When times seem bad, read about a time that was even worse

Right now I’m reading The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. It’s a detailed chronicle of Winston Churchill and Great Britain from 1940 to 1941. During those two years, Londoners suffered the extreme anxiety and danger of regular, destructive bombing from the Germans.

When I chose this book as my Book of the Month pick for March, I chose it because Erik Larson is a pretty famous non-fiction author. I didn’t chose it at all because I thought reading about a terrible historical time in the past would make me feel better about the terrible things happening in the now. I didn’t realize that was going to be true until the blue box arrived on my doorstep and I read the first few pages. Now I’m on page 339.

Weirdly, some of the details so far have felt slightly familiar.

Shortages made some realms of hygiene more problematic. Women found tampons increasingly difficult to acquire. At least one brand of toilet paper was also in perilously short supply, as the king himself discovered.

But most of it is so unimaginably worse.

One of the worst effects was lack of sleep…”It’s not the bombs I’m scared of any more, it’s the weariness,” wrote a female civil servant in her Mass-Observation diary—“trying to work and concentrate with your eyes sticking out of your head like hat-pins, after being up all night. I’d die if my sleep, happily, if only I could sleep.”

“My heart misses a beat whenever a car changes gear-up, or when someone runs, or walks very quickly, or suddenly stands still, or cocks their head on one side, or stares up at the sky, or says ‘Sshh!’ or whistles blow, or a door bangs in the wind or a mosquito buzzes in the room. So taken all round my heart seems to miss more beats than it ticks!!”

The blast blew off the shelter door.
Her seven-year-old said, “That nearly blew my hair off.”
Her three-year-old: It nearly blew my head off!”

I know that me being in Dallas as a teenager makes me way safer from the coronavirus than many people around the world right now, but if you’re feeling stressed, maybe reading about a time that was even worse will help you feel less on edge too. Reading about the inner thoughts and lives of these normal people who were killed or almost killed by bombs for months very quickly made the present seem not as grim.

Are your parents freaking out?
Has school been canceled for you?
How are you doing?

22 thoughts on “When times seem bad, read about a time that was even worse”

  1. There was actually a confirmed case here yesterday at my school so we’re closed for the next two days, I’m doing fine though. It’s a bit of a mess at the moment because there have only been just over ten cases in the country so far but more are always being discovered, I think eventually it’ll calm down when we’ve gotten a grip on the situation but honestly I have no idea when that’ll be. This is a great post though, and you always read such interesting books!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh noo, that’s scary. I haven’t heard anybody currently at my school that has been confirmed, but I do know that one family has been affected and even that makes it a lot closer to home. I have no idea either-there’s people saying where I am that school will be canceled for the rest of the year.
      Thank you! What are you reading right now?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. No way, I’m reading War and Peace right now! How are you liking what you’ve read so far? Okay, it’s similar for me as well: we’re in lockdown until May, and I know I’m not going back to school until at least May 4.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Hahah, my copy of War and Peace has a long introduction too, but I skipped it. Does your Anna Karenina have a list of the different families and characters at the front? When I first saw it in mine, I was like oh no that can’t be good, but it’s been much easier than I expected to keep track of everybody.
              I know :((

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Ohh, which of Shakespeare’s plays have you read? I’ve read Romeo and Juliet and Henry IV for school, and I listened to Othello on audiobook. Hahah, maybe I will read go back to read the introduction after I finish? I’m SO CLOSE to finishing War & Peace! Are you liking Anna Karenina so far?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra; they were all kinda for school but mainly the first two haha. And omg that’s awesome, go you! I… uh haven’t read any more of it yet. Oops

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Ohh, that’s awesome! What did you think about all of them besides Romeo and Juliet? For the Shakespeare I didn’t have to read for school, I listened to it on audiobook because it helped to hear the different voices. And hahaha

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. oh that’s really smart, I should do that; it would definitely help with understanding and be more like a play, when we studied shakespeare in class my teacher would always get different people to read the voices and stuff so yeah. Uh I quite liked Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth is really good for analysis and exams and I like to compare it to House of Cards haha, The Tempest is an interesting play and same with The Merchant of Venice but I think The Merchant of Venice is the one I like the least

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  2. What an interesting post. Even in the chaos that seems world-ending, there was a worse time. But we got through it. So we’ll get though this too! Hope you’re safe, and never be too careful!
    School has not cancelled in the U.K. because Boris says it’ll do more harm than good. I half agree with him, but if it gets worse the country will probably go on lockdown. I’m fortunate enough to be safe from the largest areas of the virus.
    Stay safe 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!
      Has anything changed when it comes to school in the past two weeks? Also, I heard that Boris Johnson was tested positive–I can’t imagine what that news must be like as someone living in the U.K.
      Thank you, and you too :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, and schools have closed over here. Our prime minister has tested positive but I don’t think he’s suffering with symptoms, it was just traced on his body.
        How are things where you are? Hope you’re well and staying safe! x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think schools everywhere have closed for the US too, but for Texas they’re closed until at least May. When is your school scheduled to end? Mine ends the very end of May. Ohh okay, I see–that’s really good, I hope he recovers quickly. There aren’t too many cases where I am overall and also in the past few days, and I’m still able to go to my neighborhood playground and walk outside–I think I would be way more stir-crazy if I couldn’t leave my house. How about you? And you too!! :))

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My school closed on Thursday two weeks ago and we have no clue when they’ll be opened again. It could even be post summer break!
            The UK have enforced regulations which mean we can only go out once a day – for exercise – and do essential shopping every ten days. Hope you’re safe! Take care of yourself 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yes, I think my school is going to be closed for the rest of the year too–crazy. I think there might be a chance at the very end of May? The administrators might want to let us just come back for a week and hang out together.
              Oh wow, has that been tough? America hasn’t enforced regulations like that across the country. Has buying grocery deliveries gotten popular? And thank you! You too :))
              Also, random–I briefly saw this Youtube video by Joe Sugg about him fainting on a popular British baking show?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. People panic-bought in the first few weeks, though that’s definitely settled now. Grocery shopping isn’t what it used to be but I haven’t been into the supermarket as there can only be one person from each household at a time. It’s quite surreal, though I’m glad it’s being controlled.
                Joe unfortunately did faint on the Bake Off, though he raised so much money for charity in the process. Have you watched the full video? He can explain it better than me!
                Stay safe, Annie! Hope you’re well x

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Oh, that’s great! I’m not sure what the panic buying situation is like across the US. I haven’t been to the grocery store yet either. I actually don’t even know if there’s a rule like that where I am, but I think most people are generally staying in anyways. It is so surreal, even now.
                  Oh, I didn’t know it was for charity! That’s amazing. Hahah, yes I did watch the entire video. I love that he asked people to send in memes about it.
                  Thank you! You too :))

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. It’s great news that people are staying in. I’ve been in isolation for a month now which is crazy! Hope you’re well. Make sure to keep watching Joe Sugg if you’re feeling down because he’ll definitely put a smile on your face. Stay safe! Try to be happy! x

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Wow, that is crazy. Wait, I think I have too. Whaaat. But for me, isolation means I can still go out into my neighborhood. Haha, I will need to remember that! And oh my goodness, thank you–you too!! :))

                      Liked by 1 person

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