Saturday, October 3, 2009


Books can be hazardous to your health.

I'm not talking about the damage to your eyes that could result from reading in poor light...or the headaches that could come from straining to read small print...or the exhaustion that could follow a late night of reading "just one more chapter" until, in the end, the entire book is read and the clock says 3:18 a.m. I'm also not referring to the danger of dropping a heavy book on your big toe or the sharp corners of a tall stack of library books digging into your ribs as you try to wrestle them all into the too-small bag you brought to carry them home.

Here is the hazard I'm thinking of: nausea, real nausea, resulting from getting so emotionally wrapped up in the lives of the people in the book you're reading that you physically feel ill because of the harsh circumstances of their lives.

That's what happened to me last night, and it came from reading a fiction book. Fiction! I had to tell myself that it wasn't real, the story was made up, no one by the name of Lucy really lived in that situation, etc. But my heart wasn't buyin' it. I know that even fiction books can describe how life really was for people; and in the case of the book I was reading, it painted all-too-clearly the horrors of life in pre-World War II Europe.

The latest series I've been reading while nursing Shav (although my reading time has diminished greatly because of him sleeping through the night) is the Zion Covenant books by Bodie Thoene. I'm currently about 3/4 of the way through the last book in the series; and although all of the books have been edge-of-my-seat gripping, this one in particular has had a powerful effect on me. Last night I was so paralyzed with fear of what was going to occur that I actually skipped ahead in the book a few chapters to see what happened with Lucy (and I never "cheat" and look ahead). And then, as I continued to read, I started feeling sick--so sick--sick enough to moan to Jeff, "Oh, I don't feel very good."

All from reading a fictional book.

On the one hand, it's so silly to be this involved in what I read. On the other hand, it's absolutely horrifying to think of how many people--men, women, and children--faced, in real life, the difficulties described in the book. All of the characters I'm reading about are intriguing; all of them make me hold my breath as I anxiously await the outcome the author has decided for them. But Lucy--dear Lucy--and her baby! I'm reduced to tears--and nausea--as I read about her.

All of this strong emotion makes me hold my boys a little longer and tighter. It reminds me to cherish these moments when Josiah wants to sit in my lap during the violin concert we attended tonight, when he hugs me and says, "You're the best mommy in the world"...the times when David is so delighted by the simple act of getting his face painted like a kitty cat today at the relief sale, when he "meows" at the people we stop to talk to so that they will know what he is (as if it wasn't obvious by the painted whiskers on his face)...the times when Tobin lifts his little arms to me and looks imploringly into my eyes, wanting me to pick him up, and the times when he stands up and so cautiously takes some steps, all the while looking around to see if anyone is noticing him and ready to applaud...the opportunity to hold Shav and nurse him without fear of what his future holds, to take a nap with him on my chest like I did this afternoon. These moments are gold, pure gold; and today I feel like I can't get enough of them.

It hasn't been a good day as far as housework goes since I hardly did anything around the house. But when it comes to what really matters, it's been an excellent day. I almost wish Shav would wake up in the night so that I could sneak in even more snuggle time with my little lovebug. But since he's sleeping soundly, I'm just going to pick up my book again...and read one more section...just one...and hopefully tonight I won't feel like I have to throw up, just from reading a book.


bekahcubed said...

There's nothing like a book that really gets you involved--and the Thoene's are some of the best.

Enjoy reading (and I hope you don't continue to feel sick--Yikes!)

Lisa said...

haha! I told Scott that while nursing alone I could have learned a foreign language!

I hope you feel better!

Jolanthe said...

I am loving their other series - the one that starts with First Light...sucked me right in and I learned so much. :)

Jo Ann said...

This made me chuckle because I can totally relate. SO glad to know I'm not alone! :)

Margie said...

I've never read these books! I'll have to find a Bodie Thoene book to try out. You've piqued my interest. I have a love/hate relationships with books that grip me like that. They're so good to read but can so dominate my thoughts that it's difficult to function on a day-to-day basis.

busymomof10 said...

I could relate to the bit of disappointment you feel when your baby is sleeping through the night and doesn't need that special, peaceful nighttime feeding any more. I always cherished those night time nursings, especially once I had a very BUSY household. It seemed like the only time I could nurse uninterrupted and enjoy my precious baby. I miss those times . . .