Beating January

Ten years ago I was in the first months of my year of reading a book a day. And for the first time in years, I did not suffer the January doldrums that I had dragged myself through in previous years. With the help of books, I beat January.

On this day ten years ago, I read Love Walked In By Marisa De Los Santos — and the next day I wrote my review, revealing that, basically, I hated the book. But I read it because a good friend had given it to me to read, and in giving it to me, she had opened herself up to me, and in doing so, she had willingly revealed her own desires and interests.

Although I hated the book she had loaned to me, the book reminded me, in a kind of reflection of opposites, of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, which is a book I LOVE. We walk together often, that friend and I, and in our walks together we talk about the books she likes, and the books I like, and although we choose different books, in talking about the books we like, we realized that we both find in our books what it is that we need to keep going in our lives, whether it be escape or inspiration or comfort.

How is it that I find what I need in what I read, at the moment I need it? I have no answer to that question except that it is so. The universe, in all its wonder, has provided for me, with all the books in the world, just what I need. I only have to look.

For all of us, I believe that life has a way of offering up unexpected nuggets of comfort, in the least expected of places. For me, those places have almost always been books.

Like just like week, when after suffering through two hours of traffic court, I found myself next door to a library. Of course I walked in! And greeting me, front and center, were shelves of new books to read. I perused, I chose, I checked out my books (grateful for my Connecticut library card). Three books: a new thriller titled Something in the Water, a novel with a pool on the cover (I am a swimmer), and the debut novel everyone is talking about, There, There by Tommy Orange.

In the quiet book, a lovely little novel titled The Lido by Libby Page, I discovered Brixton, a neighborhood in London, and a charming variety of characters who call Brixton home. A local swimming pool is threatened with closure due to falling revenue and its impending demise brings the community together in an effort to fight off the inevitable.

The inevitable seems to be what I am always fighting against, and so I read The Lido with interest, and found myself immersed, not only in the cool waters of the pool (those English are tough cookies, swimming in unheated pools March through October!), but in the individual stories of hardship and endurance, of new friendships and lasting loves — and I came away feeling satisfied, happy, and even inspired to jump into my local (heated and indoor) pool.

So yes, I can beat January. With the help the unexpected joys which I know wait for me in the pages of a book, in walks with friends, in jumping into a pool and letting myself sink — and then swim.