Monthly Archives: July 2020

Take That 2013 – Pandemic Reading List

So, way back in December 2013, I wrote about my New Year’s Resolution to read 24 books. It was a couple weeks from the end of the year, and I was this close.

I set the same goal for 2020, and with the help of my new book club, I figured I’d get there. Knowing that 9 clever, well-read women are waiting for me every third Thursday of the month is enough to keep me on my toes.

And then came Pandemic Brain. I don’t think I need to explain what that is, since most of the world is having a similar experience. Fear, strain, constraint, frustration, boredom, and… happiness?

After each long day of juggling work and family and the unknown, the magic hour came. Usually around 11 p.m. A dark quiet house, a bowl of chips or a glass of wine (sometimes both), me and my book. And suddenly I felt exhilarated. Amazed and secretly thrilled that I had this couple of hours for myself. The contrast with my same-same-same daily routine was incredible. Life felt good.

And I started devouring books. Between mid-March and the end of July, I finished 14. It was like the words fed my brain, and I went to bed every night (much too late) feeling nourished and relaxed.

So, with 5 months to go in 2020, I’m already at 22 books. It’s a bit silly how pleased I am with that number, but hey, any little burst of joy these days helps.

Here are a few selections from my Pandemic Reading List, each of them a surprise and a delight.

(I’m not going to link to any big retailers here. I’m trying to support small local stores and I hope everyone who can will do the same.)

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart – Sharp and observant, one of many book club selections that I never would have chosen for myself. As Constance Brady says in Vox, “Lake Success makes you like Barry almost against your will.”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – So absorbing and so, so long. We started buying meat straight from a farm after this!

The Guest List by Lucy Foley – Chilling yet charming, a non-scary thriller.

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl – Oh, the life of writerly New Yorkers!

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – More New York envy but desperation-flavoured this time. An of-the-moment look at gender dynamics.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore – Who can resist a twisty time travel story?

I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum – TV is smart. Period.

The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer – Made me stay up even longer past my bedtime.

I’ve always found comfort in books and in the knowledge that I will never run out of them. Science writer David Quammen said it best:

Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.

It’s totally a coincidence that I first heard of David today and in 2012 he wrote a book about animal infections spilling over into humans. But let’s end on a happier note from Dr. Seuss:

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and the nooks.

Onward to number 23.