March 2020 Books

So…March was an interesting month. But I got a good bit of reading done, so let’s talk about covid-19 elsewhere and in this post I’ll focus on the books!

Save Me the Plums, by Ruth Reichl. This was a library book and I forgot to take a picture, alas!

I’ve read several of Reichl’s food memoirs and enjoyed them all. This one was specifically about her time working at food magazine Gourmet. Her descriptions of food are mouth-watering, and her writing deceptively simple.

★ ★ ★ ★

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman.

This is the first book in a YA trilogy about a perfect world where humans don’t die and don’t have to really feel pain. A benevolent AI, the Thunderhead, controls most of life’s logistics, and humans get to live their lives any way they want. When they start getting old, they reset down to a younger age and keep living.

This means that overpopulation could be a real problem, so there are some people, called Scythes, specially selected to winnow the population (see what I did there?) by “gleaning” people aka killing them.

Our two protagonists, Citra and Rowan, are selected for Scythe training, and they find that not everything is as perfect as it seems….

A light dystopian book with fascinating world building and interesting characters.

★ ★ ★ ★

The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis.

Ben told me that I only had myself to blame, but reading this while finding out that the world is currently dealing with a global pandemic was truly bad timing. Please save this book for happier times, as it’s a bit of a downer.

In this book, Oxford historians study history by time traveling back and experiencing what it was really like. Kivrin, an aspiring young historian, is sent back to 1320 and she promptly becomes ill with influenza. Back in the future, the team that sent her also experiences a flu epidemic, and Oxford is quarantined so they have trouble bringing her back….

Of the two storylines, I enjoyed the medieval one more, as Kivrin explored the time period and got to know a family and their way of life. The 2055 timeline was mostly Kivrin’s mentor obsessing about getting her back while also dealing with the deteriorating situation.

This book was interesting, but there was a lot of death, right at the time a global pandemic was unfolding in real life, so….

★ ★ ★

Thunderhead, by Neal Shusterman.

This is the second book in the Scythe trilogy. As usual in a second book, the situation unravels, new characters are introduced, and the world becomes bleaker! Yay!

Still interesting, and I enjoyed some of the new characters introduced, but a second book is tough to review without spoilers and without the (hopefully–I haven’t finished yet) resolution of the third book.

★ ★ ★

The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. This was for my 50 Classics project, so it gets its own fancy review.

The style is Charles Dickens but a light mystery! …and yes, I know there are elements of mystery in some of Dickens’ novels. Let’s not get hung up on that here.

★ ★ ★ ★

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