April 2020 Reading Update

April 2020 Update

The last day in April was day 46 of our self-isolation. As hard as it is to believe that we’ve been under a stay-at-home order for the past month-and-a-half, it’s harder to believe that this will continue indefinitely.

The university we work for has moved all summer classes online so it’s likely we’ll be working from home until the fall semester. And plans for the fall are still undecided. It seems like restrictions on businesses will loosen as the summer progresses, but it’s one thing to open a small business and another to bring 40,000 student together in one place.

I’ve been posting weekly updates about how things have been going for us during our self-isolation so I don’t have much in general to add here. Since I’m doing this monthly update, I’m going to forego a weekly one.

This week was much like the prior weeks. We’re settling into our self-isolated life. We’ve developed some new routines to replace the old ones we had enjoyed.

Our weekly date night has moved from Thursday to Wednesday to accommodate our new fish buying schedule. We used to get fresh seafood from our local farmers’ market on Saturday mornings which provided dinners over the weekend. Now, we’ve started going to a specialty store on Thursdays when it’s less crowded to get fish for Thursday and Friday dinners.

We’re still doing brunch on Saturdays, but, of course, that’s either take-out or delivery now. And we’re trying to get take-out or delivery one day a week to break up the working from home monotony.

Work has been a little less busy with the semester winding down but no less stressful as we continue to navigate a lot of uncertainty.


As I’ve mentioned in my self-isolation posts, I haven’t been out as much as usual to shoot since we’re not outside as much in general.

I did get back into some macro photography, which I already posted about: Macro Watches and More Self-Isolation Macro Photos.

The only other photography news is that I finally decided to just go ahead and mail the exposed rolls I have: 3 35mm rolls, 1 120 roll, and 1 110 roll.

The place I use when I don’t use my local place (which is currently closed), Richard Photo Lab, does process 110 film but the scanning is pricey. This is the first roll I took with the Minolta Autopak 450Ex Holly got me for Christmas so I don’t even know if it works. I wasn’t willing to pay a lot for the scans not knowing if or how well they turned out. Once I get the negatives back, I’ll try to figure out a way to scan them at home.

Not only am I looking forward to seeing how the first roll turned out in the Autopak 450 Ex, but I am eager to see how the first roll turned out in my Minolta X-700.

It will probably be a while until I get my scans and negatives. Shipping seems to be taking longer in general. Plus the photo lab has implemented safety precautions which may impact their turnaround time. I can be patient. I’m not going anywhere.

Drawing and Graphic Design

I did start drawing a bit again this month. Decided to start working through Drawing for the Absolute Beginner. Although I have been slowly trying to teach myself to draw for a few years now, I’ve done so in fits and starts so my progress have been very slow, and I often still feel like a beginner.

I haven’t been all that pleased with my recent practice, but, maybe soon, I’ll have drawings that I’m comfortable sharing.


As I wrote in my 2019 Update and 2020 Goals post, I simplified my goals for this year and, basically, decided on two: 

  • More posts here on This Creative Midlife 
  • A refreshed and thoughtful approach to my short stories. 

I’m still more attentive to this blog than I was last year. I posted here 8 times this month as compared to 3 times last April. I have already exceeding the number of total posts for last year when I wrote only 20. So far this year, I have posted 23 times. 

Probably not coincidentally, my blog traffic is up from last year. Last April, I had 49 visits. This April, I hit 215. 

My other writing, however, is not progressing. I’ve mentioned before that the stress of the job and the general world situation seem to have sapped my energy and concentration (not that I had a lot of either before). 

During April, I dabbled a bit with some story revisions but just barely. 

I mentioned in my March 2020 Update that I’ve been thinking about updating Kindred Spirits and working it into a 2nd edition. I haven’t done anything with that idea, but it could be a good, focused project for the near future. 


Short Stories

I read two recent stories in The New Yorker I really enjoyed: The Other One by Tessa Hadley and Bedtime Story by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. I liked the latter so much that I looked in The New Yorker archive and read two more of Bynum’s stories: Likes and The Burglar

Usually, The New Yorker also has an interview with the author of each issue’s short story, and I’ve started making a point of reading those which I’ll start linking in my list here. 

I would also like to start a habit of listening to the authors read their stories when that’s an option. In my previous job, when I had a significant bus ride, I used to listen to podcasts, The New Yorker’s The Writer’s Voice among them. I have a shorter commute with my current job, and I stopped listening to podcasts altogether. 

I have a new notebook that I’ve been thinking of using as a reading journal so I can make notes as I read things. I often struggle getting my thoughts together for these monthly updates so it would be helpful to have more to go on than my memory. 

I read 4 stories of note in April: 

Short Stories Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I’ve read and enjoyed 16 short stories:


Having more time at home still hasn’t resulted in a lot more reading (see above re: concentrating). I read three books in April, which is about my usual pace. 

Two of the Kindle books I had on hold through Overdrive became available: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner and Trust Exercise by Susan Choi. I had previously read and loved Kushner’s The Flamethrowers and had previously read and liked Choi’s A Person of Interest

I really liked The Mars Room but not quite as much as I enjoyed either The Flamethrowers or Trust Exercise. 

Trust Exercise is a bit of a challenging read. And it was interesting to read it shortly after reading Lauren Groff’s Fate and Furies. Both included students involved in theater. Both dealt with romantic (give or take) relationships between young people. And both tell the same story from different points of view. 

The other book I read was The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better after 50 by Jonathan Rauch. Now that I’m in my fifties, I’ve been interested in reading more about this stage of life. I found this book a worthwhile addition to my research, and I plan on writing a separate post about it as I had done with Midlife: A Philosophical Guide and Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.

April 2020 Reading Update
April 2020 Reading Update

Books Read in 2020

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020

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