Sunday, March 15, 2020

So More Reading Time Means Less Reading?

I'm about 200 pages into Station Eleven, the 2014 dystopian novel by Emily St. John Mandel that focuses on a worldwide pandemic that kills off most of the human population in about 48 hours. 

This is probably not the wisest reading choice right now considering our own situation, but it is getting harder and harder for me to put this one down because it is so beautifully constructed. At first, it's a little hard to keep up with the key characters, and the way that the story intersperses  flashbacks with present-day activity, but once you start to understand how the characters relate to each other (even if they don't always know it), it all gets pretty intense. 

I can't see this one having a particularly happy ending, though, so here's hoping we do a good bit better for ourselves in the real world. 

As a change of pace, I'm also reading The Blues Don't Care by Paul D. Marks, a novel set in WWII era Los Angeles. This one's kind of a light mystery (although the murder victim does appear to have been hanged) centered around a young white musician who is trying really hard to catch on with a popular (otherwise) all black jazz band. The whole vibe of this one reminds me of those 1940s black and white movies starring the tough-guy actors of the day. It's fun.

And then there's The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri about a family of refugees from the Syrian civil war that makes its way to England. It's another gloomy book that I probably don't need to be reading at the moment, but it is very well written - and the audiobook is so well read by the narrator that I'm really enjoying it (although I do feel a little bad about using the word "enjoy" in this context).

All of this "social distancing" stuff is already starting to get on my nerves even though I know it's the best way to protect someone my age from becoming a health department statistic by the time this is finally all over with. Surprisingly, even with all the extra hours available for reading and blogging, I find myself accomplishing less than I was prior to the Coronavirus finally being taken seriously. For whatever reason, it's harder for me to concentrate right now. I haven't finished a book in almost a week now, and I'm at least two days away from finishing one. That's something that almost never happens to me.

And speaking of "social distancing"...went to the grocery store this morning to pick up some dairy products, breakfast cereal, and a couple of other items. I wasn't interested in picking up water or any of the worth-its-weight-in-gold toilet tissue at all, but I decided to cut across the aisle that normally has toilet tissue in order to make my way out of the grocery section and into the pharmacy area. Well, there was one four-pack of toilet tissue still on the shelf, and as I approached approached it, not even slowing down to give it a second look, a thirty-something woman crashed head-on into my cart so that she could grab the four-pack before I could (she thought) go for it. I looked at her as if she were crazy, I suppose, but she didn't bat an eye. Just tossed the stuff into her cart and ran off at a near-trot, never acknowledging me or the crash we had just had. I swear that some people have LITERALLY lost their minds over this whole virus thing.

So maybe, a little social distancing will turn out to be a blessing. My right forearm has been throbbing ever since the cart-crash, and I'm pretty sure that the pain is going to be with me for a while. Better to socially distance myself than to turn into one of the nuts out there.

So how's your week going?

10 comments:

  1. Station Eleven was a good one. I also have The Beekeeper of Aleppo, but, I haven't read it yet.

    We've been staying home reading, listening to audio books, watching movies and going for walks. Stay Safe Sam.

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    1. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is really good (at least so far), Diane. It's terribly sad, in a more tragic way even than Station Eleven, and some of the images are really brutal and hard to take. It should open some eyes about what modern civil wars, or religious wars, are like for the people caught in the middle of them.

      I keep expecting that the "panic" part of all this will be over soon, as soon as people finally run out of storage space and/or money. Maybe then things will stay on the shelves for more than a few minutes.

      We are watching a lot of Netflix and Prime stuff, but my library gives me access to Kanopy movies, too, and those are every bit as good as the pay services - maybe even better because most of them seem to have been made for actual adults for a change.

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  2. I really do think some people are insane about this. I shop at a Co-op, and one of the cashiers said that someone told her it was a haven during this time. It is a lovely store. We are in an area of a lot of old hippies and young hipsters, and I think it creates a good vibe, you might say. I put a picture of the food I bought on my instagram saying I was putting my hope into good food to keep sickness away.

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    1. I envy your atmosphere, Nan, no doubt about it. Especially after being rammed by an out-of-control shopper on Sunday morning who left me with a severely sprained right forearm. All because she thought I was heading to the last 4-pack of bathroom tissue on the shelf I was passing by.

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  3. While I don't feel personally fearful (in spite of my age), I worry about the changes this country and the world will continue to go through as a result of the pandemic. Such a lot of dominoes are yet to fall, and it already feels like a strange new world.

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    1. The scariest thing to me about all of this is how quickly things can change. Every day brings us to a point I couldn't have imagined even a few days earlier.

      I'm not much worried about myself either, but my wife has chronic breathing problems that would make it very dangerous for her to catch the virus. Plus she is allergic to almost every antibiotic known to man, so even if they come up with a new one to treat this particular pneumonia, it probably wouldn't help her.

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  4. I've been feeling so unsettled with everything lately I've been finding it hard to do much of anything. Including reading. It's all so crazy right now. And it changes so fast from day to day. I have to keep reminding myself to breathe and not freak out. This too shall pass. :)

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    1. That's exactly how I feel, Lark. Things are changing so rapidly that I'm always listening with at least half an ear at what is being said on the news about how things are so rapidly going downhill. I've never found it harder to concentrate than I am right now.

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  5. People really are losing their freaking minds, aren't they? I always pick up a pack of t.p. when I'm at Costco, whether we're out or not, and now I'm really, REALLY glad for that habit. I bet I could finance all four of my kids' college educations if I sold it on the black market :) Just kidding.

    I've been reading so much during this apocalypse that my eyes are starting to hurt. I might have to alternate print/ebooks with audio just to give my peepers a break. How are yours doing, by the way?

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    1. I really expected that the grocery stores would be closer to normal by now than they are. I went out yesterday hoping to find a few things we are completely out of, and I was amazed at the bare shelves and the big crowds. Not a good combination, that. Maybe it will calm a bit after the weekend and some people go back to work. I'm not really sure what percentage of Houston workers is still on the job, but we had a three-hour power outage last night and I'm grateful for the electric company workers who are still on the job.

      I'm drinking way too much coffee during right now and that's probably causing the headaches I've been having. My eyes are great, thanks for asking, but I've found that reading glasses still help a lot. Other than that, my eye doc tells me I'm still 20-20 at all other distances.

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