I’ve always been that girl with her nose in a book. Yet somehow in recent years I have realized that I am spending more and more time reading news online and less and less time sitting down with a good book.
This month I decided to do something about that. I have made an effort to sit outside on the porch for a little while every day with a book. My days of reading a book every day are not going to return any time soon, and I did not even make a dent in my massive stack of books-to-be-read (not to mention the ten or more typed pages of books I want to read but do not own); but I am pleased with what I did manage to get through in 30 days.
I belong to the best book club in the world. Why? Because it meets next door; there is always plenty of good food, wine, and conversation; and no one gets mad if you have not read the book. This month, though, I did read and enjoy this discussion of how hardship builds community, which I found especially interesting in light of the current polarized state of the world.
I joined an online book club this month too, Booktober sponsored by The Myth Retold. Participants voted between two books in each of four genres, read one each week and discussed them in a private Facebook group. Week one was the first in a series. Brother Cadfael’s first adventure involved a quest for relics of a saint to bring glory to his medieval monastery–and, of course, murder. I loved this glimpse of the Middle Ages and plan to read the rest of the series.
I have been doing a lot of anti-racist reading/listening/learning in online groups, so this read was especially timely. I think I read it all in one sitting. I learned a lot–especially just how exhausting it is to deal with microagressions. That was a term I kind of bristled at the first time I heard it, but Brown really made me understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end. This book also made me consider how I take my Black friends for granted by thinking that I can ask them whatever about racism without considering whether that is a role they really want.
This was an historical fictional account of a former aristocrat and an idealistic attorney caught up in the French Revolution. It was diverting enough but ultimately did not really have any staying power–it is already fading quickly from my mind.
This, on the other hand, was my favorite Booktober choice by far. On the one hand, it was a hard read because being poor in Brooklyn in 1912 was not joke. But the characters were so well-drawn, the setting so well-described, the stories so true that I did not want to put it down and I have been telling everyone how much I loved it.
Since the pandemic began, our family has been watching a lot of movies. Lockdown gave us the opportunity for uninterrupted marathon viewings in which we had long wished to indulge, such as watching every Harry Potter movie in succession. Having done this I was inspired to do what I had never done: read all the books in succession. Some of them I believe I had only read once. It was fun to read the earliest ones with foreknowledge. I love a well-planned series and it is fascinating to see the clues to the ending that are present from the very first book. The Order of the Phoenix is not a favorite but I liked it more after having just watched the movie, since the book is vastly superior.
The same is true of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I also read in October. I had forgotten a lot of the details and it almost felt like reading it for the first time.
Reading seven books in one month, some of them quite long, is no small accomplishment in my current busy life, especially considering that I also read a slew of online content.
I hope to report back at November’s end having read the last Harry Potter book, my book club’s selection for the month, and the pick from another online book club, at least.