"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable." / Madeleine L'engle
I've tried to start this post a couple dozen times. 2017 is a hard year to put into words, to fully wrap my head around. There was so much good, but there was also so, so much pain. I wanted to write about all that good: how I married my best friend, how I started a new job in a new field, how I’ve learned so much about myself during a difficult year in therapy, how I attended the Women’s March in D.C. and felt connected to so many beautiful people. But, sometimes it’s hard to find light in the darkness.
2017 was the first year I realized I had something to fear because of the color of my skin. It’s the year I doubted myself all the way from code school to my first developer job. It’s the year I faced some hard truths about my past and realized what that means for my today. It’s the year therapy forced me to stop avoiding my feelings, and therefore, it was a year of lots of sadness and anxiety and depression.
This has been a year of acceptance. First and foremost, acceptance of depression not only as a legitimate illness, but as my reality. Being an invisible illness, it's difficult to not feel like a fraud - especially when you're open about it in a public space. It’s something I’ve avoided for a long time, and full acceptance has been hard, but it’s also been freeing.
I think a lot of us have also had to accept the reality of our new administration. It's a huge pill to swallow, but it's snapped a lot of us out of complacency. For me, mourning led to anger, which led to acceptance and finally action. I saw a rally sign that said, "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." I wish it didn't take DJT coming into office for that to hit home for so many of us. After the election, I got a tattoo on my wrist as a promise to myself: I will no longer be complacent.
It's snowing as I write this. I find comfort in precipitation. It feels like the earth's offering of an embrace. If this year has taught me anything, it's that I don't have to avoid the painful things. There's power in acceptance.
In response to my personal life, my reading life has changed, as well. It’s felt like a natural progression. I spent a lot of time this year feeling guilty for my lack of reading (or sometimes, for time "wasted" reading - as mentioned here). I think it’s a process a lot of bloggers go through once the “honeymoon phase” wears off.
As such, I’ve learned the importance of forgiving myself if I go a day or five without reading or posting on instagram. It’s a strange thing how these guilt complexes come to be. At what point does it go from being a hobby to an obligation? What exactly are we scared of when we apologize for “being MIA” or “not having time to read”? Isn’t that just being human?
So, I’ve tried to go back to what makes reading enjoyable for me. I’ve put some reviews on hold and I’ve put down some books that felt like work to pick up. I’m reading what I feel like reading in the moment - and it’s absurd that this feels like a revelation to me.
Now here we are, back at acceptance. Sometimes I won’t have time to read every night, sometimes I won’t be able to post in IG for weeks at a time, sometimes I won’t get to the book I requested from a publisher until after it is released. And that’s okay.
Reading doesn’t have to revolve around documenting. I love having a public record of the stories I’ve read and lived in. I love taking notes about how a book made me feel in the moments after I’m coming down from a post-book high. But. Reading happens whether or not I take a photo of it. And sometimes that sort of reading is necessary: the type of reading done without pressure to articulate. It's a balance I strive to work towards in 2018.
All that being said, I did a lot of amazing reading in 2017. In total, I read 66 books. 16 of those books got a full 5/5 rating. Reading more books by women and poc was a huge priority for me this year (of the 66 books read, 50 were by women!). I'd like to plan some concrete reading goals for 2018, but for now, here are 10 of my favorite books read this year.
10. Oola - Brittany Newell
9. All The Ugly and Wonderful Things - Bryn Greenwood
8. Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller
7. In Order to Live - Yeonmi Park
6. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter - Scaachi Koul
5. Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. Shelter - Jung Yun
3. The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah (Forthcoming, Feb 2018)
2. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
1. Hunger - Roxane Gay
As always, thank you for hanging around this space and for the unending support. Thank you for giving me this room to grow and change. This community is unlike any other on the internet, and I am so thankful for that. Here's to another great year of reading and acceptance. <3