Not Quite a Plague Diary: August 2, 2020

Books / Lists / Plague Diaries

Good morning friends. Over the last few days, several people have asked what I was reading to get through these weird times. And my honest answer is too many books. In general, I read 2-3 books at a time, which is not recommended, but 100% how my brain is wired unless I’m on vacation. I haven’t necessarily been reading for escape (note that I finished The Power Broker last weekend, which mostly just made me terrified and furious). But reading books keeps me from doing what the NYT calls “doom scrolling,” which is to say, just reading an endless catalog of bad news as updated over and over throughout the day. So I just finished Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey (dreamy, and on the nightstand for months) and started both Anna Burns’ Little Constructions and John Rechy’s City of Night (which I’ve somehow managed not to read yet) over the last 24.

Here’s the current nightstand, subject to change/addition, but in rough syllabus order:

Sweet Days of Discipline—Fleur Jaeggy

The Bluest Eye—Toni Morrison*

Death In her Hands—Ottessa Moshfegh

Vernon Subutex #1—Virginie Despentes

Kristen Lavransdatter—Sigrid Undset

Among Strange Victims—Daniel SaldanaParis

Stamped From the Beginning-Ibram X. Kendi

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas—Machado De Assis

Honeymoon—Patrick Modiano

I Hotel—Karen Tei Yamashita

Walking With The Wind—John Lewis

Insurrecto—Gina Apostol

Giovanni’s Room—James Baldwin*

Fraud—Anita Bruckner

Three Women—Lisa Taddeo

The Frolic of the Beasts—Yukio Mishima

The House of Government—Yuri Slezkine

Dear Life—Alice Munro

A Paradise Built in Hell—Rebecca Solnit

The Summer Before the Dark—Doris Lessing*Planned re-reads

New Books Coming Out that May Bump Titles:

Summer- Ali Smith

The Last Great Road Bum-Hector Tobar

The Bass Rock–Evie Wyld

Red Pill–Hari Kunzru

Caste: Origins of Our Discontents–Isabel Wilkerson

Sisters–Daisy Johnson

Jack–Marilynne Robinson

Luster–Raven Leilani

The Searcher–Tana French (I’m a sucker for these. They’re like candy)

So there’s your answer. Absolutely up to discuss any of these as I get to them. No guarantees on when, exactly. Oh, and if you need something that is actually wonderful and will not make you want to burrow down into a pit of despair, let me once again recommend the absolutely stellar, hilarious and moving “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride, which is currently vying for the top slot on my “Favorite Book of the Year” list. And remember: you can always enjoy a beach read even if the beaches are evacuated because of hurricane and you’re terrified of being around that many people because you might die of plague. Just don’t drop your book in the baby poolHappy Sunday. Picture is of said baby pool. As of this writing, 11, 406, 767 people have recovered from Covid-19.

The Author

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