The most surprising thing about having Chronic Fatigue was the insomnia.  Even if I could get to sleep, it wouldn’t be for long, and I’d be stuck, wide awake, and bored in the wee small hours.  I knew watching TV would exacerbate matters, so I would turn to one of my favourite pastimes: reading.

In the early days I’d turn to the novel I was reading at the time, and get so caught up in it, that it would become part of the problem!  Personal development type books were slightly better, but would result in thoughts racing through my head: another distraction from sleep.  I needed a different kind of book.

These three books have helped me at various times, to drift happily into sleep.  The first is a myth about a dream-giver; the second a series of stories about Paris; and the third a collection of letters.

The first book, the one that helped me the most when I had Chronic Fatigue, is Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith.  It must’ve been a recommendation, because I’m not sure I’d have picked it up otherwise.  It’s a retelling of the myth of Angus, the giver of dreams in Celtic mythology.  Even as I write this I feel calm and settled.  The book is split into different stories, which means you can read one and not feel compelled to read the next one, as you might do with a traditional novel.  The stories are both magical and mysterious, and while your imagination is awakened, it’s in a calm, dream-like way, and I find that I drift off to sleep with the magic and mystery, feeling as if I’m already half sleeping.  I love this book.

The second book is The Most Beautiful Walk In The World by John Baxter.  I came across this memoir after reading my friend, Diane Leigh’s memoir, Dream Seed Magic, about finding and living her dream in Paris.  The Most Beautiful Walk In The World chronicles John Baxter’s Paris: a world of writers, poets, artists, and revolutionaries, all taken in on foot.  Walking is the best way to see Paris, and John has some beautiful routes to share, and the stories that go along with them.  I love to read a chapter and then dream of Paris as I drift off to sleep.  Bliss!

The third book is a little different than the first two, in that it’s comedic.  Love, Nina: Dispatches From Family Life by Nina Stibbe, is a series of letters Nina wrote to her sister when she went to work as a nanny in London.  It was 1982, she was twenty years old, and she knew nothing about children, cooking, or living away from home.  She ends up nannying for a family with two children and Alan Bennett as a regular supper guest.  It’s a hilarious read, but as with the other two books, you can read for a while and then put the book down, drifting off to sleep thinking of Nina’s exploits rather than what you have to do tomorrow.