March 2020 books

This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging at the end of October 2023. Every six-ish days, I’ve been revisiting a month from my recent past, noting work and family developments as well as the books I read in that month. I’ve found it a pleasantly cathartic process, especially in recent circumstances. If you want to look back at previous entries, they are all tagged under bookblog nostalgia.

This, as you may remember, was the month that the world ended. When I woke up in Cambridge on the morning of 1 March, I had no idea that it would be my last time outside Belgium until July. I visited B a week later, on Sunday 8 March, which was just as well because we were told on Friday 13 that we could not see the girls again until the pandemic situation allowed. As it became clear how things were going, though not how log it would last, we had a gloomy socially distanced farewell lunch in the office with the last few colleagues before lockdown hit. (Colleagues in the picture are from Cyprus, the USA, Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Italy.)

And that was that; we were all working from home, and not allowed to see anyone outside our own households. It also coincided with the close of Hugo nominations, the only time of the five times that I have been involved that we did not use the Kansa system first developed by Eemeli Aro in 2017; it was a complete nightmare, on top of everything else.

I marked the passage of time with two videos about our village:

and with the first of what would become a long series of ten-day updates about life in plague times.

Despite the interruption to my commute, I read 26 books that month.

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 17)
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of Scandinavia’s Utopia, by Michael Booth
1493, by Charles C. Mann
Strategic Europe, ed. Jan Techau
Red Notice, by Bill Browder
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith – did not finish

Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 7)
Small Island, by Andrea Levy
Midnight Cowboy, by James Leo Herlihy

sf (non-Who): 17 (YTD 42)
The Golden Fleece, by Robert Graves
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge
The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (did not finish)
The Green Man’s Foe, by Juliet E. McKenna
Fleet of Knives, by Gareth A. Powell
Babayaga, by Toby Barlow
Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman
Ragged Alice, by Gareth A. Powell
The Survival of Molly Southbourne, by Tade Thompson
Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
The Winged Man, by E. Mayne Hull
Excession, by Iain M. Banks
A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine
Blake’s 7 Annual 1979
Blake’s 7 Annual 1980
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djélì Clark
Blake’s 7 Annual 1981

Doctor Who: 1 (YTD 6)
Doctor Who: The Macra Terror, by Ian Stuart Black

Comics: 1 (YTD 6)
Die, vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles

7,400 pages (YTD 20,700)
9/26 (YTD 23/78) by women (Levy, Hardinge, Hurley, McKenna, Newman, McGuire, Hull, Martine, Hans)
3/26 (YTD 8/78) by PoC (Levy, Thompson, Clark)

Thumbs up for Deeplight, which you can get here; thumbs down, I’m afraid, for Atlas Alone, which you can get here.