Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Crisis Management

So, in the interests of promoting healthy living (always a priority of mine, see the 'Snacks' section for proof) I thought I'd better follow up my last post with some slightly more wholesome coping strategies for times of crisis. Even I have to admit that there's only so much cake, chocolate and Bakewell tart you can use to get you through tough times before it leads to a whole new set of problems, like not being able to go out in public as none of your clothes fit anymore. So, I've been busily trialling some calorie-free alternatives. That don't involve wine either.

I know the lovely (and now envy-makingly svelte) Michelle Styles would say that exercise is the way to go to boost endorphins and clear your mind. She's right, of course, but I've shamefully let my morning run slide this year as I really did find the half-hour recovery period spent gossiping with my running partner afterwards it cut into my working day too much. I guess we could re-schedule it for the evening, but by then my energy-levels have hit the floor and the only running I want to do is a hot bath.

Which brings me neatly onto my rigorously road-tested, calorie-free stress-relief method of choice: reading in the bath.

I do love my kindle, but its one huge downfalls is that it can't really be used in water (as my husband, chief screen-police officer in our house, regularly reminds me) which means I'm still buying paperbacks like a woman with a problem. Reading in the bath has been the thing that got me through the Deadline Weeks (and is my best hope for surviving the subsequent Revisiongate) and going straight to the top of my Book of the Year list is Julie Cohen's Getting Away With It.

Although perfect for bathtime escapism, it's the kind of book you have to keep near you at all times so you can top up your fix at regular intervals during the day, when reality gets a bit much. The thing is, it's so perfectly written that it actually feels like it could be reality, and given that I am about as far removed from the kick-boxing, smart-talking, independent twin heroine as it's probably possible to be, that is quite a feat of clever writing. I identified with Liza all the way. I understood her dilemma perfectly. And I bloody loved her man.

I ordered a copy of the book from Amazon on the day it came out, but before it arrived I spotted it in the book aisle of our brand-new, Wembley Stadium-sized Sainsburys. I'm such an instant-gratification girl I couldn't quite stop myself from slipping it into my basket, which means that I now find myself with a spare copy in need of a good home. So, if you feel a bit like you're swimming against the tide at the moment for whatever reason, and could do with escaping into a fabulous story, drop me a line via the website and leave your address. I'll pick a name out over the weekend.

It's funny too, did I mention that? You know when books are described in the back blurb as being 'laugh-out-loud funny' and you don't laugh once and feel a bit cheated? Well, this one isn't doesn't say that on the back, but I still did A LOT of inelegant snorting. I suppose that would make it a dangerous book to read on the bus, but still more perfect for solitary bathtime devouring. I'd better slip something fragrant and bath-y in with it, so you don't forget.

What's everyone else been reading and loving lately? In the bath or elsewhere...


Sharon Kendrick said...

I absolutely devoured a book (on the recommendation of my daughter) called HOME. Um, it's not the most cheery of subjects - in fact, I don't want to tell you what it's about because that sort of gives it away....
But the writing is utterly briliant and compelling. I guess it's about motherhood - and society - and it's funny and sad and evocative.

Sharon Kendrick said...

I am going insane!

The book is called ROOM!

My excuse, apart from tiredness (I have been making foolish mistakes all day) is that there's a glut of one-word book titles out at the moment. Might be an interesting exercise to see if we could get any into M&B...

wannabe a writer said...

I've heard that Room is unputdownable and am tempted to try it myself. I recently read a book about a woman who had been in an accident and woke up every morning not be able to remember her past, she could remember what she was told while she was awake but as soon as she went into a deep sleep her memory was wiped clean (sounds like me after too much vino!). Every day her husband told her about her past life. Could have been a bit like grounddhog day only she had a doctor phoning her every day telling her to read the journal she had been keeping and then she started to question her past and whether she could actually trust her husband. Truly scarey.

As for the Kindle in the bath dilema I have read that wrapping it in a sealable plastic bag can solve the dilemma - but I don't have a Kindle yet and can't test the theory.


ros said...

