Reading in the Time of a Virus

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Good morning everyone! How are you all doing? This is Week 3 (I think?) of working from home for me. It was definitely an adjustment, but very thankful I have been allowed this opportunity to continue to work, just from my home now.

Are you feeling the Cabin Fever settling in? We definitely are here. Definitely. Like everywhere, most places are closed. My library announced yesterday that it will be closed indefinitely. It was to be expected there could be no April 6th opening date like originally planned, but it’s still difficult to see the “closed indefinitely” sign hanging in their windows.

With the libraries closed, I originally felt some relief (not really though) because it might allow me to focus on reading from my own shelves and also…we have all this time to focus on our reading now don’t we? At least that’s what I initially thought. What could be a better way to get a whole lot of reading done right?

However…I’m only plodding through or reading at a much slower pace than usual with the books I am able to read. I’m easily distracted – how could you not be? It’s all so overwhelming!

Sophie Vershbow wrote about this very feeling for Vogue, saying,
“I’ve always relied on books to transport me to another world, one where my own problems don’t exist, so it’s especially heartbreaking that I haven’t found comfort in their pages now when I need it the most. For the past three weeks, while social distancing alone in my one-bedroom apartment, I haven’t been able to read. It’s as if there’s a fog cast over my brain, preventing the words from seeping in. Over and over I find myself reaching the bottom of the page only to realize I hadn’t the faintest idea what I’ve just read.”

And we’re both clearly not the only ones, of course, suffering. Vershbow also wrote, “At least I know I’m not alone. On Sunday morning I tweeted about my sudden inability to read, and was met with dozens of responses lamenting similar frustrations. “I feel seen” wrote one commenter. “I love reading. I need reading. But I just can’t right now,” replied another. “

In March, I read only 4 books. I can generally get through many more than that! Normally like 7 or 8 maybe, sometimes even 10 if I’m really chugging along? A positive note about only reading 4 books is that all of them were excellent. They were all good and solid 4-star reads. They were also all very different from each other ranging from contemporary to cozy mystery. I think if I had to rank one in first place it could be House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild. However, Writers and Lovers by Lily King was an unexpected delight for me. Normally, books written in the style King used – short, clipped sentences, and with a fair amount of dialogue – don’t always work for me. This one really did though! The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is a book well within my wheelhouse and was a very good dual timeline story. And, I reached specifically for A Match Made in Murder by Iona Whishaw because spending time with the characters in these Lane Winslow series is never disappointing. I figured it would be bring me a sense of calm and happiness, and I was completely right about that.

I did also listen to 2 audiobooks in March, which is fairly normal. This too is where I’m currently struggling. I normally listen on my commute to and from work and I had every intention of using that time spent in the car by converting it to time spent walking. I’ve done that only twice in the past weeks. :-( I have since downloaded about 3 or 4 audiobooks, but nothing has stuck for me. The two I read though before our world turned upside down were both excellent and 5-star reads! I highly recommend the audio for both of these:

So while I DO need to make sure I’m out walking everyday, and it shouldn’t be such a problem since the weather is getting nicer, I’m going to also try and listen to an audiobook while I work. I always have music playing in the background because I can’t work (or read) in silence. But my distraction or whatever this is that I’m feeling is carrying over to my audiobook choices, in that, I can’t settle on one. I just don’t know what I want to listen to right now?

I do think I’m going to give this one a try and hope for audiobook joy:

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl narrated by Julia Whelan

(I can also use it for the 2020 Reading Women Challenge for the task on reading a book about food. This just seems like it’s light enough to listen to while working (and walking!) ;-) )

I’m also distracted by ALL.THE.BOOKS at home too! So many books! Which ones should I read first? So many I want to read – duh! I bought them to read! Can I get my focus going and really start reading through the many, many books I have here? I’ll be working from home for at least one more month for sure – that statement was just released by our university’s president. So, I could use this time to seriously read through the books here, there and everyone in my home. Right?

I know I created this kind of schedule for myself and I did stick to it somewhat, I did read Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor and I’m currently reading Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed. Violet Swan is turning out to be a good read for me, for some reason I’m finding it a nice and calming book to read, Violet Swan is such a great character to read right now. It seems odd, but it’s strangely soothing for me to read about this woman artist in her 90s nearing her end of days.

Even though I expressed excitement about tearing into Kate Mosse’s City of Tears, I don’t know if it’s the one I want to read next? I also have many other chunky books on my shelf to read. Do I want to read a chunkster right now? Could this mean I finally get to Middlemarch? Doesn’t Middlemarch sound like something great to read right about now? Staring at me too is The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. There is too the other two chunksters I mentioned in my Schedule post: The Mirror and the Light and The Name of the Rose.

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad has been appearing on a number of shortlists too – the Walter Scott Prize and just today announced to be on the Desmond Elliott Prize. That’s sitting there staring at me too.

Just in time before deliveries from afar wouldn’t arrive, I ordered two books from Book Depository: The Offing by Benjamin Myers and Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance by Frances Maynard. I could make short work of reading through these before digging into a chunkier book….

These among the 50 other hundred I have waiting patiently for me….oh the decisions! I think there is reading books, but then there is also searching out books to read next too right? ;-)

I hope you are all staying safe and you are able to get some good reading in! What have you been able to read? Any recommendations for good reading in the time of a virus??