April felt like a long month. It was the last month in an online certificate program I had been taking since last September. It was a good three-course program and I enjoyed the content, but I’m also glad it’s now done! More time to read I hope!
One surprise of the month is that I picked back up a long dormant in-progress book – Tony Judt’s Postwar, which is about Europe after World War II. Postwar is definitely macro-history, focusing on large-scale trends of political and cultural change and tracking the different countries’ variations on those trends. And I’m not used to reading history of that kind. I think my recent reading of Slavenka Drakulic’s How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed helped me find my way back into Judt’s book. I’m able to connect Postwar to other books and films that I know – a lightbulb comes on, things click into place as I get this greater context. Though there are limits to the metaphor, at times framing post-war Europe as a family epic in my mind has also helped me engage with the book. I am not faulting Judt’s writing – I’m just not used to reading history this broad in scope. Here’s hoping I can keep some steady momentum on this book (it’s 933 pages).
I finished Seanan McGuire’s first October Daye novel, Rosemary and Rue. It’s been a while since I’ve dug into an urban fantasy series and I liked this one. I’ve already picked up the second book from my public library.
Some discussions on Twitter made me more aware of the inequality facing romance authors who are women of color. Over the years, several members of the book blogging community have impressed upon me the importance of intentionally seeking out a diverse range of authors. As a result of the Twitter discussion, I discovered several new-to-me authors that I will try. One was Synithia Williams and I picked up her contemporary romance, Full Court Seduction. Though sports romances are not typically my catnip (one character, Jacobe, is a professional basketball player), I was thrilled that the main character Danielle was an environmental activist and worked for a conservation non-profit. I was delighted in all the details about Danielle’s work and would even get annoyed if I thought that Jacobe was being a distraction to Danielle’s professional life. I think I liked her job stuff more than the romance itself, lol, though the romance was fine. I liked the book’s Floridian setting as well.
The other romance novel I read in April was Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her, spurred by some comments I saw on Reading the End’s blog post on romance in April. I found the dynamic between her two main characters, Evan and Ruth, to be refreshingly different from other romances I’ve read. Evan is kind and Ruth is prickly and it makes wonderful sparks. Ruth is on the autism spectrum and it is not treated as an “issue” but rather just as another way to be in the world. There was some good angst there, all earned, and I just really enjoyed seeing the way the two of them got to know and fall for each other. It’s a “new neighbor” plot, which I think I also have a fondness for. I look forward to the next book in the series, which I believe will be about Ruth’s sister.
I finished Rachel Pearson’s excellent book No Apparent Distress, her memoir about being a medical student. I had heard about this book from Library Journal’s Best Book round-up from last year. A Texas native, Pearson went to medical school at University of Texas’ Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston and worked at St. Vincent’s student-run free clinic whose patients were often impoverished. She shares many stories from that experience, and from her other experiences – medical care for prisoners, in a remote border town, in an abortion clinic, in a plastic surgery clinic, and her own family’s medical stories. She writes well about the complex ethical aspects of her profession, as seen from her student’s point of view.
Near the start of the book, Pearson describes how, after Hurricane Ike in 2008, UTMB cut off its charity care to cancer patients without notifying the physician in charge of their care. That doctor learned of the cuts from her bewildered patients. The doctor did her best to track down all her patients who had been scattered by the hurricane but without that funding and without other options, this doctor knew most of these patients were now facing death. As I read this book, and this chapter, in particular, I kept hearing Idaho Congressional Representative Raul Labrador’s ludicrous statement to upset constituents at a televised town hall last year: “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Pearson’s book has so many stories of people in peril due to lack of health care access.
Besides Postwar, my other in-progress books are:
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – for book club
The Power by Naomi Alderman – so far, really liking it. Finding it almost cathartic to read.
Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges – this graphic novel/memoir was a random pick from my library’s new books area and it’s been an unexpected pleasure
I have so many options for other books to pick up that I don’t know for sure what’s next after these – though I know that Robyn Davidson’s Tracks will be a near future read, as it’s something my cousin Phil and I chose to read and discuss together later.