Last Week’s Reading #2: Bank Holiday Edition

It’s Easter Monday today for people who celebrate it. I’m secular, so this is really a spring holiday for me, a chance to usher in the early spring, the change of season, and of course indulge in some chocolate. Small pleasures help. There is joy in blue skies, bright pops of spring flowers, and plants coming to life. Today it’s a little overcast with some sunny spells, and a fresh, bright wind which the cat is definitely not enjoying!

By Ornella Binni, Unsplash.

This week has been horrifying in terms of news. People have lost their loved ones. We are all struggling to make sense of the grief and anger we might feel. The UK is heading for a disaster in terms of death and illness. And I don’t think life will be the same as it was before. We will have to create a new ‘normal’, a new way of being. Maybe that can be a good thing. It will need adaptation and thoughtfulness. What is worth keeping, and what don’t we need? How can we support people who need it? How can we make our society fairer and rethink our reliance on capitalism? What can we do to make community spirit a lasting thing?

I haven’t read as much as I did the week before. Maybe because I’ve been trying to be more present, even if that has still been a struggle. It’s okay not to be okay, that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s okay to not know what ‘normal’ is right now. Because none of this is normal. So looking after ourselves, our community, loved ones (whether in person or from a distance), is the most important thing. Survival, and kindness.

  1. Coronavirus Crisis Has Transformed Our View Of What’s Important – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian. Excerpt: ‘But our public life has also been stripped to its essentials. We’ve come to see what’s indispensable and what is not.’
  2. Comforting Illustrations – Flow Magazine. Excerpt: ‘The illustrations that we have come across in recent days have given us such a wonderful feeling of hope and comfort. And we gathered some, so we can turn to them whenever we need a boost.’
  3. Prepare For The Ultimate Gaslighting – Julio Vincent Gambuto, Forge at Medium. Excerpt: ‘From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.’
  4. Why Do Cats Love Bookstores? – LitHub (2016), Jason Diamond. Excerpt: ‘If a bookstore is so fortunate as to have a cat on the premises during operating hours, you can bet that feline is co-owner, manager, security, and the abiding conscience of the place. You go to a bookstore to buy a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates or the latest Kelly Link collection, but you’re really paying a tribute to the cat, whether you know it or not.’
  5. 30 Most Influential Women Artists Alive Today – Graphic Design Degree Hub. A list of women artists, designers, photographers and illustrators (found when researching for a Twitter discussion).
  6. Quarantine Reads – A list of books that don’t require too much brainpower (!) but are still compelling!
  7. This Day: Astrid on Vulnerability – Flow Magazine. Excerpt: ‘But there is another side. Namely that no matter how unreal the situation is, the conversations that we suddenly have with each other are so genuine and honest. Regardless of whether it’s via Zoom, on social media, or from a meter-and-a-half away: everyone drops their shield.’
  8. As A Doctor I Have To Speak Out: Johnson Has Contributed To Thousands of Deaths – Andrew Meyerson, The Guardian. Excerpt: ‘After nine years of gross negligence, nine years of lecturing the British people about how the “one nation” Conservative party is the choice to make the NHS safer, more efficient and more productive, we’ve seen what Tory governments have accomplished: the worst A&E waiting times in NHS history and people dying in corridors in the fifth richest country on Earth.’
  9. How To Support Your Favourite Independent Bookshops Online During the Coronavirus Crisis – Alden Wynn, Stylist Online. Excerpt: ‘Many independent booksellers take orders online or over the phone, and will deliver across the UK. So if you wanted to buy the latest Hilary Mantel novel or fancy finding something completely different to read, maybe consider popping over to one of these shop’s online sites to put in your order.’
  10. The Exquisite Pain of Reading in Quarantine – Connor Goodwin, The Atlantic. Excerpt: ‘Reading as a way of coping has a long history in the U.S. During World War I, librarians were stationed at military camps and hospitals to dispense books to soldiers. For those in camps, books alleviated homesickness and staved off boredom. For those in hospitals, books aided their convalescence and assuaged acute distress.’

I hope this week ahead is kind to us all, and that we are kind to ourselves. Remember that this is still temporary, even if it does have far reaching effects for the future. Humans are resilient and adaptable. For every bad thing, there is a beautiful, hopeful thing. Take comfort in the small, everyday things, in the love we show to other people and ourselves.

‘Grief and resilience live together.’ – Michelle Obama, Becoming.

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