A Visit With Old Friends
Last month I posted a couple of questions on Facebook—both the author page and the Beekeeper’s Apprentices group—wondering what people had been reading in the past year. I wasn’t really surprised to find that many of you, like I, have been reaching for old friends. In 2020, reading was heavily re-reading.
“I hang out with my literary friends instead,” one of you said. Another put it, “rereading…is like paying a visit to an old friend in a time of isolation.” “When I had no courage for new books and not much of an attention span, rereading Mary Russell’s adventures kept me sane.”
Courage is a good word for it. I did read new books—I bought a whole lot of new books—but frankly, it’s only since the end of January that I’ve begun to pick up those that I know are going to be challenging, either mentally or spiritually.
Too many challenges in 2020. Too much spiritual and mental battering, too much noir—where the hero probably loses, and the villain walks away unscathed—and not enough cozy—stories where the reader knows that things will be solved and the right people win, in the end.
Which may be why my re-reading also inclined toward humor. Silly or dark, slapstick or subtle, humor has been a lifesaver. Keeping Terry Pratchett, John Scalzi, Jodi Taylor, and Ben Aaronovitch on my night-stand let me sleep, secure in the conviction that smart, funny, and humane people are out there, and that those of us who love smart humor will prevail.
It’s been a long, dark twelve months, stupidly and unnecessarily long, and claustrophobically dark even for those of us who managed to get to 2021 without direct tragedy and loss. It’s a wound that will take time to heal.
And fiction helps. The community of book-lovers helps. Writers who make us grin and even laugh aloud help hugely, returning air to our lungs and perspective to our minds.
So this is a thank you, to all of you out there who kept in touch, who kept reading, who used my work to find community, find sanity, even used it to find inspiration for projects of your own. My thanks to you all, let me know in the comments if you have recommendations for smart, funny, humane writers I may have missed—and I’ll end this with the sign-off I’ve been using on many emails over past months: