Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Reading in the Time of Corona

Reading in the Time of Corona

(My apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez for mangling his title. By the way, I went to my local library’s online catalog to check out Love in the Time of Cholera, after seeing it referenced in American Dirt. There was a waitlist for this book, which is not exactly a new release. Is it really that popular, still? Or are other readers interested for the same reason I am?)

So, COVID-19 is upon us. I am a teacher, and while I’m currently on spring break, 
I’ll be teaching remotely when it’s over, via a teleconference app called Zoom. I’ve 
got a green sheet hanging behind my desk to act as a green screen, so I can show background pictures from all over France. 

But our online teaching day will end at 2, and my evening activities are canceled: yoga class, dog training, therapy, etc. What to do but read? I already read about 100 books a year, but I expect my number to be even higher this year. Here’s a picture of my to-read shelf from the beginning of the voluntary self-isolation period.

I was really excited about reading Queen of America, by Luis Alberto Urrea, the sequel to his heartbreaking novel, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, about a young woman who becomes a saint to the oppressed people of Mexico, in the late 1800s. I am typically more likely to cry at a movie than a book, but I shed tears at least twice during that first novel. However, having just completed American Dirt with my new book club, I am unwilling to take on another book about Mexican suffering at this time. I know, first world problems. I am truly grateful I am only reading about it, not living it.

So my first pick off the shelf will be Generosity, by Richard Powers, author of the life-changing book The Overstory. If you haven't read The Overstory, just read it. It's about trees and people, and how the way we treat trees is killing our environment -- which will kill us. After reading The Overstory, I read his novel about AI (artificial intelligence), Galatea 2.2, which was just not as compelling for me. I hope Generosity is more like The Overstory.

That’s it for now. Let me know what you’re looking forward to reading in the comments!

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