Hello! It’s been a weird two weeks; I ended up taking a break from reading and blogging that I hadn’t really been intending but nevertheless found very helpful. For those waiting on an update, sorry for the delay and thanks for being patient with me; my family members are all doing pretty well and I am feeling much better. I am being kinder to myself though about letting things take the amount of time I need for them rather than trying to push through to keep to a schedule, so my presence here may still be somewhat sporadic for the next few weeks as I (hopefully) continue to improve.
But on the plus side, after struggling for a few weeks with my second bout of Covid in March and into April, I think this turn of events has actually helped clear out some of the lingering symptoms I’ve been unable to shake for the last year. I am feeling physically better this week than I have felt since pre-pandemic days, have gotten back into reading and writing, and have been taking long walks and appreciating my health. The good thing about having felt slightly under the weather for a long time is that on my best days now I feel absolutely gleeful about just feeling “normal;” I don’t think I’ll ever again take for granted just waking up and feeling like myself. Even though my fatigue and brain fog have been mild compared to most accounts of them that I’ve seen, I just haven’t felt fully present since I had Covid last spring, and getting a more complete recovery this time is pretty exciting in the wake of all that. Also exciting- this past week my state finally made me eligible for the vaccine! I called the first day the call center was open, and even though it took seven tries to get through I did in the end get an appointment for both doses, the first of which will be coming up this week. Yay! Unfortunately my family seems to have taken their recent illness as further reason not to get vaccinated, but I’m trying to make peace with the fact that there’s only so much I can do.
Since I missed last week’s update in order to rest and recharge and care for my family, I have two weeks of photos to share today from The 365. I’m so grateful that the weather is finally nice enough to be spending time outdoors, so most of these photos are from walks I’ve taken since my last post. Sorry they’re so gray, but even though it has been warmer out my walks seem have doubled as a game of chicken with perpetual rain clouds. Luckily, I only got wet once, and it was a drizzle rather than a soak.
In addition, two weeks means two Cats of the Week. First up is Shrill (first cat photo, closed eyes) who is two years old and aptly named for his voice, his one fault. Otherwise, he’s such a dainty snuggly boi and will sample every available lap to find the best sleeping spot. It is an honor to be chosen. Next (second cat photo, eyes open) is Robin, ten months old and named after Batman’s Robin because he’s such a little sidekick. Whatever you’re doing, he’ll be right there to “help.” (This is sounding uncharitable toward the original character, but cat Robin definitely has a knack for getting his nose in the way.)
In my absence last week I also missed sharing my March reading stats, so I’ll add a few here. I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear that March was a low point for me reading-wise. According to Storygraph, I read nearly 2,000 pages, but actually I keep my own record of pages read day to day and my bullet journal shows closer to 1,200 pages for March. The difference, I think, is A Court of Silver Flames, which I read the bulk of at the end of February but finished in early March, so Storygraph counted those 700+ pages toward March even though I didn’t. Interesting to note, I think, but I’m sure by the end of the year those month-to-month fluctuations should even out. Now that I’m doing weekly reading updates instead of monthly wrap-ups, I no longer feel like I have to finish whatever I’m reading on the last day of the month and start a new book on the 1st to keep things neat, but I do always start as fresh as possible on Jan 1st.
And honestly, maybe I would’ve read more throughout March if, while ill, I hadn’t been trudging through such *checks notes* dark, mysterious, challenging, and emotional reads. Lol.
It was necessary to make one particular adjustment to my reading in March, though: no nonfiction. I started one but just didn’t have the brain power to keep it up.
Unfortunately, my ratings took a hit last month, as well. While I only actively disliked one of the books I read, I had no 5-star reads and struggled with a couple of books that definitely suffered for how unusually long it took me to finish them. And while I would say a 3-star rating is still good, it’s not… inspiring. It’s not a rating I tend to aim for, and thus always feels slightly disappointing even if I would still recommend those books to the right reader, so seeing 2 and 3s make up more than half of my reading shows a lack of excitement for me, even if most of my reading wasn’t particularly “bad.”
Here’s what I finished reading in March:
- A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – 2 stars.
- The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, translated by Diane Oatley – 3 stars.
- Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – 4 stars.
- The Butchers’ Blessing by Ruth Gilligan – 4 stars. (review pending)
- Luster by Raven Leilani – 3 stars. (review pending)
April has also been off to a slow start for reading but I am picking up speed and gaining optimism. I’m behind on my reading goal for the year, but not too concerned about it at this point. I’m more frustrated that the shortlist date for the Women’s Prize is fast approaching (April 28th) and I’m lagging behind in reading and reviews for that, but it is what it is.
Here’s how my April reading has been going so far:
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan – 4 stars. I really liked this Women’s Prize longlister. Dolan’s prose is incredible, the messy MC shockingly relatable, and the complex three-way relationship tense and fun. Full thoughts coming soon (hopefully), but I’ll say for now that the book is divided into three sections, one of which worked much better for me than the others, my only real complaint here.
- Made in China by Amelia Pang – ongoing. I’m mentioning this nonfiction read about forced labor in China related to US’s imported goods just to keep it on the record, even though I’ve hardly touched it in the last two weeks. I am looking forward to getting back to this soon.
- Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – ongoing. Another Women’s Prize longlist read, though I’m less enthusiastic about this one. I’m about halfway through and so far it’s just… fine? I’m discovering that stories set in the 50s just do not really work for me. It was a bad time for women. The plot is slow-going in this one but in its favor it’s undeniably easy to read, which is what I needed this week.
As for posts, I haven’t shared a review in weeks and can’t guarantee exactly when they’ll start cropping up again. I have been working on my Luster review and have notes started for my other pending reviews because I forget things too quickly not to jot down some immediate starting points. Hopefully I’ll get something finished this week and fall back into the groove of it. I am also very behind in blog hopping, and I feel bad posting new stuff without looking at anyone else’s so that’s a priority as I catch back up here.
That’s all for me for now, I think. Drop your current Women’s Prize thoughts below if you’ve been reading any of the longlisted titles- I am eager to jump back in and see where everyone’s at!
The Literary Elephant