Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

I was a kid when AIDS hit America, and I didn’t begin to really understand what had happened, and why, until probably about 10 years ago. But pandemics are tricky (maybe you’ve noticed) and the experience that we hear about from news articles and retrospectives from the survivors — especially those who didn’t have AIDS themselves — can be very different from the lived experience of those who had (or have) AIDS and those who cared for them.

MK Czerwiec’s book is the story of a nurse who started in nursing by caring for those with AIDS, and whose heart has been there ever since. The book covers the time period from 1993 (essentially) to the closing of Unit 371 in 1999. It takes place in a hospital in Chicago. It explains how Unit 371 had to treat their patients differently from other patients in the hospital, and why… and what the consequences of those differences were for the patients inside.

For me, this book fills a gap in knowledge. I know the history of AIDS as captured in journalism and even in history books — Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present has an entire section dedicated to the AIDS epidemic. And I know how people like me who didn’t have AIDS or even know anyone with it reacted, because I lived it. MK Czerwiec fills the gap with what it was like to be there, to be immersed in it, and to come out the other side.

Cooking is Terrible by misha fletcher

Cooking is Terrible is not a cookbook so much as it is a field guide to turning the various elements in the kitchen into something your mother would agree counts as food. (Or at least my mother. YMMV, your mother may vary.)

Sometimes we do not have the time, energy, or desire to feed ourselves. That might be because we’re fighting a head cold and can’t taste anything anyway. It might be that we don’t have time to put together even 30 minutes of cooking, and something we can cook AND eat AND clean up after needs to take, say, 20. We might have other mental or physical disabilities that are preventing us from standing at a stove. We might just not have the spoons to deal with it.

Cooking is Terrible is like, ok, that’s not a problem. Here are some sandwich ideas. Here are some salad ideas, most of which are heartier than “dress up a lettuce”. Got a stick blender? Here are some soup ideas and here are some smoothie ideas.

It is definitely geared toward Americans who are easily able to buy things like precooked chicken or other meats, and bonus points if you can buy precut veggies, frozen fruit, etc. Since I am one of those, I’m all-in.

I’m looking forward to using some of these ideas / recipes to take the pressure off of figuring out food.

Foxes In Love, Volume 1 by Toivo Kaartinen

You’re probably familiar with the green and blue foxes that star in Foxes in Love, because Toivo Kaartinen posts them on twitter, Instagram, and tumblr. If you’re not, you’ll want to be. These are some of the most loving and caring comics available on the internet, with just enough of a humor twist to make you grin.

When you’re done volume 1, go preorder Foxes in Love volume 2.

Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle

Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle is written by Brian Clevinger and drawn by Scott Wegener.

Semi-spoiler alert: That thing the dinosaur did in the previous book sort of but didn’t quite work, resulting in Atomic Robo traveling back in time.

Most of the “back in time” books of Atomic Robo are actually just stories we haven’t heard yet, about a younger Robo during a younger time, a time post-Edison and Tesla, perhaps of World War II or the Cold War, punching Nazis or threatening Soviets.

This book, however, takes place in the Old West, before Edison and Tesla. Before electricity. Before robots, certainly. And Robo, who certainly didn’t plan ahead for his predicament, has only a limited amount of power, a strong desire to not change the past, and of course, an overdeveloped sense of justice.

Thus he finds himself with two famous westerners in 1884, fighting cyborg cowboys and saving the world. As you do.

There’s quite a bit of tension in this volume, some dry humor, and enough cyborgs to choke a steam engine. Definitely worth picking up.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

I’m not saying that The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) was scary. I am saying I read it in the bath and there’s now big blue hair dye spots on the wall where my skull was pressing against it because apparently my brain was trying to crawl away from the book.

Don’t read it if you’re remodeling. Jesus.