This has been a helluva year/eighteen months/whenever, so it’s no surprise that book sales have increased 29 percent compared to last year at this time.
We all have reasons for reading whatever it is we read, whether it’s the newspaper (or just the sports section or comics), a fashion magazine, graphic novels (even when we’re grown up), YA (even when we’re grown up), Stephen King, predictable Harlequin romances with hunky men and buxom women on the cover, science textbooks, or Twitter threads. I read to remember that the world isn’t always a shitshow, or when it is, that there is hope. I read for courage when I’m feeling not courageous. I read for ideas on how to make a difference, even if it’s simply to remind someone that they’re enough.
I also read to lose myself in another world for a while and to not think about my own. And that’s OK, too.
I read a LOT of memoirs while writing my own memoir (read an excerpt here), and they’ve all helped me, in some way, to complete the first (tenth, actually) draft, which is currently in the hands of an editor and my writing group.
With all the partisan bitching and divisive news cycles, reading memoir helps me feel like I’m part of something more significant. Real-life stories of childhood, young adulthood, family, divorce, death events, circus performing, falling in love in Paris, sexual healing or transformation…give me those! I need to be reminded that I’m more than just the present moment.
I’m also, finally, reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. I thought it would make me cry (thus why I avoided it for years), and it does in parts, but it also makes me rethink some of the ways I’ve written my own memoir. Her writing is dense. I get lost in and sometimes cringe through the accounts of her relationships with famous people and a lifestyle so way beyond my Midwest upbringing it makes my eyes glaze over. Yet, her writing is accessible. There are so many lines in this book that make me think, Wow… I never thought to write/think about my feelings like that, so richly simple.
In fiction, I love to lose myself in a good rom-com. Big name authors, lesser known authors, I don’t care. Give me love, lust, disappointment/heartbreak, reconciliation and make-up sex. That’s a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I also want drama and unexpected twists (but no horror or graphic deaths). Currently, I’m not quite halfway through William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace and I already don’t want it to end, just like I didn’t want his This Tender Land to end. So so so so good. (Also, give The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah a read. I also just purchased The Nightingale to read before it becomes a movie.)
That’s my current reading list. Please add your current book(s) to the comments! I’d love to know what (and why) you’re reading what you’re reading. (And if you want to read to find common ground with others (pun intended), you can read my book! Common Ground: Writings on Family, Change, Loss & Resilience.)