Quarantine Reads (aka What I’ve Been Reading in April)

I’ve been reading up a storm here in self-isolation. Part of it obviously is just having more time by myself at home. Instead of going out to a restaurant or a bar with friends, I curl up on my couch with my cat and a book every night. I’ve also been listening to audiobooks during my solo-runs, and I’ve been running more frequently since it’s the only exercise I can really do right now (the online classes are, sadly, not doing it for me). So here are the books I’ve read this month: 

SOURDOUGH by Robin Sloan, fiction

Everyone is baking sourdough bread these days. Meanwhile, I read a book about someone baking sourdough bread 😉 That someone here is Lois, a software engineer in San Francisco whose boring existence is transformed when she is given a quirky, magical sourdough starter. The book is very whimsical but unfortunately since I’m not a magical realism fan I lost interest in the story in the second half.

THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang, fiction 

UNCANNY VALLEY by Anna Wiener, memoir (audiobook/kindle)

I managed to get that book both on audio and for my kindle from the library at the same time, so I read a few chapters and listened to some others. Like Sourdough, this was a bit of an uneven book for me. In Uncanny Valley, first time author Anna Wiener retraces her experience leaving New York and her job as an assistant in the publishing industry to move to Silicon Valley and work in customer support and analytics for start-ups. The first half of the book is insightful and funny as she makes the transition. The second was a boring and repetitive collection of random observations about the author’s conflicted feeling about the tech industry and the place of women in it. It’s too bad. The first half was really good.

DOMINICANA by Angie Cruz, fiction

I’ve really enjoyed reading about the immigrant experience lately and this was a great one. It reminded me a little bit of a Woman is no Man, except a little happier. In Dominicana, Ana Cancion is a pretty 15 years old from the Dominican Republic who is married off to an older man so she can strive for a better life for her family. She is isolated, in a loveless marriage, in a city where she doesn’t speak the language and constantly reminded that she needs to send money home and help her family join her. But she definitely fares better than Isra. I devoured that book in less than 36 hours. 

SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid, fiction (audiobook)

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid’s debut novel, kicks off in an upscale Philadelphia grocery store where Emira, a 26 years old African American woman, gets accused of kidnapping the (white) child she is babysitting. The story goes back and forth between Emira and the woman she works for, Alix, a blogger-influencer currently writing her first book, to offer a witty but light-hearted commentary on race and class relations in America.  I really enjoyed this one.

WINE GIRL by Victoria James, memoir (audiobook) 
I didn’t love this one…. The author’s story had the potential to make this book another The Glass Castle or Educated but instead just feels like an enumeration of Victoria’s successes (I mean, she mentions that she was the youngest sommelier at a Michelin rated restaurant to overkill!) I guess I had a hard time connecting with Victoria though I did appreciate her openness about the difficulty of being a woman in a man dominated industry and her frankness about what goes on behind the scenes at some of New York’s fanciest restaurants.
 

THE ADDRESS BOOK: WHAT STREET ADDRESSES REVEAL ABOUT IDENTITY, RACE, WEALTH AND POWER by Deirdre Mask, non-fiction (audiobook)

Fascinating deep dive into what addresses  (or lack of one…) reveals about politics, race, class, and identity. I loved how each chapter focused on a different city (and yes, there were quite a few mentions of Paris bien sur!)

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman, fiction 

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned upside down when a boisterous young family moves in next door. A Man Called One came highly recommended by my friend Patty and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s such a sweet and heartwarming about the people who change your life and make it better and those that recognize your shortcomings but love you nonetheless.

Reading has been such a comfort and escape these days. I have so many books I’m excited to read in May. And let’s be honest, there’s not a ton to be excited about these days…. 

ps: did you know I have a #bookstagram account? I’d love to connect on Instagram, you can find me and my reads at Read and Rosé. << click to follow!

 

 

 

What I’ve Been Reading This Month (March)

It feel like March is almost two separate months. The first half was insanely busy for me. My biggest work conference of the year, Satellite, took place at the D.C. Convention Center March 9-12. Normally that week is hell and I barely have any time to myself. This year, well, it was a bit different. The week leading up to it was busier than it usually is, mostly because we had to make SO many last minute changes and adjustments to staffing, scheduling, everything. In the end, very few of my colleagues made the trip to D.C.  and our schedule was a skeleton of its usual self, the meetings were sparse, most evening events (including one I had been working on for months!) canceled. Which meant that week was actually not too busy in the end and the conference was even cut short once DC decided to shut down the convention center. That Friday, I went into the office since I hadn’t been all week, but also so I could call our IT department and make sure I was all set up for remotely should we need to. That feels like ages ago, and yet, it’s barely been two weeks! I had a book on hold at the library that I wanted to pick up, so I headed to the Tentleytown and saw the signs there that the library would be closed for the next two weeks. Perfect timing, I thought, and I allowed myself to stroll the aisles of books and pick up whatever caught my eyes.

Glad I did, because the library (and life!) isn’t reopening anytime soon and now I’ve got lots of books at home to keep me company. I’m also very grateful I have a kindle right now!! With our new normal of staying at home, I did read a lot of books the second half of the March, though actually mostly audiobooks that I listened to on my now always solo-runs.  Here’s a recap. 

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE by Ijeoma Oluo, non-fiction (audiobook)

This essay about race isn’t meant to be a feel good book! It’s made to make you think twice about little things you take for granted or that you think are not consequential, but do have a cumulative effect on a lot of people and contribute to the systemic racism that is prevalent in american society. I definitely encourage everyone to read (or listen to) this one!   

OVER THE TOP: A RAW JOURNEY TO SELF-LOVE by Jonathan Van Ness, memoir (audiobook) 

A very revealing and heartfelt memoir. I definitely think audiobook is the way to go on that one (on most memoirs really). I ended up listening to this one mostly when I was doing stuff around the house, like setting up my work from home space or cleaning up. Worth the months I waited before getting it from the library 😉 

MEN WE REAPED by Jesmyn Ward, memoir

Jesmyn Ward’s memoir alternates between recounting her childhood in rural Mississippi and the biographies of five young black men she intimately, one of them her own brother, and who all died within a five years span. The vignettes are plainly written, but beautiful and place personal tragedy against the backdrop of systemic racism and poverty in the South. Sing, Unburied, Sing is one of the hardcover books I borrowed from the library before it closed and I can’t wait to read that one as well. 

THE EDUCATION OF AN IDEALIST: A MEMOIR by Samantha Power, memoir (audiobook)

OK, so this book was almost 600 pages and, while it was really interesting, I was definitely ready to be done with it by like half of it. Which sadly was still before Samantha Power was appointed UN Ambassador by President Barrack Obama 😉 Nonetheless, I’m glad I read it. It was a very personal (Samantha talks candidly about her issues conceiving both of her children) and interesting (I mean, she was a woman war correspondent who debated turning down a Harvard law school acceptance…) memoir. Just a bit long… 

PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES by Jojo Moyes, fiction

I needed a lighter read to wrap up the month and Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One delivered. It’s a cute collection of vignettes (only one is actually about being in Paris alone, but it’s the longest and best one) and short stories and they all were delightful! 

So 5 books in March is not bad… I do expect to go through quite a few more in April. We’re still allowed to go outside for runs here in D.C. and since it’s practically the only sport we can do I’ve been taken advantage of that and I have been getting some good audiobook listening done during my solo runs. I expect that (hopefully) to continue in April. And I do have a lot more free time now in the evening as well 😉 

How have you been holding up during these first few weeks of staying at home? 

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