Books to read when you’re sick or recovering from a cold

Books to read when you're sick

When looking for good books to read when you’re sick or recovering from a cold I have two rules. 1) They can’t be too sad. 2) They have to be good enough to help me forget my sniffles. In terms of what to read, well, that’s a different story.

Being sick sucks, right?! I recently recovered from a terrible cold. The kind that totally wipes you out for a couple of days and leaves you feeling a little sorry for yourself. It inspired a few lifestyle changes, which I talked about in my previous post, but it also got me thinking. Is there a category for books to read when you’re sick or recovering from cold?

Being sick forced me to slow down the pace and take time to get well. It also meant I suddenly had a little more free time to read, in between coughing and sneezing that is! So, what kind of books would fit in this category?

I think it helps to think thematically here. Everyone has different preferences for reading but it can help, when narrowing down your choices for books to read when you’re sick, to have a few ideas ahead of time.

Something to fall asleep in the middle of

Books to read when you're sick The Warden by Anthony TrollopeSuggestion: The Warden by Anthony Trollope
When you’re sick you’re most likely to spend a lot of a time snoozing. Whether in bed, or on the sofa sleep is always pretty much guaranteed to be how you’re spending most of your time. That being said, choosing a book you can fall asleep in the middle of is a good idea.

I’m not saying the book should be sleep-inducing per-se. But, some books are better designed for being picked up and put down again thanks to their slower plot styles. The example I have suggested in The Warden by Anthony Trollope. This book, the first in Trollope’s famous Barchester Chronicles, follows life in a tranquil Victorian village and the impact that a court case has on its inhabitants. A lilting, tranquil read that you can pick up in-between naps with ease. Another good example in this category would be Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Something to keep you entertained

The Black Moth by Georgette HeyerSuggestion The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer
Once you’re over the worst of a bad cold, there’s nothing worse than when the dreaded boredom begins to creep in. With that in mind, next up on this list of books to read when you’re sick, is something to keep you entertained. 

Now you might say every other category in this list could double as a book that will keep you entertained. And that’s true. But I think this one deserves to be a category in its own right. I’ve suggested the Black Moth by Georgette Heyer because it’s a perfect combination of easy to read and fast paced plot. Plus, Georgette Heyer actually wrote this novel  for her invalid brother when he was recuperating.  Which practically makes it the perfect book to read when you’re ill!

Something to make you think a little bit

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieSuggestion: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
When you have nothing else to do but feel sick, choosing a book that will make you think a little bit is important. Keeping your brain occupied can help the hours go by faster and take your mind of feeling ill.

Really, anything by Agatha Christie would fit the bill in this category! Her books are easy to read and yet filled with enough twists, turns and intrigue to make you think a little bit. Murder on the Orient express is probably one of her best known novels and features her most famous detective, Hercule Poirot. It was also my own personal sick day choice, so maybe I am a little biased!


Something to make you laugh out loud

The Diary of a Provincial LadySuggestion: The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield

I don’t think enough gets said about funny books. They’re tricky to write well, but they’re a perfect mood booster when you discover them. In fact, truly good humorous books shouldn’t be reserved for your pile of books to read when you’re sick, but they are perfect for this.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady is witty, nostalgic and genuinely funny. E.M. Delafield is a master at taking a seemingly mundane topic: the life of a middle aged 1930s housewife and spinning it into hilarious examination of life. This kind of a book is always a rare treat.  Whilst easy to read, it stays with you long after you’ve finished it. So next time you find yourself in need of something to pep yourself up with when you’re feeling sick, reach for this.

Something to cheer you up again

Sarah MorganSuggestion: Anything by Sarah Morgan

When you’re spending your days coughing and sneezing and trying to keep a headache at bay sometimes you just need a metaphorical hug in the shape of a book. You know the kind of a book I am talking about. Good plot, loveable characters and a nice dose of warming cheer.

For me, nothing beats a book by Sarah Morgan. It might look like a cop out to simply point you in the direction of an author instead of a book. I mean, this is a post about ‘books to read when you’re sick’ . But seriously, if you find yourself in need of a cuddle in book form, Sarah Morgan has got you covered. Every. Single. Time!

Something to re-read

Friday's Child by Georgette HeyerSuggestion: Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

Sometimes, nothing beats getting lost in the pages of a well worn, familiar book. There’s something comforting about being able to pick up a book you’ve re-read countless times. You know what to expect, you can almost open it at any page and just read your favourite parts.

I’ve written about my love of Friday’s Child before here at The Female Scriblerian. It’s by far my most love and re-read book. It’s a comforting mix of delightful writing and funny characters that I always reach for when I’m looking for books to read when I’m sick. Your most re-read book is probably different. But the sentiment still stands.

Well, that rounds up this list of books to read when you’re sick or recovering from a cold! Being ill is never fun, but with a good book and a hot cup of honey and lemon you will start to feel a little better before long.

I’m curious, what books do you reach for when you’re feeling under the weather?


  • Ricki Treleaven

    I like laughing out loud, so maybe I should read The Diary of a Provincial Lady! This is a great list, BTW…

    I’m linking over from Modern Mrs. Darcy,
    Ricki Jill

  • I think colds are worse than ‘real’ illnesses because somehow we feel we have to soldier on. I’m interested to see how many people are still reading Georgette Heyer. She’s one of the authors my friends and I graduated to reading when we were teens in the 80s and YA didn’t exist. I haven’t read her since then, but maybe I should give her another go. My other favourite was Jean Plaidy – I think I read just about every one of her books. They were so easy to pick up at jumble sales! Also linking from MMD.