A Book A Month: Winter Ways

Every winter, as a way to balance the scales of shopping, lights, 7 foot trees, things to do, and what not to do, I dive deep in a new book. It’s a habit I began a few years ago, when dealing with the come-down after Christmas and the kids usually being with their grandparents, coupled with an intentional seasonal work hiatus of my very own. The time between Christmas and the new year seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to devour something I’ve had on my nightstand for way too long. 

I wouldn’t just pick up a book at night. I would wake and quaff sentence after sentence along with my coffee. At lunch, I would barely look up from my bench and my favorite bagel, as my beloved friend. And at dinner, I would sit at the same spot at the bar of a restaurant and whisper paragraphs over addictive 90s tunes. The frame of why I did this was pretty limited at first; I wanted to not be so lonely. But as I’ve picked up my deep-dive book commitment sooner than I usually do, I realize it is just a slow way to make sure I connect with myself in what already feels like a gloomy and long winter. 

Earlier today, my friend Aja pointed out that she was feeling seasonal depression a bit earlier this year, and it felt like a reflection of of what many may already be slightly experiencing,

“Generally it hits in February but with everything going on, it seems to be firmly anchoring itself to me before even the holidays. It’s harder to get out of bed, harder to sleep and harder to do simple things like return emails. Which is why I’ll be taking a pretty firm break from the 16th on from any obligation at all. I’ll check in but responses to email and messages will be few and far between.

Add in that I’m flying for the first time in two years (anyone else hates flying, where my people at) and I’m like a dog who realizes it’s not a fun car ride I’m going on, but instead a vet visit!! 

(My friend’s dog used to pace nervously when they reached a certain road because she knew what was up.)

Anyway luckily I’m seeing THESE TWO today and I just want to encourage you to find friendships that feel comfortable and easy and one where your friends will understand that you’re running late because sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed and it’s not just general life fatigue.”

Like Aja, other than reading, I’ve been fantasizing about where I could go alone (and with my kids who now have both of their vaccines). But I’m also feeling this deep sense to make things malleable, not only in my personal and intimate rhythms, but also in my work. When my legs are tucked between my sheets, and I reach for my water between pages, I think, “this is how I want to spend my adult life.” And “Wow, what a wonderful way to spend it.” Then I quickly shift to, “Only if I had more time.”  I realize within those words, I make an active choice to harness these odd and long days of winter with time I offer myself. For lack of a better word, the book forces me to lean into this season, and whatever mental and body space I may be inhabiting. Instead of looking ahead into a new year where I quickly pick up my hustle when the kids return, I am deeply considering all the ways I may be able to say, “Oh, I have the time. And this, is how I’m spending my life.”

I’ve been reading Crying In H Mart, and it has been powerful. I’ve laughed. And I’v cried ( a lot).

This evening, as I wind down my list and my body, I’m listening to this episode from On Being, which feels apt to this post, life and my reading experience now. They used the phrase Meta Awareness when describing the act of reading and noticing when you’re not paying attention. It’s a wild lift of hyper awareness that I too have experienced. They also mentioned, “Micro-dosing” well being, and closed with beautiful reflections on connection, too. 

If you’re looking to join me in this book, or have any words to share on it, I’d love to read them. And if you’re open to a nudge, an offering, to commit to something between the many holiday hours this month, here it is.

6 thoughts on “A Book A Month: Winter Ways

  • Reply Samantha December 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    I’m open to a nudge!! I have been looking at my bookshelf every day thinking that I would do well to pick something up. I’ve seen how much people love Crying in H Mart but haven’t picked it up yet. Glad you’re loving it. I have Pet by Akwaeke Emezi staring back at me at the moment, and one of Emma Straub’s earlier books that might be a fun read?? All this to say, thanks as always, LaTonya. I am so grateful for this space.

    • Reply latonya December 9, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Thank you~~

  • Reply Laurie December 8, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    I tore through this – so many unexpected emotions (and the crying). Like who do you want to be to your family (chosen or otherwise) when they age. She has a really beautiful essay in harpers bazar about forgiveness it’s sort of a spoiler but not really? https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a35859320/choosing-forgiveness-michelle-zauner-essay/

    • Reply latonya December 9, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Oh wow, okay, I will bookmark and read when I’m finished. I have been crying so much. I needed it!

  • Reply Anne December 8, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    The beauty of this book caught me completely off guard. I’ve been feeling an earlier onset of seasonal depression and anxiety this year too and this book was like emotional catharsis. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

    • Reply latonya December 9, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Anne, I hear you! Yes, I’m realizing that that’s what it’s doing for me. Total catharsis. So happy to keep company with it, and already texted a few friends: GO BUY THIS RIGHT NOW.

      Thanks Anne!

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