Week in (Very Little) Reading: February 13

Italy, 2012

The world lost a big, imperfect, loving, generous, passionate, kind, and wonderful man this weekend. He traveled widely, loved fiercely, argued strongly, and gave generously of his time and his self. He will be sorely missed.

Week in Reading: February 6, 2017

It's been an unsurprisingly light week in the reading world over here. Work's work, but my spare time has been spent almost exclusively visiting a sick family member and running myself into the ground--not necessarily in that order. Luckily, getting to these visits means plenty of time for audiobooks, and my long run this weekend--my longest to date!--went well and didn't kill me. So, small things. Focus on the small things.

book cover collage of the autobiography of malcolm x, the unquiet dead by ausma zehanat khan, the sun is also a star by nicola yoon, american pastoral by philip roth, and fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe by fannie flagg

Social Justice Book Club: Hope in the Dark Wrap Up & Announcements


I'm going to start by seconding what Janani said in her wrap-up post for this month's reading... thank you. I am amazed at the growth this club has seen in just one month, and so, so excited to see the energy and enthusiasm around reading important books on important topics. It truly makes my heart break a little less every time I read the news, knowing there are so many people interested in digging in on tough conversations each and every day.


So, that said, on to Hope in the Dark. We chose this book for January because it felt timely following the results of the 2016 election... and truly, I couldn't have predicted how timely it would become in the weeks following the 2017 inauguration. With no apologies for block quoting:

A Month in Reading, and Not Reading: January 2017

Well. It has been a month. My heart is heavy with headlines, and I've found myself paralyzed by how overwhelming everything seems right now. I'll be completely honest: in the face of all that's come in recent days, and all I expect will continue to come, I'm finding reading--let alone writing about reading--to be small and mundane and hard to accomplish. But I'm also trying to find some balance, something to hold on to, and books have been a constant source of comfort and strength for me--and so, so many others. And so maybe I'll find my way back to writing about them again. Consider this a practice run.

book covers of the young widower's handbook, the moons of jupiter, destiny of the republic, the underground railroad and among the ruins

Of late, I've read mostly things by deadline: review books, author interviews, and book club meetings. There's something about the sense of control that comes from reading on a deadline that is at once comforting and joyless. Some of these have been truly excellent reads: The Young Widower's Hamdbook (out in February; read with tissues nearby); Moons of Jupiter (short but dense and exceptionally powerful short stories by Alice Munro); Destiny of the Republic (I'm finding unexpected comfort in the chaotic annals of American history; perhaps there are lessons there we can apply to the present); The Underground Railroad (yes, I know, I'm the last person on earth to read this, and yes, it lives up to every bit of hype surrounding it); Among the Ruins (the third in the Detective Esa Khattak series, and you bet I'm now going back to read the first two).

Looking Back at 2016, By the Books

2016 was the first time in a long time I didn't break 100 books read. I didn't get to many of the buzziest books I heard so many good things about. I didn't read a single one of my Book of the Month books (is that some kind of new record)? I didn't finish a single one of my reading challenges.

And I'm not even a little bit mad about it. Because looking back at this year of reading, there were still some really damn good books. Why I liked them, and links to review where available, are included below:


The Year Ahead: Reading, Writing, Living


It's been a quiet little blogosphere around these parts of late. While I'm tempted to apologize for that, one of my goals for the year is to be less sorry and more thankful... and so I'm not going to say I'm sorry I've been distracted, but instead observe that I am thankful that you, whoever you may be, are still here, reading whatever strange musings I fling out into the interwebs, sparse as they may be.

Which brings me to resolutions, focus, and my lack thereof for 2016.

My word of focus for 2016 was "savor." At the end of 2015, feeling burnt out from a year of too much yes, too much joining, and far, far too many to-dos, I wrote,

I will savor the moments that bring me joy, and the people and activities that are part of that.

I failed miserably at this focus. I continued to say yes--travel! weddings! presentations! volunteering!--and did not create the space I needed to be able to sit back and savor the moments I so craved. I got hung up on small disasters, allowing them to derail my sense of purpose. I focused on large disasters--of which there are many, many many--and found myself paralyzed by the horror of it all. I tried to move my life away from lists and to-dos by refusing to mark pleasure activities (reading, hiking, day trips, dates) on a list of "Things to Accomplish." Unable to move completely away from lists and to-dos (my brain can't hold everything, after all), my list of "Things to Accomplish" became little more than household chores and business tasks, and drained the savoring right out of my everything.

Social Justice Book Club, January 2016: Hope in the Dark Sign-ups & Information

It's that time again! We're excited to be closing in on the start of the January 2016 Social Justice Book Club group read of Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit.