• Pandemic Reading: What Are You Reaching For?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in CoronaVirus     Comments 84 comments
    Mar
    21

    Discussion question: What are you reading during this pandemic?

     

    During this weird time I wanted to run a bunch of discussion posts where we can all keep in touch and talk about specific things like what we’re writing and what we’re reading, and general things like… how we’re making it through this. Find links to the other posts at the bottom of this one.

     

    For this post, let’s share with each other what books and mags and newspapers are on our nightstands, or the table next to our reading chairs, or on the toilet tank.

    Are you reaching for home-hitting nonfiction like The Hot Zone and fiction like The Stand and The Andromeda Strain?

    Are you hoping to use this time to catch up on some classics you’ve never dipped into?

    Or just tackle your TBR pile? (Including, perhaps, that giant stack of unread New Yorker mags?)

    What are you reading on the internet? Where do you keep up with current events? How much of your reading these days is coming from Twitter and Facebook, et al?

    Let’s talk about it in the comments. Share your plans, share your recommendations, share the ways in which this situation is affecting your reading time and approach.

     

    Here are links to our other three discussion posts:

    What we’re writing during this pandemic

    How we’re writing, during this pandemic, and how it’s helping keep us sane

    A general discussion post where you can talk (or vent) about whatever you want: what’s the vibe in your house, your town or city, your state, your country? What movies and TV shows are you watching? How much toilet paper do you have left? How weird is this?

    Stay safe, friends. Stay healthy. Stay home, as much as you can.

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Joe Giordano
    2 months ago

    Love in the Time of Coronavirus by Gabriel García Márquez. Just kidding.

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Joe Giordano

    Funny Joe!

    Joe Giordano
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Torria Stevens

    Thank you. Perhaps you’ll also find this amusing.
    http://joe-giordano.com/2020/02/29/the-end-of-the-italian-bread/
    Joe.

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Joe Giordano

    Interesting scene Joe, interesting dialogue too. The characters come across as strong-willed and they match each other eye-for-eye – you know them well. So your a novelist – fabulous!…and thank you for sharing.

    Joe Giordano
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Torria Stevens

    Thanks for reading and the kind comment. If you have the time, please sign up for my blog. http://joe-giordano.com/ My publishers have a $0.99 eBook promotion for Birds of Passage – An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (4.5 stars on Amazon), Appointment with ISIL (4.8 stars), and Drone Strike (4.7 stars), a Thriller Magazine award finalist. Stay healthy. Joe.

    Hans De Leo
    Hans De Leo
    2 months ago

    Well, you might have noticed (maybe not) that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working lots of hours and was focused on using what little time I had for what I needed to do. Yesterday was my 45th wedding anniversary, and we’re taking a weekend getaway along the north short of Lake Superior. As I write this I can look out the window at the lake, see the water, some patchy light fog, and the south shore in the distance. A 12-foot skiff putted by carrying 3 people with fishing poles. the past few weeks have been trying… Read more »

    Fred Grewe
    2 months ago

    currently reading Echoing Silence (Merton on writing), The Heart Sutra by Red Pine, and The Art of Memoir by Karr … fortunately still have my day job three days a week

    Susan
    Susan
    2 months ago
    Reply to  Fred Grewe

    Thomas Merton, I’m assuming… I read Seven Story Mountain and love him. Did not know about Echoing Silence. I might have to add it to the growing list of TBRs.

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Fred Grewe

    They sound interesting, Fred.

    Elissa Malcohn
    Elissa Malcohn
    2 months ago

    Currently I’m reading the latest loan from Brooklyn Public Library (where I hold a nonresident card), Dark Towers by David Enrich. After that, I will return to finish reading William Still’s The Underground Railroad, a free download from Project Gutenberg. (There are many “shelter in place” stories in the Still, for a vastly different reason.) I’ve also been reading these aloud to my partner, who is currently devouring the latest issue of Science News and reading sections aloud to me. In other words, our pandemic reading generally matches our non-pandemic reading. Back in January I read Daniel Defoe’s A Journal… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn
    Elissa Malcohn
    2 months ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Knew about JSTOR but not Artstor. Thanks.

