COVID-19 Read?

Well, it’s been a minute. COVID-19 maybe has a lot of people spending more time on pursuits like reading, and I’ve wondered if it might not be a good time to spark up another online group read. Do people even use the internet for this sort of thing anymore? Is everything on Reddit and Discord now? Does literary discourse mostly happen in bite-sized dispatches on Twitter? I don’t know! I’ve had my head pretty much in the sand and done most of my reading in isolation since my last post here more than six years ago.

Granting for a moment that there might be people on the web who still look at sites like this and who would like to read a big book together, what book would be fun to do? Some potential candidates:

  • Jerusalem, by Alan Moore
  • Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellman
  • The Decameron, by Boccaccio (topical-ish)
  • Mason & Dixon or Against the Day by Pynchon
  • The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin (a bit of a departure from what we’ve done here previously)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
  • Cloud Atlas or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet, by David Mitchell
  • The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

I’ve read and own all of these, which I’ll confess is a motivating factor for starting the list with these. I’m definitely more interested in rereading some than others. Maybe there are others still that’d be fun to read along with people who’ve frequented this site in the past.

If you’re maybe game for reading something together over the next few months, drop a note in the comments. If you’d like to express a preference for a particular book (whether on the list above or not), please do — and if you’d be game to blog a book alongside me, please say as much and I’ll be in touch if we go forward and select a book you’re interested in writing about.

I’m just putting out feelers for now. This may not happen. But maybe, if enough people seem interested and we can settle on a book, it will.

10 thoughts on “COVID-19 Read?

  1. Joan Sberro April 6, 2020 / 7:04 pm

    Hi Daryl, I was just thinking of this group yesterday and here you pop up with a post! I just pulled The Pale King off of my bookshelf, and am considering diving into it. I was also thinking perhaps I wanted to re-read Infinite Jest or Moby Dick. I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to participate – I’ve become a small business owner since the last read and am also enrolled in a philosophy program. But I’m totally game to follow along should you decide to go ahead!

  2. Dennis Fleming April 6, 2020 / 8:30 pm

    OOO, something’s afoot. From my perspective I doubt that I could get copies of some of those book in time. What I have available:
    Mason Dixon (not read)
    Against the Day (not read)
    Cloud Atlas (read)
    Thousand Summers of Jacon deZoet (not read)
    Infinte Jest (not read)
    Moby Dick (read)

    Other possibilities:
    Salmon Rushdie Satanic Verses (not read) or Midnight’s Children (not read)
    J. Joyce Ulysses (read) or Portrait of an Artist (read)

    Whatever the case it’s good to see some activity. I spent a long time trying to find a group like this after the end of GR, but had no luck.

    • Daryl L. L. Houston April 8, 2020 / 1:51 pm

      Thanks, Dennis. Looks like you’ve got lots of things you could dip into to keep yourself occupied whether we pick one of ’em to do as a group read or not. We did Ulysses a few years ago, and at the time, I wasn’t sure I’d ever read it again. I probably will, but I’m not sure the time is right for me.

  3. Naptimewriting April 6, 2020 / 9:40 pm

    Would love to.

    I’m 20% into Ducks, Newburyport and would support making that a long term commitment to the group.

    I still haven’t read Pale King and would consider it an hour to start it with a infinite Zombies.

    Eldrich, Robinson, Adichie, Coates all seem compelling.

    • Naptimewriting April 6, 2020 / 9:42 pm

      Sigh. Autocorrect.

      Nothing Wallace wrote takes an hour.

    • Daryl L. L. Houston April 6, 2020 / 10:21 pm

      Ah, Adichie would be good. Half of a Yellow Sun is one of my very favorite books. My list is awfully white and male, I know. I’m not super keen to jump right back to Ducks, as I just read it a few weeks ago, but I’d be willing to if that’s where the wind takes us. It’s certainly a book that I think would reward a reread.

      Given that it might be hard for some folks to get books (I’m pretty content to wait a while to start, though), I also wonder about some public domain books. I’d be down for some Bleak House, for example.

  4. Jeff Anderson April 7, 2020 / 7:03 pm

    Hey, Daryl, what a treat to get the notification about this post! I was literally just two days ago looking back at some of our old group reads here—I’d love to join another one if it comes together.

    Honestly, just about any book you pick will be better than this godforsaken Vicar of Wakefield I’m trying to finish slogging through. (I found out that my local library has a classics book group! Some of the books have been pretty great, but it’s been a hot minute since I disliked a book as much as this one.) Adichie does sound pretty excellent, as does Jemisin. I don’t know the Broken Earth series yet, but the Inheritance Trilogy was awfully good stuff.

    And hi Christine!

    • Daryl L. L. Houston April 8, 2020 / 1:49 pm

      Hey, good to hear from you, Jeff. I felt sort of so-so on the Inheritance trilogy and much better about the Broken Earth series. Whether that means we just had different takes on the former or whether it means the latter will really knock your socks off I don’t know.

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