One reason for my slightly compulsive reading habit is that some people in my house continue to be challenging. It's nice to sit down at the end of the day and read myself, if briefly, into a different life. Between that and a good night's sleep, I'm usually refreshed enough to face the day again. I thought perhaps that my stress level was higher than I realized when I chose a book about time travelling to the year 1348, which, as I'm sure you know, was the year the plague arrived in England, subsequently killing half the population.
The book was The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. (This is the same author who wrote Black Out and All Clear, which I've written about before.) This book also takes place in the same future universe as the other two books, but occurs earlier. It also has the same characters and it was very satisfying to discover some of their back story which was alluded to in the other books and tied up a few loose ends. The premise is the same. Time travel is used by historians to learn about past eras. In this case, the historians plan a drop to the year 1320, the first time someone will be travelling so far back in time. Then things go wrong and the black death makes its appearance. There are concurrent stories of other epidemics and it was actually rather interesting reading it while also reading about the current Ebola epidemic. Well, interesting in a rather grim way, that is.
I'm not usually one for reading books that are too Serious (i.e. depressing). They tend to be a dime a dozen and frankly, I have enough Serious in my life. This book managed to be a great read while at the same time conveying the scope and tragedy of the epidemic. Plus, since we are studying Medieval history this year, it could kind of count as school preparation and I'm really glad I got the teacher's discount at the bookstore when I bought it.
(No, I don't usually buy books, preferring the library to keep me in enough reading material. But I seem to have an annual tradition of going to the library desperately in need of books on the day before Labor Day only to discover the library is closed. I do this every. single. year.)
I really do recommend this book, even if the subject matter seems tough. It really did count as escapist reading and was quite well done. I would even more strongly recommend it if you have any desire to read the other two books about time travelling historians. Meeting the characters in this book would make the initial chapters of the Black Out a little bit easier to make out. Try it.