    Jennifer Pommer
    Jennifer Pommer
    2 months ago

    Right now I’m living solo so the stay-at-home policy could seem very lonely, but I do have a lot to do, though unfortunately, the walls don’t talk to me or talk back to me or sing with me.  The books I’ve chosen to read for this time are by Anne Perry, a British crime writer who has a series of 17+ books on Victorian England. I started one about half way through her series (I started the series a few years ago). For now, they are perfect because they transport me to another historical period and other people’s lives, attitudes, and… Read more »

    Raymundo
    2 months ago

    I follow several alt-news sites and Twitter for news on the COVID. My non-news reading at the moment is “After December” by Kasie Whitener. Reading for me is slowed, though, as I push on writing my novel.

    KevinW
    KevinW
    2 months ago

    I pulled “Palm Sunday” by Kurt Vonnegut off the shelf over the weekend. It’s a sort of “odds and sods” collection of ramblings, musings, interview segments, etc…for some reason, this seems to be a forgotten book. Maybe the title is the reason? Something about his tone is very reassuring to me…sensible, yet existentially resigned…”And so it goes”…all we can do is keep on keeping on…he made an interesting observation regarding WW2 literature, that it almost seems that everyone who lived through it had to publish their war story afterwards. So now I’m thinking about how we will be inundated with… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn
    Elissa Malcohn
    2 months ago
    Reply to  KevinW

    You had me at Studs Terkel. Love his work.

    KevinW
    KevinW
    2 months ago
    Reply to  Elissa Malcohn

    I’m not aware of anyone who is doing the sort of books he did, though I’m sure there must be many. “Race” and “Hard Times” made the biggest impression on me. Cornelius Ryan sort of did something similar in that he wrote about big events from multiple viewpoints. “The Last Battle” starts with the memories of a Berlin milkman who made deliveries every morning for 40 years, until one 4:00am in the spring of 1945 when business-as-usual was interrupted by the Russian artillery barrage. Meanwhile, in General Chuikov’s headquarters…

    KevinW
    KevinW
    2 months ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with his work for years. I’ve mostly give over tova at this point in my life. I read “Mother Night” as a teenager and it made no impression at all. A pointless story about a notorious nothing of a nobody…why bother writing it? Then, with a few more miles on my odometer, I re-read it and was stunned. “You are what you pretend to be…”. A few bucks and the feeling of being “somebody” is worth spiritual bankruptcy to Campbell. His own history repeats itself, on a smaller, more tawdry scale. And at the end… Read more »

    Susan
    Susan
    2 months ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    I watched the clip. The way Vonnegut looks into that camera, I think I would like it when I’m finally going through that tunnel “toward the light” as they say, if he would stick his head out and look at me with just that expression: “You okay?” he’d say. “We were wondering if you’d made it.” Then my grandparents would come and get me.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    And you would think it lovelier if you knew my grandparents. They were all so cute. I need a writing prompt about them.

    Susan
    Susan
    2 months ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    oh, you poor thing. Uncle Thaddeus and I just got off the last exit to Brooklyn,like you said. Maybe we can pick you up

    KevinW
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Yeah…no guilt, no love, and death is his only friend…the coward’s trifecta of spiritual bankruptcy. He’s stuck there because he realizes its time to die, no reason to go on. Now I have to see the rest of the movie…

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Tralfamadore?

    KevinW
    KevinW
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Susan

    Ithaca is closer…or San Lorenzo…

    KevinW
    KevinW
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Susan

    Funny that you mentioned that Susan. I pulled out the Selby novel yesterday but decided I wasn’t in the mood for something that depressing.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  KevinW

    I have to be really depressed to read something depressing and then I feel better. By the way, are you psychic?

    KevinW
    KevinW
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Susan

    Closer to psychotic than psychic, I think.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    My older brother is a big Vonnegut fan and is currently reading Galapagos. He says it is appropriate for the times… Have you read it?

    Jerry Schwartz
    Jerry Schwartz
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Susan

    My mind went towards “Cat’s Cradle.”

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  KevinW

    Oh, that’s good.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago

    I am right now in the middle of a Washington Post article about Sinead O’Conor, what she’s doing now, where she’s been. I think she has one of the most beautiful voices ever and is one of the most interesting people. One of the pictures in the article is of a tattoo on her neck that says This Too Must Pass. I’ve always heard that saying as This Too Shall Pass. She would change ‘shall’ to ‘must’, that seems very like her. Maybe she can sing this virus away. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/entertainment/sinead-oconnor-still-in-one-piece/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Once it starts it never stops, at least mine didn’t… Seriously now, David, I hope you’re doing okay. It can’t be easy living in the epicenter there. New York was hit so hard. Stay healthy.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Yes, that is a good way to describe it. I felt sad to hear of John Prine in critical condition and I thought of trying somehow to play a game here, like start a John Prine line “It was Christmas in prison, and the food was real good…” and see who can get the next line, or something. I felt better just remembering all his songs. We’ll all have to try to think of some uplifting, more light-hearted, ways to respond to this thing, but still take it seriously.

