What We're Reading, Vol. 1
Reading, we learn from a young age, is a window into other worlds. It’s a way to build and indulge imagination and a way to expand the mind. It is, however, also a way to delve deeper into our world, to learn more about the lives of our contemporaries. Whether we read fiction or not, the written word allows us to strive towards empathy in an apathetic world. We need to constantly remember what it is to be at our most human, whether we’re reading about fundamentalist Christian groups bombing abortion clinics (still reeling after The Incendiaries), attempts to sleep for a year, or young adult romance. It can be just as curative in its properties as it can be disturbing.
Reading is also a way of staying connected not only with the world but with each other. We here at the Attic came together over many causes over the years, but one of our first attempts at forming an “official” presence online was to read together, each picking up a copy of Little Women. Whether we’re reading the same book (how many of us have picked up Florida or My Year of Rest and Relaxation this summer?), we tend to message each other about our reads, eager to share and vent and discuss. Now that we’re all back to our different corners of the world, it only seems appropriate to for us to formally come together over books once more. Once a month, we’ll share what it is we’re reading.
Now I’m starting my third year at university my reading had dropped back in to the rhythms of weekly reading lists and academic papers. My bedside table is peppered with Old English translations and early modern dramatic texts. However, my summer of reading ended with a lovely collection of creepy, ghoulish, and autumnal short stories called The October Country by Ray Bradbury. I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone that is longing for some pre-Halloween season flights of the occult and arcane.
My current read is The Recovering by Leslie Jamison, which is a blunt, unrelenting account of the author’s alcoholism. Now sober, Jamison recalls with intense detail how alcohol blurred the edges of her life as a grad student, a writer, and a woman. Especially poignant is the combination of dating and alcohol for Jamison: “Booze promised relief from the default state of needing something from men. It was an object I could always make available. But when it broke these promises, again and again, it also sharpened the need that made me crave it in the first place.”
I’m currently making my way through all of Lauren Groff’s books after going to her Florida signing and liking her as much as I thought I would in person (and more). After I finished Florida, I read The Monsters of Templeton, which I highly recommend. I have a deep love of my hometown and it’s clear that Groff loves hers and the mythology surrounding hers (real-life and mythical). Next up is her Delicate Edible Birds, which is a collection of stories, like Florida.
I also just finished a little slip of a puzzle-like book called The Westing Game. It’s a very popular book among younger kids but I had never heard of it (it’s from 1978). It was a quick and delightful little read. I’d recommend it if you never have time to read. You can read this in a couple of hours and feel accomplished and like you did something.
There are so many things that I want to be reading right now, but I’ve just started Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends (whilst despairing at its current UK cover) and would be tearing through it if it weren’t for my anxiety. Still, it’s everything I thought it would be – witty, crisp, and oh so relatable. I’m also slowly making my way through Siri Hustvedt’s A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, which I’m not loving but am very interested in reading.
I like to frequent the local bookshops on holiday and thanks to multiple trips this summer I’ve got quite the TBR stack accumulating. The Ensemble, Social Creature, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and more are all waiting for me not so patiently. Naturally, I’ve neglected all of these for a long-anticipated library hold which has just come through; Naomi Alderman’s The Power perfectly twists my fascination at natural phenomena with an ever-enticing feminist revolution, where women finally take control and men can do nothing about it. It’s rare for dystopia to pull me in, but every moment I’m not reading I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.
I have just purchased a copy of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I enjoy a good, romantic book once in a while, and I feel this book is going to be the perfect balance to my darker academic interests. I have recently watched the Netflix adaptation with my two best girls Olivia and Raquel and have been obsessed ever since. I am only on chapter one, but I love the simple prose and registry – it’s refreshing after having spent so long pouring over academic articles. I’ll let you all know my thoughts about it once I’ve read it all!