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markk

markk

My April reading (with bonus coronavirus rant)

Yesterday my supervisor called, and we chatted about what lies ahead in the weeks and months to come. Among the nuggets of information he dispensed was that our college administrators might grant us access to our offices sometime next week. The proposal being mooted is that we will have access for one hour, during which time we are to grab everything we might need for the foreseeable future.

 

I can't stop marveling over the idiocy about this. First, they're citing as a complicating factor the need to "decontaminate" our buildings, which is on hold due to a lack of cleaning materials — only coronavirus can only survive on outside surfaces for about three days at most, so unless someone has been breaking in regularly to cough on our keyboards the buildings should be virus-free. People are far more likely to be infected by person-to-person contact, which is far more likely to occur if you have a couple of dozen people trying to access a building in the course of a single hour than if you were to grant them permission to do so for a longer period, such as half a day. Only a college administration could come up with a "low-risk" compromise that actually increases the risk of transmission.

 

Yet in spite of the risk I still plan on taking advantage of the opportunity, as I'm eager to regain access to my books. When I was last there I underestimated both the length of time that I would be locked out and the rate at which I would read the TBR books I grabbed when I was there. This time I'm going to be less discriminating in what I grab, especially as the last TBR book I have from there just isn't catching fire with me.

 

Still, I'm feeling keenly the lack of access to the broader resources available to me in my job. I'm especially missing my ability to request books through ILL, as my inability to do so is constraining my plans for my website. I have about a half-dozen books available now, and I could stretch out reviewing into late May. After that I face a choice as to whether to start buying them online (which could get expensive quickly) or go on a hiatus. If by the end of the month it looks as though our access will be restricted until June I'll probably go on a mini-buying binge. Beyond that will require some serious reconsideration.

 

All that being said, I have no shortage of reading awaiting me in the weeks to come. I have three books that I'll have to read sometime this month for reviewing, plus about  four or five for interviews. For some reason my upcoming podcasting load will be more heavily weighted towards literary biographies than usual, with books about Emily Dickinson, William Faulkner, and (hopefully!) William Wordsworth in my reading future. If anybody has an interest in reading the Dickinson and Faulkner biographies when I'm done, send me a message and I'll mail them to you once I'm through with them.

 

And finally it's National Poetry Month in the U.S. For the past few years I've gotten into the unfortunate habit of committing to read something in honor of it, yet I never follow through on this. This month I'm going to make more of an effort to follow through by avoiding that monster collection of Yeats I keep trying to tackle without success in favor of something more digestible.