In the terrifying chaos of 2020, we are under pressure to add frenetically to our summer reading lists. In additon to Proust, Tolstoy, a Penguin philosophy set, the complete Jane Austen, and various neglected classics, we are expected to get a Ph.D. in Plague literature and Non-Racist literature.
Click, click, click! All is an uproar. Every morning I turn on the computer, drink coffee, and click on the headlines of the multiple “woke” political reading lists that have been added in the night. We’re living in plague times–that was the hot topic all spring. And then George Floyd was tragically murdered, and people are marching to protest racism and police brutality. (Normally I’d say, “Yes, protest!”–but the virus is still spreading and people will get sick.)
Click, click, click! Lists are fine, but we can’t read everything. The problem is, nobody can get a Ph.D. in every single worthy political issue. For my part, I have worked for abortion rights and give money to Planned Parenthood, which has had to close four clinics in our state. That is all I have energy to keep up with.
I am grateful to the medical experts who have taught us to protect ourselves from coronavirus, but I will not read more books about the plague, thank you very much.
Let us all do the best we can in these bad times. The whole planet is hanging from a thread.