    Brigitte
    Brigitte
    1 month ago

    Hi and good afternoon David and Justine, I am in middle of reading a book written by Leo Buscaglia, titled; Loving Each Other. I bought this book at the library right before it closed. I found it on the USED book shelf to keep me busy during this time. The chapter on Forgiveness is VERY healing. I am taking this time to focus on helping My Inner Self and tapping into some of my creative potential. The quiet time has helped me to take time out and just chill and be with myself and my family. Leo Buscaglia’s book has… Read more »

    RJ
    RJ
    1 month ago

    I’m reading “Freedom from fear ” by Dave M. Kennedy.

    RJ
    RJ
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Hi David. Yes it’s a giant book but there’s a couple ways to look at. (1) it’s detailed regarding cause and effect of the onset of the great depression and resulting turmoil our country experienced. (2) my favorite lens in which to view the issue: great personalities that just seemed to be in the right place in the right time. It’s an excellent testimony of great leadership.

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  RJ

    Niiiiice!

    Barbara Mealer
    1 month ago

    The Islands at the End of the World and the Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan who is a local Flagstaff writer. I meet him at a library sponsored workshop on writing and marketing. They are alternative history. I avoid news programs as all they do is create mass hysteria. All they needed to do was to give social distancing, stay home if you are sick or have immune problems, respiratory issues, aged or less than 5 y/o, good hand washing and keeping you hands away from your face. Other than more people needing hospitalized, this… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    stop watching TV. Not only is it only repeating the same junk, it isn’t good for your mental health at any time, especially the news. I read, watch kids movies or those with happy endings, work on my writing. I have a lot of time to write simply because I don’t Waste time watching things that don’t matter and the news once a week is plenty.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Jerry Schwartz
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Isle of Dogs

    It isn’t a little kid’s movie, but from tweens on up it should be fun. It’s especially a hoot if you are familiar, even vaguely, with Japanese culture: drumming, sumo wrestling, anime.

    To start you off, take note that the humans all speak Japanese, and the dogs all speak English.

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago

    Reading one book, two books oh my! A bibiliophile I am, I am. One is The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy and the other is: Hex, a Ruby Murphy mystery by Maggie Estep. The copyright for the latter is from 2003, but I like to read old stuff. For the former, as a person who has survived a lot of childhood as well as adult trauma, I have to continue to help myself through these types of insights. Stay safe!

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Thanx for asking David. I switch up but I always pair up a fiction with a non-fiction. For instance, one day or one week I’ll read some fiction with some Rumi(poet & philosopher) or a fiction with some American history etc. etc. However, every day or every other day, I study a dictionary workbook to keep my vocab. in check. And another thing, if a particular writer tickles my fancy, I read some or most everything that writer wrote. For instance last summer I read all of Kafka’s short stories and James Baldwin’s works; and Sue Monk Kid’s books: she… Read more »

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Lol David. Yes, I have a Webster’s on my phone too. Proud to be a a nerd! Heyyy!

    Wendy Taylor-Tanielian
    Wendy Taylor-Tanielian
    1 month ago

    Hello, Justine & David. So lovely to receive your email and mentally return to your little place in East Austin for a moment. We’re shuttered in safe & healthy in the East Bay of San Francisco. I hope you are as well in NY. I’m waking before everyone else to read for an hour – currently Anna Quindlen’s “Still Life with Bread Crumbs.” It was an on a whim grab during my last library trip before the shutdown, and it’s been a soft, soothing place for the mind in all of this. Kind of like mashed potatoes in written form… Read more »

    pam
    pam
    1 month ago

    harry potter is fun and easy reading

    John Liebling
    John Liebling
    1 month ago

    It is easier to social or physical distance in LA compared to NY. I have dumb-bells at home, do push-ups as well and take one hour walks 4-5 times a week. Early one if I come in contact with someone I would just exhale. Now I cross the street. I see very few people out and about. I found a good path this week. Almost all up hill the first twenty minutes, next twenty minutes mixed up and down, which means coming back home when my legs hurt the most, I go primarily down hill. David knows I am on… Read more »

