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Sylvia Warren graduated from Oxford in biology, after diversions in precious metals, parasites, and archaeology. She now works for Blackwell’s as their University of Oxford Liaison.

Page Turner

Sylvia Warren

May Morning makes me think of hangovers. Those grand, biblical hangovers where getting out of bed is not even going to reach the top ten spot for the most impossible things you do before breakfast. That said, May is just about decent enough in terms of publishing to have an excellent excuse to languish in bed and nurse your aching head.

For instance, F Scott Fitzgerald always makes me think of hangovers, and his wife Zelda used to write letters the next morning apologising for her behaviour when drunk. This month, a collection of lost short stories of Fitzgerald are being published, deemed either too scandalous or not commercial enough during his heyday. I’d Die for You, and Other Lost Stories were written in the depths of Fitzgerald’s alcoholism, but as it is Fitzgerald it seems so beautiful and tragic you won’t mind. His facility with language, added to the anti-censorship nature of the stories, are mesmerizing-plus. On the bright side, however much you drank, you at least didn’t leap into a fountain in New York completely naked and get arrested for public indecency (N.B: If you did, please contact us so we can get in touch).

If your hangover is of a really bad kind then the opening of Henry Marsh’s Admissions may well be a panacea. Admissions, a follow up to the Wellcome Prize shortlisted Do No Harm, is a valediction in the model of Oliver Sacks’ Gratitude, and yet is as hopeful in its outlook as you could wish for.

Surgeons apparently accept cases of good wine from the relatives they have operated on; this book is the case of wine to the public. If you read one non-fiction book this year, this should be the one.

But if your hangover is approaching the terminal level and all you can do is lie in bed and groan, then what you need is comfort lit.

Everyones' needs are slightly different, but I find you can’t go wrong with a good thriller. I'd pick up a luridly covered Erle Stanley Gardner as a first choice, but as this has to be a current column, the consummate bestseller goddess Paula Hawkins is about to come out with her second novel, Into the Water.

The Girl on the Train sold about a trillion copies, and there is no doubt her latest will pick up the beat.

She's pacy (if slightly predictable) and will keep you gripped until you are feeling better.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with the brilliance of true comfort-lit. Just like a luxurious cheese on toast, everyone has a natural genre. Personally I like pulpy thrillers that have a defined baddy and a dubious hero, but that’s just me.


We all have to find our hangover cure...



- Sylvia Warren