I’ve found reading while stuck at home amidst a global health crisis to be very difficult. For weeks now I could barely focus on a book for more than a few minutes (which is why I skipped a Reading List for March). But I was finally able to flip through two titles…
I intentionally don’t address my personal life on this blog. I suppose I intend for this to be a site where I share my interests, but not myself. However, my current self is finding it hard to feel engaged by my interests.
I doubt the global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (specifically the COVID-19 disease) is news for you. Like almost everyone I know, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and uncertainty about the unknown. I so badly want to rely on the things that bring me the most comfort, like restful sleep and great stories, but they are the exact activities I’m finding it most challenging to tune into.
In the past month I’ve learned that I need a quiet mind to read. I often experience anxious thoughts, but, previously, whatever I read would usually help me tone them down (and that’s my personal indicator of a great book). Because my mind has been the opposite of quiet lately, I either avoid picking up my current book or quickly toss it aside.
In early March I decided to abandon the just-released Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today, which I was graciously gifted by Grand Central Publishing. I didn’t dislike anything about it, but I observed I was having a difficult time focusing when paging through it. I almost put away an advanced copy of The House of Deep Water (sent to me by G.P. Putnam’s Sons) for good after taking more than a week to scrape through the first eight pages. I’ve only kept up with it because I realized it’s not the book, it’s my mind.
I’m not sure how or when I can look forward to relief. Reading is my comfort, and the absence of it leaves me feeling insecure when uncertainty and fear are already weighing on my mind. However, I am confident that, once this phase passes, I will dive back into some truly great books.
[My review was not solicited or expected in exchange for the books gifted to me as mentioned. No links are affiliate.]
February is a crappy month. I did not have much to look forward to (no travel plans, holidays, or even a friend’s birthday to celebrate) and spring still seems far off. A few good books, however, can more than compensate for the dreariness. I was fortunate to have some new releases that fit the bill: a sweet YA fiction, a really incredible memoir, and an evocative genre-bender.
- Yes No Maybe So (Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed)
- My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (Jenn Shapland)
- Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Cathy Park Hong)
Like clockwork, the anticipation of the New Year encourages me to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments as they influence the next year’s intentions. When I review what I read in 2019, it’s easy to recognize there were a few novels I truly loved, while the rest I have already forgotten. I made a dedicated effort to experiment with first-time authors and focused a lot more attention on nonfiction picks than I typically would. It was refreshing to mix things up this year, but this likely factored into my lukewarm feelings about most of what I read. As for my intentions for 2020 books, I still plan to get exposure to new (or, new to me) authors, but hope to take pleasure in their works more than I did this year.
I really enjoy scrolling through “the best of 2019” book lists at this time of year and building my future reading list from it, so I’ve selected my own favorites to help you discover material you might have never tried otherwise. And, because I’m also an avid podcast fan and discovered some really inspiring new content this year, I’ve listed some podcasts as a bonus!
My partner gave me a compliment a few weeks ago that got me thinking about style. . .
“You look just like Mo!” she praised, assessing my striped sweater and pinstripe pants.
Sweet scents of crunched leaves
open my heart to simpler
times of my childhood.
When cool breezes meant
scarves wrapped tightly around me
to ward off the flu,
warm fleece could protect
me from growing jaded with
life’s cyclical rhythm.