Updates: Getting Sick & Reading

It feels like I’ve been in a bit of a bubble world since the end of June. By mid-June my spouse began reporting that his coworkers were coming in contact with COVID-19 either in vague ways like partying in Miami while the city’s case numbers were rising or more directly in the case of one who had a friend over who tested positive (unclear if this was before or after the friend came over). Earlier in the year when everyone was staying home it was shocking that his place of work didn’t have any reported cases though they were essential workers who began dealing with higher volumes and longer hours during that time. Once everything opened up it seemed likely that it would hit his place of work and neither of us had options to isolate from each other so it always felt like it would be a matter of time before we’d both end up sick. Prior to June he’d scheduled some time off in order to recover from the long work hours by staying home. The timing was good because it wasn’t long before he got sick and then I did too.

We both had relatively mild cases all things considered. He returned to work once he had his negative test. It’s been more gradual for me. The recovery has been on par with other times in my life when recovery was a weird slog between feeling fine and feeling frayed at the edges. All of the writing and art momentum is back to baseline and books have been the usual refuge. Getting sick did get me away from social media and much like my general sense of taste has been lost (along with my strong sense of smell), my taste for social media has been drastically diminished as well. Having my own experience of COVID-19 I was even less interested in the constant back and forth. It was mild but insidious in ways that other illnesses I’ve experienced have not been. The loss of smell and taste have had the most obvious lingering effects. I didn’t want to catch it, I masked when not at home and I’m not eager for others to catch it. But, also, when I wear a mask now it is actually harder to breathe than prior to catching it. I still wear it but I think that’s worth noting.

There’s a whole list of things I learned from the experience of having it and from getting tested. Maybe that’ll make it to a separate post at some point but for now it’s just the background of another period of downtime. I’m hoping to resume some general posting schedule again but we’ll see how August goes.

So, downtime reading has been fairly escapist as I’ve continued with the Dresden Files series. Conceptually it is a series I had wanted desperately to like because I loved the urban fantasy angle but have hated the first person narration particularly as Dresden’s internal monologue makes him my least liked character. Reading books I know I’m not loving is something I’ve done more over the years as it is easier to identify things that work for me as a reader and things that don’t than in books I love. And, there’s a certain amount of completionism that has also compelled me to delve deeper in the series with each book I’ve been able to slog through. Added to that the fact that many fans say that the books get better (*they do) further into the series.

For people who love the series, I think there are many fun elements in it and there are characters who I really enjoyed. But, for me, there were so many elements I just couldn’t deal with. I’ve also been reading the Witcher and the Hannibal series lately, all three series have male protagonists with some similar traits and for me the thing that made me most frustrated with the Dresden Files was being bound to Dresden’s mind throughout. I think it really limits the narrative in ways that make an otherwise fascinating and at times fun world much more tedious because we always see it exclusively through Harry’s eyes.

I finally reached my breaking point with the book “Changes“. It just felt like a mess. I had actually really enjoyed “Turn Coat” (despite having many of my usual cringes and annoyances as I slogged through) because it was a chance to get to know Morgan in a way that had not been possible previously. Just having a fresh new perspective on other characters besides Harry had gotten me really interested in reading the next book so I was that much more disappointed with “Changes”. Which is why, my biggest complaint with Dresden Files is simply that I want a broader view of the world within the series than is possible through Harry’s eyes and experience. I was incredibly disappointed with the ending of Changes for so many reasons but the entire book was the most frustrating one I’d read since the very first one (which had put me off the series for a long time).

After I finished the book I read spoilers from the remaining books in the series up through “Peace Talks” and was glad that I decided to stop with “Changes”. I’m a bit disappointed that I continued past “Turn Coat” but in some ways it was interesting to see the contrast between the two and why I liked one but not the other.

*The books do get better after the first few because the world and characters grow beyond Dresden’s small world of being a wizard and a private detective. But, the complaints that I had with the first book remained and often intensified with later books in the series which is why, for me, it’s down to the books being exclusively from Harry’s perspective. You have to really love Harry Dresden’s way of seeing the world (as a reader) to enjoy the series and because I didn’t I found it frustrating to have such a narrow view of a pretty interesting world. I really loved the Carpenters and Mouse and thought the world expanded out in ways that held a lot of potential but I think that made it even more disappointing any time those were sidelined to further Harry’s bumbling adventures.

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