daisy is a viscount’s daughter who lost her brother and fiancé to the Great War and her father to the influenza epidemic that followed. She could live with her widowed mother, her married sister or with the cousin who inherited her father’s title and estate, but instead she’s chosen to live independently in London.

The series is exactly what I need: light enough for the amount of energy I have to give, intelligent enough to grab my attention…and because I really am a romantic, there’s the developing relationship between Daisy and Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher, a relationship frowned on by both their mothers because of the class difference between them.

This is so exactly to my taste that I toddled down to the Boston Public Library in the sweltering heat to check out the 12 books in the series I hadn’t yet read. (I also checked out the books I had on hold, but those include literary fiction, biography and an analysis of the lyric poetry of W.B. Yeats, all stuff that’ll wait until things settle down at work…which should be (mostly) after this weekend.)

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