Pandemic Reading: Mini-Reviews (Part 1)

Pandemic Reading: Mini-Reviews (Part 1)Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Published: 2019 by Berkley
Genres: Romance
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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I want to close out all of the books that I read this year so I can update my Goodreads and have them count toward my 2020 reading challenge, so that I feel like I have accomplished something in this year where time is meaningless. Clearly writing detailed reviews has fallen by the wayside. So it’s time for some mini-reviews!

Book #1 is Well Met by Jen DeLuca. It’s a romance novel centered around a Renaissance Faire. My Renn Faire friends and I read it as a book club since we couldn’t go to an actual Renn Faire this year. The story is about a woman named Emily who is staying with her sister in a small town after a breakup. Her sister is recovering from a car accident, so Emily is helping out shuttling her daughter to and from school events. Emily gets guilted into volunteering at a local Renn Faire with her niece, where she gets to don old-timey clothes and immerse herself in a romanticized past. There she meets Simon, a crotchety bookstore owner with a tragic backstory who helps to organize the Faire. Well Met is a cute and lighthearted romance, and I loved that it had a plot point about having healthy boundaries in a relationship. And it made me miss the Renn Faire even more than I already did.

Pandemic Reading: Mini-Reviews (Part 1)Strange Histories: The Trial of the Pig, the Walking Dead, and Other Matters of Fact from the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds by darren oldridge
Published: 2006 by Routledge
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Next mini-review: a book from that time I accidentally joined an academic book club about the history of witchcraft and witch trials in the medieval/Renaissance world. In the DC area, there’s a series of fun lectures at bars called Profs & Pints given by professors on different fascinating topics, ranging from history to folklore and more. And in the pre-pandemic world, I always wanted to go to one, but the logistics never worked out. Then everything got moved online, and it became much easier for me to attend. One of the professors who gave a lecture about with trials recommended this book as part of her bibliography, and a bunch of us ended up getting together virtually to discuss it.

The basic premise of the book is that we all have cultural assumptions that shape our world view, and as rational people, we act in accordance with those assumptions. In a world where knowledge is seen to come from authority and where religion embraces the existence of witchcraft, rational people acted within the scope of their beliefs to protect their communities from perceived harm. Strange Histories examines events of the past that seem strange to modern audiences, and then contextualizes those events within the belief systems in which they occurred. And once you get used to seeing history within a lens of shared assumptions and cultural beliefs, it can cause some interesting reflections on the present. This book made me think a lot, and I’m glad that I read it.

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