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Staff Pick of the Week: “Wintering” by Katherine May

Genre: Memoir, Self-Help, Family and Relationships.
Read-Alikes:
The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl
A Matter of Life and Death by Irvin D. Yalom
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs



“In this elegant memoir, journalist May (Burning Out) finds beauty and transformation in a difficult period of her life. In the span of six months, May’s husband falls ill with acute appendicitis; her six-year-old son, who is bullied and suffers from anxiety, stops going to school; and she leaves her job as a university lecturer after suffering severe stomach pains from malabsorption. Though May centers her thoughts on these harrowing events, she is more interested in reflecting on the internal process they set into motion (what May calls “wintering,”) and embraces the harshness of life as part of the cycle of nature: ‘When everything is broken, everything is also up for grabs. That’s the gift of winter: it’s irresistible. Change will happen in its wake, whether we like it or not.’ She traces events that transpire between September and March as she weathers winter through a mix of traditions—winter solstice at Stonehenge, Finnish saunas, and polar bear plunges—that reaffirm her purpose and see her through to the next phase of her life: ‘Mine is a personal animism, hushed by my conscious brain, nurtured by my unconscious.’ May’s evocative ode to retreat will appeal to fans of Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living.” (Dec.) –Staff (Reviewed 07/06/2020) (Publishers Weekly, vol 267, issue 27, p)

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-George, FTPL

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