Monday, March 30, 2020

A Month In The Life: March 2020

What a month. The world is a very different place than it was just 31 days ago, and it remains to be seen how this all shakes out. My husband and I are fortunate enough that both of our jobs are secure and able to performed remotely, at least in the short term. But it's hard to be on the other side of the country from my family, which includes my nurse sister, my pharmacist mother, and my immunocompromised father. We're all in this together, though, and I hope those of you reading this are safe and healthy.

In Books...
  • Brother of the More Famous Jack: This coming-of-age classic which fell out of print only to be revived by zealous fans is a very slow starter, and I had a hard time initially connecting with protagonist Katherine. But it picks up momentum as it goes, and the writing is just lovely, and I wound up quite enjoying it.
  • We Are Our Brains: I'm a sucker for books about neurology, so thought this would be right up my alley. It's broad in scope and there's some interesting stuff here, but I found myself put off by the righteous tone and the way Swaab kept referencing reactions to his own well as the lack of citations in a book that's supposed to be based on science. 
  • 'Til the Well Runs Dry: This book was the kind of multi-generational saga I tend to find very compelling, following the lives of a Trinidadian family. It's engaging and well-paced, though the adult characters remain underdeveloped. Where it really stumbles is in its constant parade of tragedy: there's incest, sexual violence, police corruption, underage prostitution, human trafficking, and even just got kind of exhausting to read.
  • Lost Children Archive: I started reading this book right as the coronavirus situation really started to escalate quickly here in the United States and turned out to be poor timing. The writing is beautiful and rich, but my attention span was just not where it needed to be to really engage with it. There were some style and technique choices I found grating, not to mention I really did not enjoy the perspective shift that happens late in the book, so this just didn't end up working for me.
  • The Magical Language of Others: That E.J. Koh is a poet by trade is not surprising, reading her prose. Her writing is elegant, restrained, evocative. But in this memoir, based on her experience as a teenager having her parents move to the other side of the world, leaving her in the care of her older brother, there's a little too much polish. She holds the reader at a remove, which made it hard to connect with the book.
  • White Teeth: This book takes on a lot of weighty subjects, like family, religion, colonialism, and race, but never feels heavy. That it was a debut (published when Zadie Smith was just 25!) makes this all the more impressive. Not everything really develops or is executed as well as it could be, but she draws vivid characters and paces her slightly overstuffed plot well, which makes this an engaging read.

In Life...
  • Social distancing: Like everyone else, I've been staying home and social distancing. As a natural extrovert, I've been going a little bit bonkers. I miss going into the office, I miss my friends. It's the right thing to do and things will be better in the long run for all of us if we stay home, but I am ready to get back to something approaching normal when we can!
One Thing:

My husband loves video games, but I have the hand/eye coordination of a below-average four year-old, so I play them very infrequently. That is, until Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out. It's laid back and requires just enough attention to distract me from everything while not being at all mentally taxing, which is exactly the kind of entertainment I'm looking for right now. I'm hooked!

Gratuitous Pug Picture:


  1. I’m glad you’re able to keep working, and I hope your family stays safe. I’m an introvert, so staying in the house hasn’t been too hard for me. Have a good April!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I have some introvert tendencies, so the first week or so wasn't too bad, but the longer it goes on the more desperate I am for interaction! Hope you and your family stay safe as well!

  2. Animal Crossing continues to be the perfect game for these strange times. I've continued to play for a slightly absurd number of hours. (There are always more resources to gather and more things to craft...)

    Hope everything is well for you and your family! My mom still works outside the home (she's a payroll assistant at a food manufacturing company/industry that's still considered "essential"), which makes me worry some, though it isn't customer-facing and the California Bay Area is otherwise pretty fully shut down so I think it should be reasonably safe.

    1. Animal Crossing really is helping me keep my stress level down, which feels silly but if it's working I'm not going to worry about it. My family is all safe for now (my mom was actually tested because she had a bad cough last month but it turned out to just be a bad chest cold). It sounds like California, and the Bay Area in particular is doing the right things, so I hope she stays safe as well!