January was a long, exhausting month that dragged by with twelve hour-days, not enough sleep, and an unending list of responsibilities. Though I was excited to begin 2017, the year I’ll start the next chapter of my life as someone’s wife, these past 31 days were a challenging beginning to an important year. Between the Writer’s Conference I help coordinate each year, frustrating changes to our school‘s discipline system that made behaviors and consequences confusing and aggravating, and finally getting into the nitty gritty chores of our wedding, I was run ragged and reading at an irritatingly slow pace. There were definitely some high points to the month; my fiancé finally got a call back from the fire department he’s hoped to build a career with (and even though his academy will coincide with a lot of key wedding planning details, it’s a big win), we got beautiful engagement pictures taken–a preview featured above, and I bought a wedding dress. It was undoubtedly 31 busy, jam-packed days!
During this time, I slogged through The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Incarnations, two books I enjoyed but ones I had a hard time finding uninterrupted, distraction-free time to sit down and read.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the first book I read in 2017 which also lasted me through the first week back at school, explored the nature of adultery, love, independence, fulfillment, and sexuality. While I enjoyed this short and unique story, I honestly felt like I wasn’t smart enough to understand the perplexities of this book. Maybe I was two scatter-brained trying to adjust back to a school schedule in addition to managing the writer’s conference appointments, or maybe the philosophies behind infidelity just escape me entirely. There’s no way to be sure. Despite the fact that I feel like I only scratched the surface of this novel, I still enjoyed its self-damning and passionate characters struggling in a scary world. Adultery is not usually a topic I enjoy in my fiction, but Kundera approached it in a way that felt sad and complicated, rather than frivolous and impulsive, which my newly-engaged self appreciated.
Next, I spent the majority of the month visiting China with The Incarnations. I dragged that book with me to countless appointments (nails, car maintenance, dentist, etc.), to San Diego, and to bed for three weeks, and even though I enjoyed the story, I read at a painfully slow pace. My fiancé, who has been working on Stephen King’s lengthy Dark Tower series, finished his 800-page book in about the same timeframe.
Regardless, Barker took on a complex topic–reincarnation–and wound a pretty excellent story around two spirits who are connected throughout centuries of Chinese history. I loved the historical context of this novel–I know next to nothing about Maoist China, so that was super interesting–and the destructive love these two characters have for each other was painful and compelling. I finished the last 70 pages of the book in one sitting–partially because January was winding up but partially because the last part where each lifetime is tied together with precise and surprising details was totally amazing. I didn’t connect with these characters a whole lot either, but as I’m trying to push myself to write more (not just this blog, but also a fictional novel I’ve been toying around with) it’s always helpful and inspiring to delve into some incredible literature.
February is a short month, and it will entail schoolwork (as always), even more wedding planning (why is finding a photographer and DJ so expensive and complicated?!), my two-year anniversary with my fiancé (and our last time celebrating in February before we trade it in for a July anniversary!), and some attempts to eat healthier now that my form-fitting wedding gown is on the way. I’m hoping I’ll have some increased motivation (and brain capacity) to squeeze in a few more pages than I managed this past month. #HereGoesNothing!