Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Month In The Life: May 2020

And we're tentatively moving towards something that at least sort of resembles normalcy. It was just three months ago that my mom came out to visit for the weekend, and now the idea of traveling from Michigan to Nevada (or the other way around) feels almost reckless. But stores are starting to open up again with masks and social distancing, as are restaurants, though we're still sticking to takeout for now. Plans that I'd made for the future got canceled, and it remains to be seen where we are three months from now, much less next year. But we can only go forward, one day at a time, so on we go!

In Books...
  • Foundation: For all the books I read about British royalty, I figured I should get a firmer grounding in full extent of British history. This is the first in a five-book set and it was exactly what I was looking's oriented towards popular rather than scholarly consumption, so it's straightforward to read. It jams quite a bit into one book so it does feel like it's moving a little quickly at times.
  • Bird Box: I am a jumpy person, which means horror is a genre I'm not especially drawn to. This one had enough buzz that I gave it a try. I thought it was good, it was unnerving enough that I couldn't read it before bed if I wanted to fall asleep easily. The plot drew me in, but I found a climactic scene too be a little ridiculous and it didn't really stick with me after I finished it. 
  • The Son: In this stressful time, when I've sometimes had trouble focusing on my books, I thought maybe a plot-driven Nordic crime thriller would grab my attention. Another one might have, but this one did not. There were too many characters, and the plot was well-paced but often ludicrous. It wasn't god-awful, but it certainly wasn't good. 
  • The Weight of Silence: This is just...really bad. A multiple-perspective story about two little girls who go missing one morning in rural Iowa, it's supposed to be suspenseful but fails to ever generate any suspense. The narrative voices, ranging from a seven year-old child to an adult university professor, are essentially all the same and the domestic violence drama at the heart of the story does not at all come together.
  • The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: What an entertaining book! This story, about a woman who slowly becomes convinced that her handsome new neighbor is in fact a vampire, and who bands together with the other women of her book club in order to devise a plan to drive him away, is a delight. It deftly balances elements of comedy, drama, and real suspense and was completely charming. 
  • Howards End: I'd hated A Passage to India when I read it a few years back, so was a little reluctant to read another Forster book (even though I'd seen and liked the movie of this one). This is why I always give authors a second chance, though...I quite enjoyed this story of the entanglement of three families representing various aspects of the English class system. I particularly appreciated the richness of the characters and the bond between sisters Margaret and Helen. 
  • The Space Between Us: This was another book that had reviews highlighting strong relationships between women and deep engagement with issues of class, but woof. Just endless female suffering (to the point where it basically feels like trauma porn), a stale and predictable plot, stereotypical characters, and uninspired prose. It could not have left me colder.

In Life...
  • Back to work: I've been back in the office (on reduced in-person hours) for the past two weeks, and it's kind of strange getting back into a different routine. It was also quite jarring when I started working from home every day, but I got kind of used to it and now getting used to something else is an adjustment. I'm appreciating the flexibility to work from home as I'm not quite comfortable yet spending full days "at work".

One Thing:

As the reaction to George Floyd's murder at the hands of the police in Minneapolis continues to resonate, it seems (I hope) like we're ready to have a conversation about the fundamental injustices that people of color in the United States are forced to reckon with every single day. As a white person, it's my job to listen and amplify the voices of those with less privilege than I have, and be an ally to them in my own community even when the conversations are difficult. To that end, I recommend reading this piece about the ways in which the myth of the "perfect victim" allows those with power to stick their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the ways in which people of color find themselves trapped in a situation where there's no way to win.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

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