Comfort Reading

Since my brain surgery eleven and a half years ago, I’ve suffered from excruciating headaches, though fortunately over time they’ve become less and less frequent, and I now only get them maybe three or four times a year. Usually when I get one I lie down in a hot bath — I’m not sure how much this actually helps the headache, but it’s soothing and it gives me something to do while I wait for the pain medication to kick in.

In theory, it seems like lying there in the tub with my eyes closed ought to be the best thing, but in fact that often just focuses my attention on the pain and makes it seem worse. So I often take a book with me to distract me.

But it’s impossible for me to concentrate on anything when I’ve got a bad headache, so the book has to be what I think of as “comfort reading”, usually something I’ve read many times already and like a lot and can follow and enjoy (or at least enjoy the illusion of following) even if I just let the words wash over me as I read.

Also, it has to be an inexpensive and replaceable paperback, in case I get a little water on it or heaven forbid drop it. There are several books that in theory would be great for this function but I only own them in editions too nice and/or too hard to replace to take the risk.

A couple of weeks ago it was a paperback copy of Anita Loos’s two short novels Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. The former is a comic masterpiece; the latter is just an OK sequel, but enjoyable enough.

Dave and I watched the movie of GPB last night, too. It’s a lot of fun, and Marilyn Monroe is terrific, but the movie is softer and more conventional than the book and only occasionally gives us glimpses of the untamed Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw as they are in the novels.

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