I always have trouble finding time to read at school. I am so consumed by my workload - by all the books I am reading for my thesis and my classes - that finding time to read for my own pleasure never works. Yet, this winter quarter, I resolved to try. So this is my thank-you note to the books who brightened my winter of 2017.
On the first day of the new year, I read Mohed Altrad's Badawi, and I quickly forgot my hangover as I was sucked into the world of the Bedouins. I have recently been drawn to works in translation for their effortless ability to transport me miles away from my own existence; being wrapped up in Altrad's sandy world lessened the stress of beginning winter term in snowy New Hampshire.
The first two weeks of term, John Le Carré's The Little Drummer Girl sat on my nightstand. Instead of scrolling through twitter before bed, I read a chapter or two. Yet again, I was swept up in a world that was not my own: full of spies and shifting allegiances. I am never one to read a book slowly, so to take my time with Le Carré felt weird. Yet, the pace of the novel - slowly unfolding at first, then rapidly at the end - fit my start to the term. Slow to get back to my routines, then suddenly it was like I had never left for break.
Then the inauguration rolled around and I read and re-read my dog-eared copy of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. My roommate gave it to me last winter, and since then, Kaur's words have become a salve to the political climate we find ourselves in. Even what she tweeted on January 21, 2017 - when women gathered around the nation - "we are powerful. brilliant. and taking no ones shit #WomensMarch" were the perfect words.
Suddenly, I lived in a world where Donald Trump was President. No fiction felt right. We were living in a dystopia led by a President who does not read. l turned to a book I had been meaning to read ever since I began writing my thesis on Jewish militancy in America: Dan Ephron's Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, which was a comprehensive look at Rabin's assassination. Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist. I kept thinking back to an article I read this summer comparing Trump's rise to the rise of the right following Rabin's assassination. The similarities are frightening.
As finals approached, my ability to read outside of my coursework plummeted. But I remain grateful to the authors who made my winter bearable. So, without further ado:
Thank you, Mohed Altrad, for your story of resilience and the boy who emerged out of the Syrian desert.
Thank you, John Le Carré, for whisking me into a world of espionage, and for letting me slowly enjoy a book.
Thank you, Rupi Kaur, for your words when I need them.
Thank you, Dan Ephron, for writing the best non-fiction book I have read in recent memory.