Sunday, January 03, 2016

Coming in for a Landing and Launching Again

Of course just as I ended my year-long project that involved finishing a book each week for 52 weeks, my nephew wrote about getting through more than 100 in a year and I saw a post about someone who read 164 books in 2015.

Isn't that the way it goes?

I wanted this project to be about more than reading, though. I wanted it to be about thinking and writing and seeing how all of it both reflected our world and shaped my life over the course of the year.

So many threads wove through the books I chose and also wove through real life, sometimes in simple or unexpected ways.

Like how this passage from A House in Corfu was exquisitely refracted through the stories of Syrian refugees being welcomed on the island of Lesbos: ". . . my father, stretchered up the path by strong young men, spoke in a way that was as typical of him as the efforts by the doctor to help him had been of a Greek to a suffering stranger."

And how Margo Jefferson (Negroland) reluctantly realized that she was probably most like Amy March in Little Women and how May Alcott (Little Woman in Blue) resented the way her sister Louisa had portrayed her as Amy.

And how we ended up spending a week exploring in the Pacific Northwest as a direct result of reading The Curve of Time.

What was the book that I can't stop thinking about?

I am actually very surprised. Frankenstein. Sure it's one of the more recent books I read, but it illuminated so many of my ongoing explorations in earlier books (addiction, race, gender, criminal justice, disconnection, marginalization and, importantly, love) by offering such a powerful metaphor for thinking through both how people respond to being thought of as "monsters" by becoming monsters and how becoming monsters is not inevitable.

We have more power and responsibility than we realize when it comes to how we see one another (and ourselves) and how we react to the way we are seen. We need to realize it!

This is something I work on personally. It is something I think about in my work. It is something I think about as I watch such destructive judgment and fear play out in our communities, our nations, our world.

Frankenstein. Go figure.

And on a lighter note, I was very pleased at how often pots bursting with colorful geraniums appeared in the books I read. I don't think that is a coincidence and I am now, non-gardener that I am, obsessed with planting geraniums in pots for our front steps in a few months.

So that was 2015. For 2016?

Because I have a tendency to be far too earnest, I'm going to shove myself into shallower water and write something funny every week. Funny is an excellent challenge, both in life and in writing, and I'm going to experiment with various types of funny and various types of writing funny. Because I can. Be funny, I mean.

I think (she says with great earnestness) that a focus on the funny will be good medicine in the coming year. Especially this particular coming year.

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