Sunday Salon: Soothing a Stagnant Spirit

Such a week it’s been. From my son in the ER on Monday, which fortunately turned out to be too much Spring Break for just one boy; to report cards, comment cards, profiles of progress all due Wednesday, and a myriad of other appointments and pieces of bureaucracy in between, I woke up exhausted today. Exhausted and sad.

Sometimes life’s obligations wear me out.

Authority and governance have made me feel compelled to obey though I’ve never liked being told what to.

I’d much rather chart my own course, which basically means sit in my chair and read. Admittedly, that’s not a very dangerous course. But, it is filled with drama in its own way. Reading the books as I have for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize at breakneck speed (although when compared to the other Jury members clocks in at a snail’s pace), has been hugely rewarding. I feel I have been to Berlin, to Austria, to Colombia, to Korea and Japan. And I have been there with fellow bibliophiles by my side.

Circling The SunJust last night, I read half of Paula McLain’s latest book, Circling The Sun. It is about Beryl Markham, of West With The Night fame, of her relationship with Karen and Denys of Out of Africa fame. I cannot put it down.

So these things cheer me up: books (most excellently written), adventures (albeit taken vicariously), love triangles (that aren’t mine). They assuage the bitterness of my soul from weeks like this, and soothe a stagnant  spirit.

20 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Soothing a Stagnant Spirit”

  1. “All Day” ~ Lyubomir Nikolov

    All day I’ve shaken nuts down. No hands
    left now to beat another branch.
    And so I watch how, lighter than a feather,
    a yellowed leaf is spinning in the air.
    It spins, it waves about, it trembles
    under the sun, drunken with happiness.
    My withered leaf, how slowly you are falling,
    how slowly you are falling,
    how slowly falling.

    Trans: Ewald Osers


  2. Sorry your week has been not what you hoped. I was a child who was compliant – always – but I also was quiet and in the corner reading a book. My mother used to say that I was so easy because she always knew where she’d find me. 🙂

    Also, glad to hear that the Circling the Sun is good. I am so excited to read it. Such a lovely cover and I’m very interested in the storyline. Here’s hoping that your week will be better and filled with joy in unexpected places. Hugs.


    1. Kay, I was often secluded somewhere as well with a book in my hand. Circling the Sun is just as wonderful as anyone who loved The Paris Wife would hope. Sometimes another book by the same author is disappointing, but this one is not. I am completely absorbed in Beryl’s life, and I will write a post in a day or so.


  3. The power of books to carry the day.
    I’m reading again HowTo Read Book , How to Get a Liberal Education by Mortimer Adler, the original book before the revised edition.

    Thursday Next gets lost inside a book (by Jasper Fforde).


    1. A friend of mine gave me How To Read A Book, which I thought at the time rather redundant. Yet it is probably worth the time, as I respect Adler very much. But I love how you say, “The power of books to carry the day.” Indeed!


    2. Hello,

      We are a not-for-profit educational organization founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery—three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos—lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

      Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading on one DVD. A must for all readers, libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

      I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are—we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

      Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

      ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

      Thank you,

      Max Weismann, Co-founder with Dr. Adler


  4. How beautiful the Nikolov poem posted by Parrish Lantern, so consoling. I agree with you about chilhood. It’s not necessarily any fault of parents, it’s the boredom and powerlessness. Thank God for reading.


    1. Parrish Lantern has a knack for the right poem at the right time; I’m not quite sure how he does it other than being the most knowledgeable poem expert I know.

      I hope my post wasn’t accusatory of parents; it was meant more accusatory of myself for always being so serious, for all to often being resentful of rules. And worst of all, for me, is feeling powerless. I don’t know how to change the chore my job has become. Once beloved, it is now all I can do to drag myself there every week, and I dare not let that reflect on the children in my classroom. It’s most certainly not their fault that bureaucracy has ruined everything by its encroachment.

      Thank God for reading.


  5. I hope the next week is kinder. A very different matter with my son started my week in a very sad and lonely space, but books are remarkable to anchor you and bring you back. My only problem is that after the intensive marathon of the IFFP I am a bit scattered, reading about three books at once, a couple from the BTBA list and an English language novel from South Africa (my other obsession) for a treat.


    1. I am sorry to hear of a sad and lonely space regarding your son. I’ve found that some weeks (years) are like that. My son is 24, and if I could sweep a wand over him for his comfort and joy and direction I would do just that. As it is, I fall on my knees in prayer every day.

      I know what you mean when you say the intensive marathon of the IFFP; that is how I felt last year. This year I vowed to read what I could when I could, and consequently read only a little more than half of the long list. But I will read all of the short list, and I content myself with that.

      You say your other passion is a novel from South Africa, how interesting. My other passion is novels from Japan. Or, Russia. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean re bureaucracy. Drives a person absolutely mad and so much of it unnecessary. I’m glad you can get solace for books. Books are the first thing I dive into when I have had enough of the mad world. Things usually get better over a few days. Life is such a cycle isn’t it. A real roller coaster. Take care of yourself.


  7. “All Day” is a wonderful, and wonderfully soothing poem, and it was kind of PL to leave that for you. When things seem out of control, a book is often a good antidote. I hope this week will be more to your liking, Bellezza.


  8. Dear friend, I hope this week is less stressful for you. Sometimes too much does make one rather weary. I’m glad books can work their magic and alleviate some of the pressure 🙂 I have that Maclain book on my radar and just downloaded it off NetGalley – can’t wait to read it now! Hope this week is turning out to be a good one for you. xoxo


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