There are many things I dislike about the festive season. The enforced cheer, the chirpy Christmas carols, the crowded shopping malls, the rampant consumerism...heck, even traffic jams seem somehow worse this time of year, when the sun is at full blast and feels like fire on your skin through the windscreen.
BUT, I still have a blog post to write, like it or not.
So I thought what might be quite lovely to do (said in a very English lady-of-the-manor upper crusty accent), is to name a random list of reading gratitudes. These are the things that make me thankful to be a reader and writer, and that makes reading such a pleasure.
Here goes. I am thankful for...
Small, independent publishers that do good work
There are far fewer of them these days, but in NZ alone, there is Awa Press, Victoria University Press, Auckland University Press, Steam Press, Cape Catley, Craig Potton, Exisle Publishing, etc (I hope none of them has shut down in the time it takes for this to go live). The world of creative writing, I fear, will be smaller and colder without them. Long may they keep the torch burning and continue to nurture budding young writers.
Fearless female authors
Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ruth L Ozeki, Maya Angelou, Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, countless more. You don't have to be a woman to understand and appreciate female writers, of course. In a way, their experiences are both unique and universal. That is, they write from a female point of view, but about our shared human condition, which is what makes them fearless.
A reader and writer's best friend. Cats are the perfect reading companions. Quiet, insouciant, with a high tolerance for the practice of sitting around doing nothing. They keep your feet, lap and heart warm and despite their irritating, almost-psychic ability of breaking your concentration with demands for attention at crucial plot points...I can't think of a reading life without them. I am however, contemplating upgrading my moggie to a hypoallergenic edition once she has passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. Anyone have a natural (cheap) remedy for cat allergy that doesn't require bathing said cat (a.k.a suicide), or constant brushing?
Time to read
I am very lucky, really, to be able to spend long stretches of time reading. Many of my friends have other commitments - either jobs that virtually take over their entire lives, or kids that suck up all their spare time. I am grateful to have work that has mostly manageable hours, and enough spare time that I can read. Finding the time to write, however, is another matter.
A wide variety of genres
Though I hugely enjoy literary novels - as a former English major, it would be hard not to - I also love speculative fiction, fantasy, young adult, horror, historical, a little bit of romance, occasionally erotica, the odd bit of well-written psychological thriller, memoir and other non-fiction. I hate elitism in literature, and as I've mentioned before, it's books like Fifty Shades that will save reading for generations to come. I also don't care what the kids are reading, as long as they read something. Taste can be developed later, but you need to have something to foster in the first place.
This blog and its community of readers
A little cheesy, yes, but meh. The people who follow and comment on my posts and strike up lively discussion and debate (and even the trolls). It's incredibly hard to so passionately love to read and write and know that it's what you're meant to do in life, yet be unable to parlay that into a full-time, paying career. This blog gives me room to breathe, think and just be me. And realise that there are others who are just as insane out there.
What are your reading gratitudes for the year?