Even without the bloated, triple-chinned specter of Donald Trump casting a pall over the land, it would be grim. Not as grim, but grim nevertheless. Autumn, in case you haven’t heard, was pronounced dead this morning at 5:44 am Eastern Standard Time. It, too, was a victim of winter.
Today is the winter solstice, a poetic term meaning the shortest day of the year. The sun, you see, has reached its southernmost position in the sky, where it may seem to pause for days before it begins the march northward. Therefore, do not abandon hope. We’re finally heading toward brighter, longer days.
Spring will come. Flowers will bloom. Birds will sing. The everyday pleasures of life will again burst forth. Simply hunker down and wait out this joyless stretch of gloom. A book, or fifty, can erase the misery of outside. And you don’t even have to pack or go through airport security. Just sit down, open it, and off you go. To adventures or romance or knowledge or a laugh, books are magical transportation for the mind.
May I suggest a few for your Christmas list? I’m going to, anyway.
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie — I adore this book, for whatever that’s worth, and really resent the author. She’s everything I’d like to be: unique, funny, unpredictable, smart, and cheerfully batty. Squirrels play an important role and how can anyone not like a book that considers squirrels relevant to a happy life? They can’t. This is a story of family, insecurities, romance, self-confidence, friendship, medical research gone awry, and all out wonderful.
The Nix by Nathan Hill — coming in at 600+ pages the New York Times describes The Nix as ‘the love child of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace.’ Politics, a failed writer, a bad mother, threats, cable news, this is a huge, sprawling, funny book of wondrous, and somehow familiar, misadventures.
Evicted by Matthew Desmond — examines the rippling impact of eviction on the lives of the poor and struggling, as well as the tactics and motives of landlords. In practice, eviction is becoming more common as rents climb and hope falls by the wayside. Hailed by critics and readers alike.
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli — this short volume of essays outsold Fifty Shades of Gray in Italy. That’s how good it is. Rovelli is a theoretical physicist with an engaging narrative style. He explained the cosmos and quantum mechanics in less than a hundred pages and blew my little mind in the process.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch — a quantum physicist gets bopped on the head, kidnapped by himself (a version from a parallel universe), and has his future stolen by said traveler. Thus a desperate, tricky adventure to track himself down begins. It’s, you know, science fiction. But very entertaining.
And there you have it. Ask Santa to drop a couple of those down the chimney or take a trip to a library or bookstore near you. Then settle in for a long winter’s voyage — without the bother of leaving home. Or facing the harsh reality of winter. Happy reading!
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