Happy December, book friends! If there’s one thing I love, it’s the first day of a new month, full of potential and that feeling of a fresh start. And yes, I did debate skipping What We’re Reading Wednesday since the first of the month is when I post my monthly reading recap story. Then I remembered we’ve yet to miss a single WWRW since I started them, and I love a good streak.
December is, for me, the lead up to Yoga with Adriene’s annual tradition of a 30-day yoga journey in the month of January. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the holidays, because I do, but deep down I’m dreaming of rolling out the mat on January 1st.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself, because of course December is a full month in and of itself, and there’s plenty of holiday reading to be done before I swap out our Christmas tree for a 30-day yoga calendar.
November was, as I’ve mentioned, quite a reading slump month for me. I’m hoping to jumpstart my brain back into reading a bit more regularly with all the holiday-themed books I’ve been stockpiling since, oh, October. But before I can do that, I’ve got to finish up my current reads. Let’s check in on where we’re at, shall we?
(Full Disclosure: Book links are Bookshop.org affiliate links which earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you, should you choose to purchase.)
Amazon has really been on an email recommendation spree since I started writing about books online again. I get 4–5 emails a day with various book recs, which I generally just delete since I try to do most of my book shopping on Bookshop.org these days. But, I do still have an Audible account so I will poke around when the ads mention audio, which is how I learned of Rainbow Rowell’s Amazon exclusive short story, If the Fates Allow.
This, like Mindy Kaling’s last book of essays, is free to Amazon Prime members in ebook and audio format. (Am I still angry I can’t have a shiny physical copy of Mindy’s latest to grace my bookshelves? Yes.) And, like Mindy’s last book of essays, I picked it up without really reading the synopsis because, hey, it’s free and holiday themed and written by Rainbow Rowell.
The cover is festive with its green Jell-O salad against a red background, and I expected a delightful little holiday love story. Had I read the synopsis, I’d have been prepared for the opener: December 2020.
Yep, this one is set during a COVID Christmas, wherein the protagonist is the only family member visiting her grandfather for Christmas because the two of them are the only ones taking the pandemic seriously. This may have been a cute enough story if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m not really emotionally ready to read about COVID this explicitly, particularly not since I didn’t see my own family for the holidays at all last year. When I read holiday books, I do it for escapism and the holly jolly. So, while I did finish this one (it’s only about an hour long) I don’t know that I can say I enjoyed it, exactly.
I feel like a bit of a broken record but I’m once again reminding you that I’m still working my way through Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. What can I say, The Sims has won my attention lately.
Thankfully, the 28th of the month has come and gone, which means a fresh new audiobook credit hit my account just in time for a friend to recommend Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig. I’ll let the Goodreads synopsis tell you about this one:
A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting_pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most.
I knew I wanted to read it based on my friend’s glowing review, but I wasn’t really prepared for how deeply I’d feel the book’s introduction about disability. Taussig has used a wheelchair since early in her life, and in the beginning of the book, she speaks about the reality that anyone having a body is likely to eventually encounter some sort of disability, in themselves or in a loved one, if they grow up and grow old.
As you may know, I developed and was diagnosed with a somewhat rare chronic pain disorder called occipital neuralgia two years ago. Through grueling months of advocating for care and testing, I eventually found the diagnosis and trial-and-errored my way to a treatment plan that mostly works to manage the pain. And yet… I live now in a body that, for a few days a month, hurts in a way that makes it difficult to carry on and trudge ahead like I once did. This experience changed me profoundly, and shifted how I see and understand the world.
I mention this because it was difficult (in a necessary, powerful way) for me to encounter Taussig’s exploration of ableism and living in a body that doesn’t quite fit into how society is structured. I saw myself in the ableism that permeates our society, the assumptions and lack of awareness around those who navigate the world differently than the assumed default.
And I saw myself in the description of trying to navigate a system that doesn’t accommodate me. There is no “pain day” leave in the workplace, no easy way to ask to be allowed to hide at home in sweatpants so I don’t have to force myself to smile and make small talk. Chronic pain is, of course, a different experience to a more visible and mobility-based disability, which is precisely why I was unprepared to relate so strongly to Taussig’s words.
I came to the book because it’s important to me that I read stories by and about those who navigate the world differently to how I do. I wanted to understand more about the lived experience of someone who is a member of the disabled community trying to navigate a world which often does not consider their needs or make space for them to have the same level of access. I’m only 2.5 chapters in, and already, I can tell this will be a profound and powerful read for me. That’s not to say that Taussig doesn’t also write with humor and wit, because it’s also a very fun book to read, which I didn’t fully expect.
Up Next & On To You
Soon, some holiday books to go with our holiday decorations! No, really, I mean it this time.
How’s your week in reading been, book friends? Tell me what you’ve been reading (or doing instead) and how you’ve been enjoying it!
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