    John Liebling
    John Liebling
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Not as much as I am sure you and Justine are, but more than I have done in the past. California is getting ready for a lot of rain this week…

    Jennifer Pommer
    Jennifer Pommer
    1 month ago

    Hi, I’m reading a few things, mostly online. The CDC and Virginia Gov have my daily attention as do some articles gleaned from facebook on staying healthy in this pandemic. Fiction-wise, I’m reading a novel that is an unfinished manuscript of Charlotte Bronte called “Emma Brown” by Clare Boylan. It takes place in the 1800s: a different time and place than now. Also, I’ve gotten re-interested in intuition and have been joining some Zoom workshops on intuition hosted by Laura Day, who has numerous books on it. They connect me to others (one workshop had over 500 participants) and help… Read more »

    Jennifer Pommer
    Jennifer Pommer
    1 month ago
    Reply to  David Duhr

    Thanks for asking! I wanted to finish reading the novel to give you a complete answer. I’m glad I did, as I read further along I noticed changes in the writing style. By the end, I noticed many major differences. Luckily, there was an afterword, which explained that Clare Boylan picked up the writing after the first two chapters (20 pages). Bronte had started writing it after her novel ‘Villette’ but before her marriage, and she had said to her husband that if she hadn’t got married she would be writing…. Bronte’s biographers showed the manuscript to Boylan who then… Read more »

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago

    As I do most mornings, I opened my Firefox page today to come across an interesting read on Dostoyevsky. It’s a long piece, but interesting to say the least (saved it to my library for a future thorough read). Here it is for those who want to mix it up a bit: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-day-dostoyevsky-discovered-the-meaning-of-life-in-a-dream?utm_source=pocket-newtab. Enjoy! As far as helping neighbors as everyone is shut in, I did manage to come across a friend who lives on an upper floor and offered her – in the wake of people scrambling to find toilet paper – a bunch of napkins as I thought… Read more »

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Torria Stevens

    My Firefox sent me the same thing! In addition I have gotten from Firefox via Brain Pickings (I must begin donating money to the brilliant author of this site) a story about how Tolstoy found meaning in life near the end of his life; also Tolstoy on writing for the wrong reasons; also excerpts from his Calendar of Wisdom; then I got Rilke on the transformative power of sadness (Rilke is my poet crush); and Rebecca Solnit on Hope. Prior to that I’d gotten the one I shared here, famous writers writing about music. So I am plugging Brain Pickings.org.… Read more »

    Torria Stevens
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Susan

    Thanx for your response Susan; sounds interesting this Brain Pickings.org site – gonna check it out! and sounds like your cousin acknowledges the importance of ‘presence’ indeed. Are you a writer aspiring writer? – it’s all the same – send me a little somethin’ somethin’ if you want. Stay safe. I’ve been sick all week.

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Torria Stevens

    It is all the same, or can be. One of my favorite poems is by Marge Piercy, For the Young Who Want To, and the one line I remember from that poem, having read it years ago, is “The real writer is the one who really writes.” Anyhow, I am not young, but I do really write. You’ve been sick all week? Hope it is not serious. I am safe so far but I work in a hospital I could send you somethin’somethin’. You wouldn’t want to put your email address here, but could I email David Duhr and ask… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn
    Elissa Malcohn
    1 month ago

    Polished off a quick read (under 100 pgs.) by Charles de Mertens, MD, An account of the plague which raged at Moscow, in 1771. Free download from Project Gutenberg at https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/49567. Found myself thinking, “The more things change…” and, “Those who refuse to learn from history…” etc. I view Dr. de Mertens as the Dr. Fauci of his day. For example: “The generality of mankind judge of things by events only; and will never believe that the plague is among them, until they have certain proof thereof in the number of funerals. It is owing to this and other mistaken… Read more »

    Susan
    Susan
    1 month ago
    Reply to  Elissa Malcohn

    Fascinating.

    Brigitte
    Brigitte
    1 month ago

    What am I reading? I decided to set myself up on Kindle Unlimited because now all the books are free to read! Well, maybe not all of them, But the selection of non-fiction books are enough to entertain me each evening. I was horrified when I read a TRUE story about Shelley Knotek and how plain EVIL she was and is. She is locked up but only for another two years. It was terribly sad for me to read this sort of stuff actually happens. But then by comparing myself to some of the monsters out there; I felt better… Read more »




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