I guess in this first one I’m here to explain why I’m writing a blog about reviewing free books.
I’m sick. It’s so random. It can be hilarious, the randomness of it all. Usually. Sometimes it’s sad in the way that wallowing is required for any truly fucked up, weird thing that happens in your late 20s. (Or any age?) But mostly it’s just this odd thing.
I have (what is believed to be) postherpetic neuralgia. It is extreme pain in your nerves that occurs after shingles to a small group of people, who are almost exclusively super old. I’m the random inclusion. The rare and the random and the curious. I was the epitome of health, until I wasn’t – the same way you were whoever you used to be, until you weren’t.
I have been in pain for 24 hours/day for 2 years and 5 months, on my upper right side, in my sternum, around 3 ribs and hooking into my spine. It is in.fucking.sane to actually see that in writing. That is insane!
I cringe at the thought of my chest being touched and I haven’t worn a real bra in at least a year. It would be depressing, it SHOULD be depressing, (sometimes I let it get depressing), but it can’t be. It won’t. Or I’ll lose the essence of myself. And you definitely won’t have any interest in what I have to say about books! My mother gave me the cheesiest hope figurine I’ve ever seen and it has become one of my most cherished possessions. I look at it everyday. It’s almost like having shingles transported me to the mindset of someone old enough to love hope figurines.
There are 500 things about me that are so much more interesting than a chronic pain condition (you should hear the one about how I ended up in California – I’m from Ohio), but it’s the thing that gets final say at the end of the day. It decides if we are going out or staying in, if we can have a drink, if we will be bold and meet new people or if we need to hermit for months on end and lose touch with all the people we have already met. I might as well be a 30 year old living with my parents, because pain is just as pushy about knowing what’s best in this relationship.
But one thing it never seems to get the best of me on is reading. No matter how much my right arm ceases to function in a day (frequently), I can still read a book. Not only that, I find pain relief in a book – in the briefest of moments when my mind is consumed in a story that doesn’t revolve around my relationship with pain.
I don’t spend money on many frivolous things (I hate shopping and I don’t have ENOUGH shoes because of it), but from far before I ever had a pain condition I have had a stupid large book and movie collection. (When I moved to California, I sold and/or donated a suitcase of books.) But here’s the thing about devouring books when you are in pain: pain is expensive! In exact numbers, pain is approximately $9,000 in 2013, $7,800 in 2014, and a surpassed mark of $2,000 so far in 2015. Those are my out of pocket portions, not the insurance totals. I didn’t necessarily seek out free books when I noticed those numbers, but I did sort of wake up and realize one day I had no need to pay for these wonderful pain relieving things anymore. Amazon Prime was giving them away with my account, Good Reads was hooking me into ARCs, those who love and care for me were sending me what they believed I would enjoy (in the only efforts they knew they could contribute to assisting with my illness), and the library was just down the street.
I’m a sociologist by training, and ask any of us – we can’t watch a damn episode of TV anymore without thinking about the implication of the gender dynamics involved. And it’s with that mind that I take a spin at analysis of books (and life) and give thinking about pain a rest. A much, much needed rest.
This blog contains reviews of the many free books I now find myself surrounded with : the good, the amazing, and the truly, truly terrible. It’s the connection of these books to society and my current condition, and in truth how wound up together all 3 eventually become. Maybe I’ll stay focused. Maybe I’ll end up telling you that rambling tale of how I ended up in California. Either way, I’m glad you’re along for the ride to my (maybe) sanity.