Whatcha Reading?

by Deborah Padgett

Yesterday I read a list of suggestions provided by a physician recovered from COVID-19 for staying healthy in this time. She suggested, among other things, gargling warm salt water, taking Melatonin, reducing caffeine, drinking lots of water, getting as much sun on bare skin as possible, getting plenty of sleep and, best of all, to my way of thinking, singing out loud!

She urged us to find ways to feel connected to others as well. I realize one of the best ways for me to feel that deep human connection is through reading books. Novels are my mainstay, but I’m finding plenty of time to be enriched by non-fiction too. Remember last month when I mentioned the fever of reading that has come upon me as I isolate in my home? The requirement that I stay home, rest and recover has me reading with a fervor I haven’t known in many years. I’ve been all over the country, many places in the world and in the future and the past in the many pages I’ve read. Here’s my list. People seem to be asking and I’m asking them in turn. What Are You Reading?

Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys.
Richard Russo, Chances Are.
Camille Aubrey, Cooking for Picasso.
Kazuo Ishiguro, An Artist of the Floating World.
Steve Rowley, The Editor.
MaryBeth Keane, Ask Again, Yes.
Elizabeth Strout, Olive, Again.
Reza Aslan, God, A Human History.
Ta-Nehesi Coates, The Water Dancer.

Tessa Hadley, The London Train.

Stephen King, Elevation.

Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour.

Margaret Atwood, Hag Seed (Atwood’s Tempest… brilliant).

Tommy Orange, There, There.

Louis Erdrich, The Night Watchman.

Tracy Chevalier, The Last Runaway.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah.

Matthew Stewart, Nature’s God.

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens.

Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel.

Maria Ganza, Optic Nerve.

Julia Phillips, The Disappearing Earth.

Louise Penny, The Long Way Home.

Anita Desai, Fasting, Feasting.

SubText Bookstore sent me a brilliantly colored and enticing update on how they can continue to provide me with books so I am in shopping/curbside pick-up mode. I continue my daily practice of reading a passage from Karen Casey’s The Promise of a New Day. Most important, though, because of the essential healing power of laughter, Michael and I read aloud at least one chapter a day from a favorite Dave Barry book.

I don’t mean to deceive you that I am happy as a little clam here, isolated from the larger world. I am, like you (I imagine) at times sunken in a place I can’t quite name as grief, depression or a palpable loss. It overwhelms me at times with the sense of a heavy weight. I’ve found in the practices of my day, in imagining the colors and lines of a new drawing, in the thoughts and words coming through the books I read and in singing and laughing aloud, a way to sometimes and for a moment, lift that weight.

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