Last fall, while visiting my mother, I came down with a dreadful cold. Chilled and miserable, I banished myself to the basement bedroom. Leafy silhouettes framed the windows and I could just make out the bottom of fence posts. The subterranean setting—usually a wonderfully dark and quiet place to sleep—didn’t improve my mood; however, directly across from the bed sat rows and rows of built-in cabinets filled, almost to bursting, with books.
Classic editions of Jane Eyre and Kim nestled up next to volumes of Idaho history and Mexican travel books. Runny nose forgotten, I selected Anne of Green Gables, a book that I somehow never read when I was young. Of course, I knew the story, had even seen the mini-series starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth, which I highly recommend.
But I wasn’t prepared for how much the book would affect me. I could see, almost smell and hear, all the sights and sounds of L.M. Montgomery’s Prince Edward Island. Soon I forgot about my cold with one foot in my basement bedroom and the other in Green Gables.
It reminded me of how many times I have found a literary cure, whether it be listening to Barbara Rosenblat read an Elizabeth Peters mystery while recovering from the flu or making worries disappear through Persuasion (or any book by Jane Austen).
I found myself malingering a bit, not wanting to leave Anne and the rows of bookshelves. The sun splashed through my basement window and a leaf fell to the ground. I read, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?” Anne was right—it was time for me rejoin the world and enjoy autumn.
Anne of Green Gables had conquered the common cold.