Updated: Apr 5
I was going to write about my favorite books of last year. I wrote a post with ten favorites, but there were so many other good books that I read last year. But, here we are. I'm writing this late because of a minor sickness and being distracted by the trauma my country's been through. I feel like I've done next to nothing but scroll through Twitter and read the news.
Life has been hard. For nearly a year now. I know that other people have said it before, but I'm struck with how useful and beautiful books are. It’s so amazing to be able to dip into a story and have a little break. It’s a comfort to be reminded of better times, or of people, real of fictional, who’ve gone through their own hardships.
Besides being a solace, book help us to learn to see the world through other eyes. In the US, we seem to have a problem of not being able to sympathize with anyone not like ourselves. Do readers have ever have this problem? I suppose so, but I suspect much less often than non-readers. We have the advantage of having regularly looked into other peoples' stories and viewpoints.
Before this year, I never would have thought that I'd have any trouble with understanding other groups of people, even ones that I don't agree with, but it's happening. I’m a believer in epidemiologists and a mask-wearer, and I haven't been in a restaurant since last March, and I just cannot understand the people who are adamantly on the other side. I'm not hoping to learn to agree with them, but I hate feeling so angry. Whenever I think of how hard it must be to work with or near the sick, how afraid members of vulnerable populations must be, how many have died, the rage is overwhelming. I can usually see the other side, but this is beyond me.
I don't have an answer for this. Maybe rage is as much a part of a pandemic as fear. I've got both in spades. I'm praying to feel less angry, and sticking with my books. A few days ago, when I was ill and tired and feeling demoralized, I wanted to sit with a book in print- something short and fairly easy. I remembered that I had an Agatha Christie on the shelf, and it was just what I needed. Short, set in another time and country, and mysteries aren't hard for me because I don't even try to figure them out anymore. I never can, so I just sit back and enjoy.
In Agatha Christie's books, characters are often "typed" by other characters, usually based on class. "Women of that class always (fill in the blank)". But the characters who think they have everyone figured out often find out that their assumptions are wrong. This weekend, I read Crooked House. Even though I didn't really identify with the main characters, they wanted the truth and fairness, and I get that. Even when they had what looked like an easy out handed to them, they still wanted to know and face the truth. So, even though I picked an "easy" book, to read simply for pleasure, there was a lesson in it.
And until this cruel pandemic is over, I can sympathize with the sick, the bereaved, and the exhausted, and that's something, I think, that I got from books.
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