Pandemic Summer Reading

Pandemic summer 2020 reading challenge

Since I have posted a summer reading challenge (with a health humanities/social justice focus) beginning in 2015, I continue the tradition this year. Please support your local independent bookstores because we need them to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. I miss being able to visit in person my favorite local indie Elliott Bay Book Company.

Thirteen books, left to right in the photograph above.

1-3. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam. Because Atwood can teach us so much through her writing.

4-6. N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Sky, and the Stone Sky. Because I am sadly remiss in reading this important sci-fi trilogy.

7. Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. Because I have never read this bawdy classic of imagined tales by friends escaping the Black Death of 1348 in Florence, Italy.

8. Barbara Ehrenreich’s Had I Known new collection of essays spanning her four decades of journalism. Because I am a big fan of Ehrenreich’s acerbic wit and observations on our society.

9. Tara Wetsover’s Educated. Because I am interested in her take on the power and pitfalls of higher education.

10. Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel mainly because I recently finished reading her prescient dystopian (flu pandemic) novel Station Eleven.

11. American Birds: A Literary Companion, edited by Andrew Rubenfeld and Terry Tempest Williams. Because watching birds in my backyard during the pandemic shelter-in-place spring have entertained and soothed me.

12. Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song, a collection of essays. Because I miss the compassionate and lyrical voice of one of my favorite contemporary writers who died in 2017 from a brain tumor.

13. Louise Aronson’s Elderhood. Because I have heard good things about geriatrician and writer Aronson’s book. And because this is the summer I officially enter elderhood. And because as a society we suffer from extreme ageism as highlighted by our seeming indifference to the high death rates from COVID-19 among our elders. (see Aronson’s article “Ageism is making the pandemic worse” in The Atlantic, March 28, 2020.

Elliott Bay Book Company ‘Becoming a Nurse’ Event/June 11th, 7pm

The following is from the Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle) Events page for June. I believe I have Karen Maeda Allman, bookseller and director of Author Events at EBB to thank for the kind description. As a writer who uses their bookstore as a gathering space, she is referring to the fact that I am part of Waverly Fitzgerald’s monthly Shipping Group at the EBB cafe. Thank you Waverly and all my fella’ Shippers for all the support over the years!

I want to add that we may (hopefully) be joined on June 11th by Nina Gaby, psych nurse practitioner, visual artist, and writer from the Boston area. Her essay “Careening Toward Reunion” in the Becoming a Nurse anthology is quite dogeared in my personal copy. I seriously want to meet her… If you are in the Seattle area on June 11th, please come join us for some nurse power time at Elliott Bay.


Start: 06/11/2013 7:00 pm

It’s a particular pleasure for us when writers who use our bookstore as a gathering space have new work to celebrate, as will happen a few times this spring and summer. Tonight, Josephine Ensign, who has contributed so much to our community as a nurse and teacher of the next generation of nurses, appears with colleague Eddie Lueken and Karla Thellen for a group reading from their new anthology, I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse (edited by Lee Gutkind, InFact Books). Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system and these stories reveal something of the experiences of nurses at all stages of their careers. Here is illuminating reading for those aspiring to join the profession as well as for those who benefit from their work.


ISBN-13: 9781937163129
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: In Fact Books, 3/2013

The Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 Tenth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
United States