Coronavirus Diary: September 1, 2022

School is in session and the Coronavirus is making itself known. I am in the process of hiring student workers for the library, and one of my new hires had to miss the first week of school as she contracted Covid. I’m sure she won’t be the last.

The new vaccine that is supposed to target the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants which are plaguing the nation right now should be ready after Labor Day. But there is definite vaccine burnout and apparently, funding issues. I get it; I’ve had the two vaccines and two boosters, but I also get a flu shot every year so I’m just adding this to my to-do list.

I have two friends, one in Florida and one in Pennsylvania, who have sworn they never had Covid. They had family members who did have it and they tested daily but never had a positive test. That said, there is a blood test that some doctors are now giving that can show whether you’ve been vaccinated and whether or not you’ve had the actual disease. And both of these friends were shocked to find they tested positive for having had Covid. Completely asymptomatic and no positive tests. I’m not even sure what to think about this.

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count

Book News

When they came for the librarians: My profession is under attack — what happens now? People in my profession are used to mockery and low salaries. We didn’t expect constant insults and real danger

Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they’re doing [Vox]

Ali Hazelwood’s sort-of-secret life as a best-selling author

Colleen Hoover is queen of the best sellers list. Who is she, and why are her books so popular?

Judge thwarts Va. Republicans’ effort to limit book sales at Barnes & Noble

NYC library: Youths read banned books online free: The Brooklyn Public Library offers a free library card to anyone in the U.S. aged 13 to 21 who wants to check out and read books digitally in response to the nationwide wave of book censorship and restrictions. Free Books Unbanned Brooklyn Library Card

Food News

We all fall into food ruts. I love to cook, but at the end of the day, I’m not often inspired to try something new. I’m more inclined to go with what is easy and what I know works for my family. But my husband is going through some dental issues that are going to take about a year to resolve, and for some of that time, he needs to eat soft. His dietary restrictions for dental work so far include no biting anything – he has to cut everything up to eat. Not that big an issue, but chewing is also iffy at the moment. I made a Caprese salad thinking tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are soft, but he had trouble with the basil. He usually eats a big salad every night but that was out until he healed a bit; now I make him chopped salad and that is working out for him.

Big Lasagna

In addition to his dental issues, he is also diabetic which imposes other dietary restrictions. He is managing with as little frustration as possible, but I’ve had to change up what I make for dinner. He rarely eats refined carbs; as most people know by now, carbs, especially refined carbs, turn into sugar – not good for diabetics. Yes, he could eat a lot of beans as they are soft, but not really his favorite. I want him to enjoy his dinners, not suffer through them. I’ve been making soups – thank goodness for the Instant Pot! I made split pea and barley soup, which took about 20 minutes total. Same with lentil soup. I made Samin Nosrat’s Big Lasagna – it took most of the day on Sunday (and I purchased fresh lasagna sheets!) but we’ll get at least two dinners out of it and my family loves it. Eggplant parm and meatballs with small pasta (spaghetti is too difficult for him right now) are in the rotation, as is what we call breakfast for dinner – pancakes, waffles, eggs, omelets, frittatas. I should really try shakshuka now, too. And I’m finally going to try Smitten Kitchen’s Pizza Beans! I bought him some sugar-free Klondike bars – it’s a treat and the man is in need of treats. And sugar-free puddings and Jello and yogurt. Chobani Zero Sugar is pretty good, especially if you mix in some fresh fruit.

And this too shall pass…

From the Archives

From March 31, 2001 via the Wayback Machine; then again on the BookBitchBlog in 2006. Twenty-plus years later, it still holds up!

America’s Hidden Problem:  Literature Abuse by Michael McGrorty

Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse, or LA, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.

Social Costs of Literary Abuse

Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky reference librarians in small towns.

Excessive reading during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of English professors, teachers of English and creative writing. Known as Fetal Fiction Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of nearsightedness, daydreaming and emotional instability.


It has been established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of literature. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses of an abuser become abusers themselves.

Other Predisposing Factors

Fathers or mothers who are English teachers, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television in the evening.


Pre-marital screening and counseling, referral to adoption agencies in order to break the chain of abuse. English teachers in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity, and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection.

Self-Test for Literature Abusers

How many of these apply to you?

1.  I have read fiction when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up.
2.  I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
3.  I read rapidly, often ‘gulping’ chapters.
4.  I have sometimes read early in the morning, or before work.
5.  I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
6.  Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
7.  Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
8.  I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
9.  At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
10. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I had finished a novel.
12. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
13. I have attempted to check out more library books than permitted.
14. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy reading.
16. I have suffered ‘blackouts’ or memory loss from a bout of reading.
17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
18. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
19. Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem.

Decline and Fall:  The English Major

Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges. Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path-don’t expect your teenager to approach you and say, ‘I can’t stop reading Spencer.’ By the time you visit her dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late.

What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:

1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won’t abandon her — but that you aren’t spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Borders, either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.

2. Face the issue: Tell her what you know, and how: ‘I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?’ Ask the hard question–Who is this Count Vronsky?’

3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Praise her brother, the engineer. Introduce her to frat boys. 

4. Do what you have to do. Tear up her library card. Make her stop signing her letters as ‘Emma.’ Force her to take a math class, or minor in Spanish. Transfer her to a college in Alabama. 

You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:
* She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died.
* She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet.
* Next to her bed is a picture of: Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, or any scene from the Lake District.

Most important, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your telephone directory.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.

*Thanks to The New York Times and The Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.

2 Responses to Coronavirus Diary: September 1, 2022

  1. rae6684 says:

    I may be a literature abuser as I can tick more than 3 of the above boxes. I would be interested in doing a blood test as I havent tested positive for Covid, but feel I may have had at one point. Good luck with the cooking

  2. Jan Zahrly says:

    Thanks for the lovely repeat –it was fun to read even if I am 20 years older. Keep up the good work. peace, janz

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