Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Reads

In March, when our quarantine began, I found it hard to read. Every time I sat still, I felt guilty. Surely there as some kind of preparation I could be making to shelter my family against the coming storm. There must be someone in need I could be supporting. Restless energy made it difficult to lose myself in story, but eventually, I returned to my roots as a reader and picked up short, escapist works.

I continued that theme in April and it's working for me.

I began with a few light romances. K Leigh and Ashley Cade are authors I befriended on Instagram. It was a great escape to lose myself with characters in danger of having their hearts broken instead of worrying about paying their bills or avoiding illness.

Something That Could Last is a world's collide kind of story, about a young man and woman from very different backgrounds finding ones another. Four Day Prince Charming is an older woman-younger man romance with a save-the-world theme I really loved. One Week Queen is a hate-into-love story with dogs! (He's a veterinarian). All three were short, sweet, and distracting. Just exactly what I needed and wanted.

That's not to say that everything I read was short. I also read The Annotated Alice and Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. I confess though that I wouldn't have read either of those this month were it not that I had committed to do so for my First Monday Classics Book Club, which I help run for my local library.

You might think the giddy silly attitude of Alice in Wonderland would have been perfect escapism, but it didn't jibe with my mood at all. Then again, I've never been that fond of Alice. There's not enough story to her story, and the humor is so self-congratulatory in its cleverness that it doesn't make me laugh. Not my cup of tea, with or without dormouse.

In contrast, An American Tragedy worked pretty well for me. While the story certainly goes dark  enough to earn its dire title, the story is not relentlessly sad. In fact, the ending is all the more effective because so much of the book is about hope and ambition and striving for something more. Even though I feel the book is flawed, I can see how it has earned its place in the canon of great works, and I'm glad I finally read it.

I can't entirely say I *enjoyed* Dreiser's classic tome, but I did stay engaged with it, and I'm still thinking about it several days after finishing reading it, trying to decide exactly how I feel about it. I even sought out the 1950s movie adaptation, A Place in the Sun.

I don't think I would have stuck with it if I were reading it in paper or on Kindle though. I listened to it as an audiobook over the course of six weeks, in 10-20 minute increments while I cooked or took care of household tasks. It wasn't the kind of book wanted to sit down and devour.

For both these longer works, I was happy to get off screen. Now that I'm teaching from home, I feel like I'm on screen time 20 of every 24 hours--for the day job, for fun, and for writing. I was glad to read Alice on paper and Dreiser by listening.

That might be why my next five reads were all short and why I read them in paper editions.

Dreadful Penny and Unsettled Spirits by J. Matthew Saunders, and two graphic novels: The Sixth Gun: Book 1: Cold Dead Fingers and The Sixth Gun: Book 2: The Crossroads by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Bill Crabree.

Interestingly, these also all came to me via family members. My sister lent me Dreadful Penny and Unsettled Spirits, having purchased it at a convention sometime last year where Matthew and I were both convention guests, as well as sharing Raven. My husband suggested The Sixth Gun series.

All were violent, but non-realistic, with magical elements and interesting heroes. I read all of them sitting on a swing in my yard, in the sunshine, too. Quite a contrast to the content. (I must have really liked The Sixth Gun, because I immediately ordered Book 3. Looking forward to reading it when it arrives!)

I finish the month in the middle of three more books, but I'll tell you about them in May. I'm about 1/3 of the way through Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea on audio book, 3/4 of the way through Bill Blume's Gidion's Hunt on paper, and just started The Reckoning: A Time Travel Thriller by DM Taylor on Kindle.

How is your reading life going?

Did you read my latest yet? Friend or Foe came out in late March. It picks up literally moments after the end of Going Through the Change: Book One in the series (book one is on 99¢ sale, too, BTW).  It's a novella, available in digital or paper formats, so you can choose your poison.

I'm also excited to announce that you can get the next in the series on May 7, 2020!  The Good Will Tour fits in the Menopausal Superhero universe right after book 3, Face the Change, but can be enjoyed as. stand alone story as well.


  1. I truly admire your ability to read for pleasure in the time of Covid-19. My reading life isn't going so well. I'm currently on the tail end of a fantasy novel, and it's schlock. I read it at bedtime, and I get through about ten pages before I fall asleep. I don't know why I'm continuing to read it. It must be some kind of literary masochism.

    1. That's why I went to graphic novels and other short works. My focus time is shorter, for sure.

  2. Hi Samantha, I can resonate so completely with your tale. I also found it difficult to read for quite awhile. I found it difficult to relax and allow myself the peace and time flow that were actually afforded by this stay-at-home story - especially before I started helping with the schoolwork of my grandchildren as both parents are working full time from at home. Then there was the issue of short quick reads for escapism which I also decided was my best bet. Our local library allowed us t select 3 books which they mailed to us in manila envelopes , allowing us to hold them till the library was open again. But I used those up getting books 5, 6, and 7 of the Harry Potter series because that's what my granddaughter and I are reading together for her school reading - (fourth grade). As a result, I decided to through the reading to the winds and go to tiny libraries in my area, and just read whatever quick fun escapist bookis I found there - fantasy and fiction for the most part - I have also been dropping off books to keep it fair - well, as a result I have had a hilarious selection of old and new reading and I've also relaxed into a groove of reading without feeling guilty! Thanks for your great sharing. I so enjoy reading your intimate personal sharing all the time!!

    1. That's a great way to find some unusual reads! You never know what will be a tiny free library :-)