I've spent the past week fighting off some kind of viral crud that kept me home from work and made me sleepy, breathless, and lethargic. I'm now a week behind on all those lovely "September New Year" projects I blogged about last Monday, but on the positive side I got a lot of reading done! I'm finally feeling better, though, and about ready to dive back in to writing, exercising, cooking healthy foods, and all that important and virtuous stuff.
94) And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
This was one of the most harrowing and compelling reads I can remember. It focuses on the early years of the AIDS epidemic, mostly from the point of view of the gay men in L.A. and San Francisco who were among its early casualties and of the scientists and clinicians who tried to figure out what was going on despite political stonewalling from all sides. It brought back memories for me of the early to mid 80's, when I was pretty far removed from the crisis--as a heterosexual adolescent girl growing up in the rural South--but still hyper-aware of this strange and terrifying new disease.
There's so much I could say about this book, but what struck me more than anything else is how terrible we are as a species about responding to a slow-moving crisis. Our fight-or-flight mechanisms serve us pretty well with immediate threats, but it's stunning how long it took pretty much everyone involved to take the obvious steps when it was more than clear that AIDS was a blood-borne and sexually transmitted illness with a long incubation period. It reminded me, of all things, of some of the current controversy over climate change--that clinging to a minuscule possibility that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is wrong because accepting that evidence means you need to make big changes.
95) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This book took a few chapters for me to get into it, but after that I couldn't put it down. It's an unusual book, at least for me, but I enjoyed the combination of spy adventure, friendship, courage, and sacrifice it contained.
96) Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner
Full disclosure: Rose Lerner is one of my critique partners and a very good friend. All that said, if you enjoy historical romances written in a strong voice, with a deep grounding in history that only adds to the richness of characterization, the poignancy of the romance, and the sexiness of the love scenes, you should read this book.