Sunday, December 11, 2016

2017 Reading Plans

2016, for a variety of personal and very public reasons, has been the worst year of my life.  Total.  Suckfest.

Until last month, I had held out hope that at least we would have elected the first female president in American History; at the very least, the American people would have the good sense to reject homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny, right?-- NOPE!  Instead of a grand, historic moment, to top off this brutal election year we got Cheeto Mussolini and his cabinet of Batman Villians.

I have never had a period in my life where I felt more adrift and afraid of what is to come then I do right now.  Even during the Great Recession, when I was laid off from my first teaching job (along with hundreds of other teachers in my District), I was optimistic that Obama's planned infrastructure spending would reboot the economy (it did) and that I would find gainful full-time employment not long after (I did).  Now, we don't have hope or change, we have a Kremlin-backed fascist Oompa Loompa.

Throughout this difficult time (understatement), I have been exercising self-care in familiar ways: by reading and drinking tea.  A few days ago, as I began to emerge from my month-long Xanex haze, it occurred to me that, in addition to calling and writing letters to my Senators, I could resist the fascist takeover of my country by "staying woke" and by embracing what I love and what has been lost.  In turn, I realized I could do both of these things bookishly and share them on my blog.  So, in 2017, I am going to be working on two reading projects: the "Stay Woke Project" and the "Bowie 100."

For the "Stay Woke Project," I am committing myself to read at least one work (fiction or non-fiction) by an author of color, or by an author from a marginalized community under threat by the incoming regime.  I want to stay informed through "own voices" literature and be an active, participatory ally.  I want to learn, I want to understand the world through eyes other than my own.  If you want to "stay woke," you have to work on it-- read, inform yourself, check your privilege, and interrogate your own micro-aggressions-- and I am committing myself to do just that.

My second project, the "Bowie 100," is based on a list of David Bowie's 100 favorite books that was originally compiled by a Canadian art gallery that ran an exhibit on the late music icon.  Soon after his death in January, The Telegraph reprinted the list in an article about Bowie's life as a reader.  In the coming year, I plan to read at least one book from the list in an effort to share an experience with one of my all-time favorite musical artists and to broaden my own literary horizons.  Who better to expand one's world view than a beloved iconoclast?

At the very least, these two literary projects will provide me some comfort in the difficult months to come; at best, this project will give my agitation greater context and give me hope when the fight inevitably becomes more difficult.

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