Apocalypse Now? by Jamie Grove
805 contributor Jamie Grove shelters in place with her growing book list. This post is part of our "My Home Library" blog that features essays by writers who are sheltering in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. 805 is proudly published by the Manatee County Public Library System. We hope this blog will help Manatee County residents show off their home libraries, find comfort in books, and feel a connection to the library during this difficult time.
I let the dog in this morning, and beads of rain and snow were collected on his back. Even if we were allowed to go out–down the street to the park, out to the lake, the store, anywhere at all–who would want to? In Oregon, the crocuses may have bloomed, but there’s snow creeping down the foothills.
I’ve set up my makeshift office at the dinner table. A laptop for me. Another one for my son to toil through his first grade homework. Crayons and paper at the far end so the two-year-old can do her “homework” too. The real tricky business of all this, beyond being housebound, beyond having the comforts of our everyday routine disrupted, beyond vacillating constantly between worry and stress and frustration, might just be the siren call of my bookcase in the next room.
I read constantly when times are good, in times of stress, and now that the outside world is
off limits, I’m reading with a desperate ferocity. I’ve finished three books (Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl, The Eclipse I Call Father by David Axelrod, and Temple Grove by Scott Elliott) since the lockdowns started in earnest, threw another two aside in apathy, and have a stack beside my bed to turn to next. They’re all there, waiting on my shelf for a quiet moment when I can open the spines–careful not to crack them–turn the pages, smooth out the dog-eared pages left by some monster who read the book before me.
I’m reading the 2018 Best American Short Stories curated by Roxane Gay, and then I’ll be turning my sights to The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, The Whale by Mark Beauregard, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. After that, if the library is still closed–which, at the rate I’m reading these days, it will be–I’m consoling myself with the fact that there’s a hefty stack of books that I’ve been meaning to get around to one of these days. It seems the time has come. These run the gamut of Nobel Prize winners (The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass), door-stoppers (Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks and The Witching Hour by Anne Rice), poetry (the complete poems of Dorothy Parker), and the stack goes on.
If that stack runs dry, I can turn to my bookshelf writ large, rereading old friends and standby classics. Maybe I’ll reread all my Brian Doyle or take a fantasy romp through lands I haven’t visited for a while. Goodness, if I get really desperate I’ll reread the ol’ required reading from my undergrad days. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll convince the kids to sit still long enough to read a couple chapters of Peter Pan or Harry Potter.
When the days feel most bleak, it almost seems like the apocalypse, and I’m sure I’m not the first writer to say so. But, has there ever been a better day to snuggle on the couch with the cats and the kids, a cup of tea, and a stack of books?
Jamie Grove has been featured in 805 Lit + Art, Parentheses Journal, The Write Launch, Oregon East, Abstract Magazine: Contemporary Expressions, and other literary journals. “Homecoming” (805 Lit + Art Volume 3, Issue 4, October 2017) was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology. She lives on the dry side of Oregon, with her family.