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Reading through Quarantine and Retirement, by Christa King

This post is part of 805's “My Home Library” series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the pandemic and beyond.

Last March, when I switched to working remotely, I saw it as a test for my upcoming retirement. I thought retirement would include the Denver Art Museum, the botanic gardens, lots of dinners with friends, and regular visits to my library, but none of those have happened. Although, bless their hearts, the neighborhood library has curbside pickup! I retired at the end of September without ever returning to the office.

We live in a small house, with a large back yard, so have hosted social-distancing events with friends and family. I am really looking forward to the day when I can hug everyone, cook a big meal, and sit around a table (closer than six feet), pour out of the same bottle of wine, and talk into the evening!

However, most valuable to me is reading. The room that serves as my home library is also my office and art-room. We also have gardening books, art books and poetry books stashed in the living room and bedroom, and cookbooks in the hallway and kitchen. Wherever there is space, at my house, you’ll find books.

My rule is that I don’t keep a book if I’m not going to read it again. During the last nine months, I have re-read every novel in my house. Some of my favorites are books in a long series. I love the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie King, partly because the writing is well done, but also because they travel the world—it’s very satisfying to a homebound traveler. I’ve also re-read the Phryne Fisher Series by Kerry Greenwood. What a feisty and fearless woman Phryne is! And the Chronicles of Pern by Anne McCaffery make a break from the current world.

Other re-reads are what I call “big novels.” Some of these include older books like That Man Cartwright by Anne Fairbairn and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but also include many of Barbara Kingsolver’s books, and The Gown by Jennifer Robson. Then, each evening, I sit down with a glass of wine and work my way through my stack of poetry books. I’m currently reading Poetry of the American West, edited by Allison Hawthorne Deming. Oddly, I find poems require more concentrated thought.

Our world will be forever changed by this year’s events, but I am confident reading has gifts to help us cope with those changes.


Christa King returned to university as a non-traditional student (meaning old!) and received her BA in Creative Writing at the age of 51. She received a Master’s degree in Library Sciences in 2012. A long-time staff member with the University of Arizona and then with the University of Colorado, she is a poet, writer, and editor and is currently working on a poetry manuscript and a novel.


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