What comfort are you finding in these challenging times? Books are high on my list, as always, along with family, the chance for meaningful work, and the ongoing quest to understand our amazing, complex world. Here’s a survey of what’s come my way this month.
I really enjoyed participating fully in Nonfiction November this year. Before I started blogging I didn’t read much nonfiction, beyond the occasional biography or history book. But now it’s almost half of my total reading and there are so many books that I want to read, I could imagine the proportion being even higher. I do still tend towards books that are high on storytelling (memoirs, biographies, history, and psychology told through case histories), which satisfies my narrative drive quite well. I don’t think I’d ever give up fiction completely, but I can now understand those who do read exclusively nonfiction — there are so many fascinating stories to tell about our world.
Here are my posts from the month, along with the other books I read.
- My Year in Nonfiction
- Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairings
- Be the Expert: Books about trauma and recovery
- Review: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
- Throwback Thursday: Dark Money
- Make me read it: Science nonfiction edition
- Discussion: Will extended reality replace reading?
- New to my TBR
Other books read:
- The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett – Reread
- The Silver Crown by Robert C. O’Brien – Reread
- The Robber Girl by Franny Billingsley
- Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Reread
- Sources of Religious Worship by Bastiaan Baan
- The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud – Around the World
- A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park – Around the World
- The Gift by Edith Eger
I realized that I’ve made some appreciable steps in my language learning when I looked at my experience two years ago doing parent volunteer work at the holiday bazaar at my son’s school, compared to this year. Back then, I was terrified to sign up for any shift where I’d have to talk to people or have any kind of responsibility. This time, it was all one to me what I did; I ended up rolling pizza dough with another parent and having a nice chat with her in German.
I still have to ask people to speak standard German instead of Swiss German, because while I sort of understand the latter, it sounds quite garbled to me and my comprehension is spotty. Everyone seems to speak a slightly different version of the dialect, too, so some people are easier to understand than others — I’m used to how my husband and his family speak now, but can still get thrown when talking to strangers. Anyway, it’s good to feel I can communicate with most folks in some fashion and not be afraid to meet people, ask questions, or try to answer theirs.
This month I finally made the decision to leave Facebook. I’ve been using the social media platform for years, and appreciated many things about it — but the disadvantages started to outweigh those advantages for me. And so far I do not miss it at all. Blogging is enough social media for me.
We’ve had our first snow, when then soon turned to drizzly rain and slippery slush. It’s time to turn inward and find what warmth we can in our protected spaces — or gear up to face the wintry world.
At the community for special needs adults where I work, there’s a slot each week for someone to talk about a topic requested by the residents. As the only American working there, it was natural for me to volunteer to present the topic of “America.” I decided to tell about the places I know from my own life, which range from the west coast to the midwest to the East Coast, and give a sense of the vastness and diversity of this remarkable land. I ended with a description of my favorite American holiday. Thanksgiving — which has the potential to unite humans in a non-sectarian, non-commercial practice of gratitude, something we can all share. Even though we don’t celebrate with a big turkey dinner here, I still mark the time with an increased sense of what I owe to the world and the people around me. That’s a tradition I never want to lose.
How was your November? Did you try anything new, or let something old go? What are you grateful for?