Well, March sure was a peculiar month. I was home, and then I was home in self-isolation, which I still am. But I started the New Decameron Project with Maya Chhabra and Lauren Schiller, so I have been snowed under reading stories and writing frame bits, and also setting up online socialising things which are sanity saving (I’m still not an introvert) but take time. Also, some of the things I read this month were extremely long. So I have read only fourteen books in March, and here they are…
Fiction and Excerpts 
A friend was asking the other day for books in which no bad things happen, because with politics, pandemics, and polar vortices, sometimes you want your reading to be all upbeat. But yet, there aren’t many books where nothing bad happens. Myself, when I want comfort reading, I’ll settle for “everything all right at the end” which leaves me a much wider field. Nothing bad at all is really hard. I mean, you have to have plot, which means conflict, or at least things happening, and once you have obstacles to defeat there’s almost certain to be something bad.
Keep reading, because I do actually think of some.
February was another long cold snowy month in which I was at home writing and also read a fair bit—25 books, and they’re a mixed bag, as usual. I have a category of “irrelevant non-fiction” which is just non-fiction I’m reading that’s not specifically research for anything, and I read a bunch of that this month.
January was a quiet snowy month when I was at home, and I read twenty-five books, and here they are.
No travel in December, lots of socialising, but also plenty of reading—I read 25 books, and some of them were amazing. I cannot despair of the world when there are such wonderful books being written.
November began with a trip to Utopiales, a huge French SF festival in Nantes, followed by a lightning trip to the UK to see King John at Stratford and Henry VI at the Globe in London, then back to Paris for some bookstore events and the Louvre. Then I came home to find winter had set in: 20cm of snow and -10C on the day I got back. I had the proofs of Or What You Will to do, but otherwise plenty of time to read and little desire to go out of the house. I read 22 books in November, and here they are.
I was at home all of October; it included Scintillation which meant lots of friends were here for a few days, but also there was a week of being laid up doing nothing but reading, and at the very end I headed to Nantes for Utopiales. I read 27 books, or I guess 28 because I read one of them twice.
September was another travel month, not quite as intense as July and August. I went from London to Florence, and hung out in Florence until I came home on the 24th. It was all wonderful, and I read a reasonable 17 books.
The first week of August I was in Florence, then I was in Wales seeing family, then came Worldcon, a trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe, more theatre in London, and back to Florence right at the end. A busy month travelling with friends, so I only read 8 books. I saw lots of amazing plays, though!
July was a busy month—I was home for the first week and then I was off travelling to France and Italy, lots of looking at art and places and not all that much time for reading. I read just 14 books.
June started off with a book promotion trip for Lent to Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, which was pretty reading intensive: long train rides, early nights in hotel rooms. Then I was home mostly revising for the rest of the month. There were also a lot of pain days where I did nothing but read. So I read 33 books in June, some of them not very long—there are a number of children’s books and magazines in here. July’s going to have a lot of travel and August even more so, so I’ll probably read less.
Ever since I visited Florence in 2011, Florence has made it into whatever I’ve been writing, even when it’s set on a generation starship, or in Heaven, or in Plato’s Republic. Modern Florence got into My Real Children. But Lent is my Renaissance Florence book, and I went to Florence and stayed there for a couple of months when I was writing it. I went to the places where the book is set—the very rooms, as often as I could, which was a wonderful experience. Most of the places in most of my books are real, but sometimes they’re places where I haven’t been for a long time, and being able to actually pace out scenes and look out of real windows to see what the characters would be able to see was remarkably helpful, as well as fun.
It’s true that I read a lot, but the amount I read at any given time varies depending on what else I’m doing. This month I was in Chicago for three weeks helping Ada Palmer run the papal election of 1492 as part of a Renaissance History immersion course. This is a ton of fun but very time intensive. I also went to Minicon. So I only read twelve books. And here they are.
Young Girolamo’s life is a series of miracles.
It’s a miracle that he can see demons, plain as day, and that he can cast them out with the force of his will. It’s a miracle that he’s friends with Pico della Mirandola, the Count of Concordia. It’s a miracle that when Girolamo visits the deathbed of Lorenzo “the Magnificent,” the dying Medici is wreathed in celestial light, a surprise to everyone, Lorenzo included. It’s a miracle that when Charles VIII of France invades northern Italy, Girolamo meets him in the field, and convinces him to not only spare Florence but also protect it. It’s a miracle than whenever Girolamo preaches, crowds swoon. It’s a miracle that, despite the Pope’s determination to bring young Girolamo to heel, he’s still on the loose…and, now, running Florence in all but name.
That’s only the beginning. Because Girolamo Savanarola is not who—or what—he thinks he is. He will discover the truth about himself at the most startling possible time. And this will be only the beginning of his many lives.
Available May 28th from Tor Books, Jo Walton’s Lent is a magical re-imagining of the man who remade fifteenth-century Florence—in all its astonishing strangeness.
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