• Becca Dzombak

corona-tine dispatch: a running reading list

Updated: May 21

I'm trying to avoid binge-watching netflix during the pandemic-induced social isolation. Not because I want to use the time to "better myself" instead (ha), but because sinking into the dark abyss of endless television is definitely one of my unhealthy coping mechanisms. Except for speeding to the end of Game of Thrones (the good seasons) or any seasons in the Bake-Off, when has watching 12+ hours of tv a day been good for anyone? Probably sometime, but rarely for me.

So instead, I'm reading (and baking & consuming lots of carbs). I'm on goodreads but this is a running list of what I'm reading, and why, and whether or not I recommend it. Years ago(!), in undergrad, a friend of mine was browsing my bookshelf and commented offhand, "Huh, you read a lot of white men." And I looked, and I did. And since then, I've been making an effort to read more women and women/people of color. It's way better.

Fiction - Nonfiction - Essays


Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge. Great series of essays (well-referenced) on race and intersectional feminism in the UK.

Half a Yellow Sun - C.N. Adichie. I just love her writing, plus I'm learning about history.

Sourdough - Robin Sloan. A quick, entertaining read that turned into a whimsical sort of fiction. Ignoring the fact that Sloan appears not to have talked to a microbiologist, or anyone who knows anything about how hard it is to isolate a single strain, it's fun.

Hood Feminism - Mikki Kendall. Currently reading.


wow, no thank you - Samantha Irby. Hilarious, love it, always recommend. I also re-read her we are never, ever meeting in real life.

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 100% recommend.

Purple Hibiscus - C.N. Adichie. 95% recommend - I appreciated the religion-focused arc, but if you're averse to that sort of thing, this might not be for you.

Weather - Jenny Ofili. A weird little book. 25% recommend, higher if you like minimalist prose with little narration or plot. Pro: extremely short read.


The Testaments - Margaret Atwood. 90% recommend if you read/watched The Handmaid's Tale. If not, then you could read it, but it might not make much sense? It's not as good as Handmaid's Tale and I was a little surprised at the ending, but I still enjoyed it and read it in about 24 hours.

City of Girls - I think I would have liked this if it had been a little shorter. It's a fun read, a mix of historical and frivolous, but it feels a little too self-indulgent at times. We get it, they're young and beautiful, out drinking on the town. 75% rec., 100% if you just want something light and distracting.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Not gonna lie, I judged this as being frivolous and maybe not that well-written in the first few pages, but it got me. I didn't know anything about the plot going into it, and I'd hope the same for others. 100% recommend.

Evicted - M. Desmond. Not at all light and would probably not recommend during a pandemic, but an engaging read that really digs into the issues of homelessness, poverty, and landlord-tenant struggles, including differences in how race plays a role in these problems.

Books I read in the past but would recommend any time

Becoming - Michelle Obama. 100/10 everyone should read.

Invisible Women - C. Perez. An intense book documenting the systematic (if unintentional at times) ways that women have been left out, statistically, and the ramifications for our health, safety, and quality of life. Like Evicted, not a light read. I'll say "well-researched and well-referenced" rather than "heavy on the stats," because that's what I want from a book like this. But everyone living in society should read this.

Braiding Sweetgrass - Kimmerer. An excellent series of essays on the intersection of Native American culture and ecology, by a Native American female ecologist. Beautifully written, made me want to wander through the woods.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem - Joan Didion.

Samantha Irby, any and all.

About Me

I'm Becca Dzombak, a Ph.D. candidate and science writer at the University of Michigan. I study how Earth's life, atmosphere, and landscapes have changed over billions of years!


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