open book

Michael W. Clune writes about a unique event that happened during his childhood: he staved off a panic attack by reading. While reading Ivanhoe, he thought he was about to have a heart attack. He only learned later that it was actually a panic attack. So he read the entire book, all night long, without stopping, in order to delay what felt like the inevitable. Here’s how he puts it:

“I suspended the heart attack in Ivanhoe. Like when you shake a solution of oil and vinegar. As long as you shake it, the oil and vinegar are suspended in one another. When you stop, they separate. So long as I read Ivanhoe my heart attack stayed suspended in the story.”

This is from the article “The Anatomy of Panic,” in the recent issue of Harper’s. Recommended.

Have you ever used a book to delay the destruction of your life?