What I read at the Cottage, 2020 COVID edition

September 23rd, 2020Posted by Nancy

Drama Queen Sky

The annual two weeks up north was the usual balm for the soul, despite rainy weather the first week.

I went swimming twice (given that the second time was on September 15th, I thought that was pretty good. It was … not warm). I did my one annual ride on the rail trail. I got in some long walks and finally finished the fourth Adventure Zone arc. Yes, I am years behind on that.

I ate fewer cookies than usual, in an attempt to shed those extra few COVID pounds. I did lamentably little writing.

I did manage to read or reread a number of books, though I didn’t set any records.


Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air. Diana Wynne Jones. Motivated by watching the Studio Ghibli animated version on Netflix. Howl is one of my favourite comfort reads.

Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward. Patricia Wrede. Regency magic and romance for a rainy Sunday when you’ve had two hours of sleep.

Assorted bits of the Foreigner series. C.J. Cherryh. Having read them all, I could skip all the plot and worldbuilding explanations and just enjoy the cultural grace notes and dialogue.

New reads:

Wakenhurst. Michelle Paver. The fens, medieval devils, madness, a manor house all add up to fine English gothic.

Dreaming of You. Lisa Kleypas. Romance. And yes, I skipped the sex scenes.

Famous Father Girl, Jamie Bernstein. We’d seen her speak at a concert celebrating her father’s music so I wanted to read her autobiography. I always thought of the Bernstein era as being before the years of cocaine and wild parties and sex and much too much alcohol. It definitely was not. A fascinating look at her family and finding her own way to be part of a musical legacy.

Before Mars. Emma Newman. Solid science-fiction/mystery/thriller.

The Monsters We Deserve. Marcus Sedgwick. Another of those books that showed up long after I’d forgotten what it was about. Turns out it was a beautifully rewritten short novel about the complicated legacy of Mary Shelley’s famous creation in our imagination.

Desert Notebooks. Ben Erhenreich. Right in my sweet spot. Vivid evocation of landscape and nature. Interesting thoughts about time and culture and philosophy. Ideas you want to talk about over dinner.

Dread Nation. Justina Ireland. The dead rise from the battlefield of Gettysburg – putting a swift end of the civil war. But someone has to keep the shambler hordes at bay – and who better to send to do the dirty work than the inconvenient African American and native populations. This one was lots of fun.

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