I just finished an old book by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, 'Summer's End', which a friend lent me. I loved the story of two families merging and the complications of grief, rivalry, remarriage and family loyalty. The heroine is an Olympic champion figure skater in a family of left-wing intellectuals who can't understand why she likes wearing sequins and marabou feathers. And the hero... *sigh*... he's broad shouldered, literally and metaphorically. I do like a competent man, and Jack is very competent. And sexy, too, of course. Lovely comfort reading.

ros said...

Oh, and I am hopefully getting a Kindle for my birthday but I am a bit worried about the reading in the bath problem. May have to buy both ebooks and real books!

Rachel lyndhurst said...

I need to read more, I've decided. Enough is enough! The hardback copy of Getting Away With It I bought LAST YEAR is going to be polished off over Easter.

Thanks for reminding me to get a life, India!


Michelle Styles said...

I am currently reading Hazel Osmond's debut -- Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?
It is very good fun and has a RA inspired hero plus an obscene-scrabbling playing great aunt and a number of laugh aloud incidents. The heroine is an advertising copywriter.
The downside is that I am supposed to be getting my ms ready for submission...and I keep staying up way too late.

Liz Fielding said...

I love reading in the bath, India. I keep a book in the bathroom (mostly library books these days) and my Kindle by the bed.

Just about to dive into To Marry a Prince by Sophie Page.

ros said...

Liz, you're braver than me! I wouldn't dare read a library book in the bath in case I dropped it.

Liz Fielding said...

Several people are trying to persuade me that putting a Kindle in ziplock is safe for the bath, Ros. Now that does scare me!

India said...

Hello all - I've been out enjoying lunch with two lovely ladies I met through my New Voices workshop last September, so apologies for not popping in earlier to reply to all your comments. Sharon, when I read your first one I thought 'Oooh, never heard of Home - wonder if it's the sequel to Room?'! I haven't read it (Room or Home!) but I do know what it's about. Is it deeply disturbing?

Linda, that one sounds disturbing too! I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to anything vaguely sinister - books or films - probably because I'm neurotic enough as it is. I think I loved Julie's book so much because it took me to a good place and made it feel very real. She does settings SO well.

Ros, that sounds more like it! A book just couldn't be sinister when it features sequins and marabou (*refuses to think of Black Swan*) Buying bath books and kindle books is exactly what I tend to do, which sounds extravagant but I reckon that the kindle 'sample chapter' feature has saved me a lot of cash by cutting down on books I never quite get into. Fingers crossed the birthday fairy brings you one - you'll love it!

Rach, I envy you for not having read it yet and having all the pleasure to come. (Oh, and get a life!)

Michelle, I checked Hazel's book out on amazon - it's not out yet, but it sounds fab. One to look forward to. Good luck with the rest of the ms. Keep going!

Ooh Liz, I downloaded To Marry A Prince onto my kindle this morning, but I've already managed to justify the purchase of a 'bath copy' too because I know my daughters will like it (and there's no way I'm handing over my precious kindle - I'm sure they've learned nothing from the unfortunate ipod incident and would have no qualms about reading it in the bath. Without so much as a ziplock between it and disaster.) Just finished Daisy Goodwins 'My Last Duchess' so have a vacancy for aristocracy-related fiction!

Ros, I don't find I drop books in the bath very often, though the crinkly page edges from being turned over by wet hands might be a problem. But now libraries are all self-service you'd be able to sneak it back without being told off!

Heidi Rice said...

I've just been on a Victoria Dahl binge, but should warn everyone she happens to be a very bad influence. Read Lead Me On and immediately tried to persuade my husband to get a tattoo so I could lick it! (he said NO).

Have ordered my copy of Getting Away With It so that's up next.

PS: wouldn't the zip-lock bag steam up?

India said...

Heidi, that's got to be the most original and irresistible book recommendation I've heard in a long time! Feeling the need to check out Lead Me On immediately...

You have a treat in store with Getting Away With It. Enjoy!

Brigitte said...

I'm about to finish The Way to a Woman's Heart by Christina Jones. Her books are so refreshing and funny and so....British.
Next on the list is Daughters in Law by Joanna Trollope.

Have to say that I don't read in the bath - I'm sort of a shower person. Don't have a kindle either, but do read on my netbook, especially Romance. Otherwise my shelves will explode.:)