I think there are two reactions, bookwise, to the current political situation. Some people are stepping up in their reading--reading about politics, social justice, and activism. Aarti's been posting some amazing, thoughtful reviews this week.
I, on the other hand, am going the other way. I am avoiding the real world in my reading life--which meant actually dropping a couple of books I was in the middle of, because they were too much about oppressive regimes or fear-mongering charmers who turn the world against your heroes.
Instead, I'm thinking comfort reads. I was already reading Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, but it's been my go-to this week, because the whole story is so immediate and intimate. Sue may be a thief, but she's plucky and smart, and reading the book, you could believe that there were only two houses in the world--the little pawn shop and the great dank manor. I also love an imposter story, and a thief pretending to be a lady's maid seems like the best thing ever. Mike and I have tickets to see the show at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in a few weeks, so this is kind of perfect to read right now.
I have also turned aggressively in a nunward direction. In following Jenny's recommendation of the book The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio, I wound up in the nun aisle of the library, which of course means I walked away with more than I bargained for. So I just finished a book called New Habits: Today's Women Who Choose to Become Nuns, by Isobel Losada. The book was published in 1999, so most of the women were interviewed when I was in college, and there have been a lot of changes in the Catholic church since then. This book very much made me want to find an even more recent book on a similar subject.
I'm also thinking of rereading Shining Through, by Susan Isaacs, one of my longstanding comfort reads. I think watching people be heroic in World War II--especially in a world of clear good guys and bad guys (without ignoring that the good guys were no always as good as you wish they were) might be right up my alley right now.
And finally, I'm avidly reading a Buffy fanfic that is so good I can't even tell you. Just yesterday I caught up on he published chapters; it's near the end, but from now on I have to wait a chapter a day like everyone else. It's called Otherwise, by one of my favorite fanfic authors, Sigyn, and it's sweet and hard at the same time. It's a time travel story--sort of--which often just end up being wish fulfillment, "if I knew then what I know now" stories about how much better things would have turned out if the characters had done what we wanted them to. But this is about might-have-beens, and about what you lose by dwelling on what you already lost. I love Sigyn's older Buffy, who is harder, but also much stronger in her feelings and sense of self.
So, sweethearts, this is what I read when my heart doesn't know where to turn. What about you? I am always looking for another comfort read. I think it will be a while before I read any dystopian fiction.