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).

book covers of harry potter, tiny beautiful things, upstream, and milk and honey

Outside of review deadlines, I've been seeking comfort: I'm re-reading Harry Potter, starting from book one; I keep thumbing back through Tiny Beautiful Things; I adored Mary Oliver's essays in Upstream. I found an indefinable energy in Rupi Kaur's poetry collection, Milk and Honey.

book covers of what we do now, the autobiography of malcolm x, 1984, hope in the dark, how does it feel to be a problem

There's one last bucket of books on my recent stacks: those that I hope will help me tackle whatever is to come. The Social Justice Book Club read Hope in the Dark this month (stay tuned for review + wrap-up post to come tomorrow), and will be breaking with our traditional every-other-month approach to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in February. I suppose I'll be rereading 1984 in short order, along with What We Do Now and How Does it Feel to be a Problem?


Outside of the book world, I'm running. A lot. In some ways, into the ground, quite intentionally. I signed up for my first 50k, which I may or may not be able to accomplish; I'm learning to be ok with trying and failing, rather than failing to try. The race is in April so I'll just be carb-loading from now until then. Send cookies and baked potatoes.


And because I can't seem to look away from the black hole of my screen lately, a few things I've found comforting, important, terrifying, inspiring, or just generally worth reading of late (and some puppy pictures, because we all need fluffy puppy pictures, yes?):

  • I've been toying with Countable* and Congress apps to be better versed in upcoming legistlation and to be sure I'm making my representatives aware of where I stand on an issue. This is something I'm embarrassed I'd never participated in before, outside of a few major issues, and I promise to do better moving forward, at both the national and local levels. If anyone's used either of these apps, or has other suggestions, let me know in the comments! (*Countable allows you to "vote" on an issue in-app, which I've been skipping in favor of calling/writing my reps directly; mostly I appreciate the "layman's terms" summary of legislation.)

  • There are important issues surrounding the intersectionality--or lack thereof--of the Women's March. Let's talk about this. Let's listen, be aware of our failings, apologize, and do better. (NB: I read a ton of excellent articles on this issue post-March, but didn't bookmark them. If you've got others you recommend, please share 'em below.)

Got recommendations for further reading? Articles? Links? Books? Calming, soothing music? Meditation soundtracks? Please share.

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