Posted in Currently Reading, On Reading, Parenting, Reading Journal

The Consolations of Reading – After Election Day

We are witnessing history – whether it goes our way or not.

Opinions aside, I am here to record how my current reading selection has been changed by this event.

The campaign itself is an exciting novel. Maybe because of that, I suddenly lost interest in all the novels I was reading — not that fiction doesn’t provide comfort at such moments, but it’s just not for me now. Those books are being shelved or put aside for an early return to the library. However, for readers yearning for an escape with fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin recommended a blog post by Nancy Jane Moore.

In my mind, I’m imagining how I’d explain to Grace what happened to the world after she became part of it, but was still unable to participate or even understand it — be it Brexit, or this US election.

To be up for such a parenting duty, I have to first admit my lack of interest in politics until recent years — and the ignorance of it in many ways. The lesson is — I shall not bring up my daughter the same way my parents did in China. But in their defense, after experiencing the Cultural Revolution, the last thing they think I shall touch is politics…and the ignorance of it is considered a virtue…

So besides the news articles, it’s now time for more non-fiction such as history, economics, and philosophy, etc.

Let’s start from a read to help stay calm — I actually was thinking of this article when Alain De Botton reposted it on Twitter.

The Consolations of History (YouTube), the script to this film, and my takeaway:

… it is not fatal for societies to be in trouble; it is in fact usual for things to go rather badly. In this respect, reading ancient history generates the opposite emotions to scanning today’s news. Events have been much worse before and things were, in the end, OK. People behaving very badly is a normal state of affairs. There have always been existential threats to the human race and civilisation. It makes no sense, and is a form of twisted narcissism, to imagine that our era has any kind of monopoly on idiocy and disaster.

Perhaps we needn’t go far back to ancient history to generate such emotions. A half century ago is enough:

The 60s: The Story of a Decade by The New Yorker

  • As this is the third installment of a decade-by-decade series, The 50s and The 40s are also available as elder brother and sister.

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

  • This book is recommended by my husband. I’m looking forward to reading it — not because the author is a woman. 😛

In addition, my still-not-finished Alexander Hamilton, and How Will Capitalism End (on the way) are joining in.

An odd change of habit recently is my craving for physical books — perhaps the touch of paper is more comforting than E-readers? So a convenient re-read (a closer look) is an article from The New Yorker (Oct. 31, 2016) by George Packer.

We all want the world to be a better place for our children. But if the prospect is making us depressed, try to stay calm — and — make peace with it, make sense of it.



I start this wonderful journey as Grace's mother after finishing my Ph.D. in Accounting. Born and raised in China, I am now living in Canada. Twitter: @mamajreading

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