I’m not going to declare my surprise that it’s already May. I did that in the preceding months, and time only sped up incrementally each month, which is interesting because sometimes the days drag on interminably. But here we are—it’s May. The flowers are blooming, the baseball bats are swinging, I’m enjoying cool drinks out on the porch while Joan Didion hunts leaves in the grass, and, typically, I have a good book in my hand.
For some reason, I find myself reading more during the warmer months. Probably because I suffer from seasonal depression, so when it’s cold and dark, I end up staring into the distance trying to summon the willpower to make it from one day to the next.
But no matter. It’s reading season! And I have a few gems for your May TBR pile.
The May Books…
Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit
I’ve been reading this one for a while, and I really wanted to finish, so I bought a copy for a friend and suggested we do a read-along. I think she’s blown past me, and I’m still not quite halfway. But that’s not a reflection of this book. It’s me. I need to be in a particular mindset to read this book because it speaks so directly to me that I don’t want to miss anything.
I’ve been very interested lately in memoir, and this is a very powerful one. Solnit details her development from a young girl to a writer and feminist in a world that prefers women to be silent. It’s made me think a lot about my own growth as a person.
The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner
This is a fabulous collection of essays that spans twenty years, multiple continents, and various cultures (and subcultures). Each piece is like a different chocolate in the box, but without any of the gross ones that you leave for somebody else. The topics range from an unsanctioned motorcycle race to an ode to a deceased writer to a refugee camp and so much more.
I’m still reading this one, but it’s a true delight, so I’m not looking to race my way through it. Rather, I’m taking each piece one-by-one and thinking about it before moving on. However, I can definitely tell it’s a collection I’ll return to again and again.
Make Your Art No Matter What by Beth Pickens
This was a recommendation on Instagram, and I’m so glad I picked it up. The subtitle of the book is “Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles.” Each chapter tackles a different hurdle that artists face in making, prioritizing, and professionalizing their art.
It’s been pretty eye-opening for me as I consider my writing. Not all of the chapters have applied directly to me (naturally, the ones that don’t apply are less interesting than the ones that do), but they’ve all had great wisdom and have taken away the excuses we make to not create. I definitely need to re-read the chapter on priorities because that’s where I fall short. I continually say I need to do this and that before I can write, and by the time I’ve finished those things, I’m too worn out to write.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion
Ah, my Queen. This was her latest collection of essays spanning the 1960s to the early 2000s, and it covers a wide variety of topics from Gamblers Anonymous, to Hemingway, to Martha Stewart. This was another collection I nibbled at instead of devouring. Didion just has such a way of approaching a topic. I wish she would teach a master class on her approach.
Hawaii by James Michener
I have been reading this novel for many years. Initially, I was going to spend the spring working on finishing Moby Dick, but then I realized that I have 200 pages left, not 100 like I had been thinking and that was a huge bummer. So I shifted gears to Hawaii. I had 300 pages left of that, but those were a more enjoyable 300 pages than various chapters on marine biology. I digress…
I haven’t been reading much fiction lately. I’m not really sure why. But this book, which details the formation of Hawaii over the millennia, is a lot of fun to read. Michener is a master at weaving together multiple stories and cultures and adding those rich and nuanced details in a way that’s not totally overwhelming. At this point, I have just under 200 pages left, and that’s OK by me. Maybe next month I’ll be able to report that I finished.
Total Books Read in 2021: 10
I can say that I’ve already finished a couple of books this May, but you’ll have to come back in June to find out what they are. I’m devious like that.
Tell me in the comments below: What have you been reading?
Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA. Though she’s fallen off the wagon as a writer, she’s hoping to return to writing essays (perhaps even a novel!) through her involvement with DIY MFA. She is also Launch Manager and Podcast Producer for DIY MFA and a Book Coach. She resides in Smalltown, Oklahoma, with her husband and their cat, Joan Didion. You can follow her on Instagram at @LoriTheWriter and on Twitter at @Lori_the_Writer.