8 Jan
Posted in: Books
By    Comments Off on Going There

Going There

I love to read. I love to visit other places, other lives, other minds(!) through books…but I’m very choosy about what I read….meaning that I only want to read something that’s well written (in my opinion) and something that will take me to a place I’ve never been to before, but it also has to be a place I’d LIKE to be taken to. (No books about the horrors of war or anything about Hitler’s Germany, please.)

Over the holidays, I spent a delicious week reading all four of the novels in Elena Ferrante’s “Naples” series (even better than a trip to Italy!) plus The Door, by Magda Szabo (which took me to some kind of crazy/fascinating place in the middle of a completely unique relationship between a Hungarian writer and her formidable/unforgettable housekeeper).

But now I’m ready to push the boundary of what I’d normally read. After Ferrante and Szabo, I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, which was uncomfortable–but necessary–because, I believe, as a white woman, of an upper-middle-class background, living in St. Louis, worlds away (but less than 10 miles from) Ferguson, MO….his is a voice I need to hear.

So I listened. I can’t say that I enjoyed it. Or that I don’t take issue with some of what he had to say and the way he said it. But it was good to go there.

And to other places like that.

So now I’m reading One of Us, by Asne Seierstad, the account of Anders Breivik’s massacre in Norway. I’m not doing it just because it’s uncomfortable. But because, as the title suggests, I think it’s important to go beyond the security of “that’s a bad guy over there, who must be insane, who certainly has nothing in common with me, certainly noting in common with my experience of reasonable rage against the things I think–the things I KNOW–are WRONG.”


I feel a little queasy.

But I’ll keep going.

Stay tuned.

Comments are closed.