CHRONIC PAIN

Dear Ella and Suse,
I'm depressed, and suffering from chronic pain due osteoarthritis (six surgeries and two to follow.) I can't read or listen to new literature. I return to my comfortingly familiar Patrick O'Brian,  Aubrey/Maturin series. Rich in humour, bravery, adventure, hardship, loneliness, and the special bond of friendship and love between those who share life's pains and sorrows. My husband thinks that I'm lazy, stubborn, ridiculous. What would you suggest to lure me to new literature while I recover from my latest surgery? 
Yours,
Depressed
Dear Depressed,
We applaud your comfort reading, as returning to the familiar in times of trouble and pain is always very sensible: going back to favourite books that you read in earlier times in your life is a great way of grounding yourself and revisiting your younger self. However, you could also benefit from discovering new literature, to be surprised into looking at the world in new ways. Do you use audio books? This can be an excellent way to get over any aversion you might have to the unfamiliar.  As a lover of Patrick O Brian, you may well find yourself enjoying Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch. This is partly a sea-faring adventure, describing the friendship of two boys that is tested to its limits, and partly a story of belief in limitless possibility. Published in 2011, it brings you more up to date with modern literature. We also reccommend as pure comfort reads, the novels of Camilleri about Inspector Montalbano of Sicily. Beautifully wry, wise and thoughtful, these are books that you would sink into, knowing that the world will generally be sorted out for the better by the end of the book. And for another great modern novel that answers your criteria for humour, bravery, adventure, hardhsip, loneliness and the special bond of friendshp and love, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a definite answer. It's also satisfyingly long. Try any of these as audio books, and you may well find yourself hooked. 
Finally, we've said it before, and we'll say it again, but Tove Janson's Moomintroll books are hard to beat as comfort reads in all times of trouble. Comet in Moominland is where you should start.
Yours,
Ella and Suse
We prescribe - Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Comet in Moominland by Tove Janson

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE