Forwarded from a friend?
Do you like hearing people’s words of the year? I do.
Words of the year are such a restrained bit of information — often no more than 10 letters. But that scattering of symbols says a lot about where someone has been and where they hope to go. It’s intimate, really. So it feels vulnerable and meaningful to share that my word for 2023 is responsive.
In the past, I’ve been quite good at naming a goal and gunning for it until I get it. I’m glad I can do that, but it has some downsides. I’ve found it’s easy to forget about the things that land outside of the target I’ve eyed but which are still important. Being goal-oriented encourages blinders. Plus, a year can contain a lot, and it’s natural for things to shift.
Responsiveness is meant to be an antidote to those problems. To me, the word invites presence, attention, and flexibility — all things I want more of in 2023.
New Writing From Me
I probably shouldn’t pick favorites, but oh well. The pair of pieces I wrote for Everyday Health about sadness are my favorite things I wrote this fall (the longer of the set is out new this month!). I got to interview some super smart people about an often-misunderstood emotion (Steven C. Hayes! Deb Dana! Ethan Kross! Meaghan Barlow!). The whole process made me feel much more warmly toward a feeling I tend to give the cold shoulder. I hope you’ll read and share my guide: All About Sadness: What Causes It, How to Cope With It, and When to Get Help.
Books I Think You’ll Like
When I pick a book for my book club, I often take a risk and select something I haven’t yet read. I’m hosting this month for our 11th birthday and went with All This Could Be Different: A Novel by Sarah Thankam Mathews thanks to some favorable reviews. Then I crossed my fingers and dove in. Oh boy. What a novel! It’s fresh and true and complicated. Reading it energized me as a writer and a human. I am drawn to books that with complex characters who grow and change and love and this book offered all three. A hearty recommendation.
A friend recommended I read Michelle Huneven’s Blame: A Novel. My library didn’t have any copies, so I downloaded the Kindle sample, figuring I could at least read the first 10% for free. But within those pages I got pulled in so deep I had to open my browser to buy the whole thing when my sample ran out. I love this book. The writing is great. The themes are fantastic. And for a novel that felt pretty cerebral, its plot clipped along with a tension I usually associate with thrillers or beach reads. The worst Goodreads reviews say that knowing more about the plot kinda ruins it, so if you want to read it, I recommend just diving in the way I did.
As a birthday present for a beloved buddy, I picked up Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe at Challengers, a comic book store in Chicago that my sister-in-law works at. While I waited to give it to my friend, I couldn’t help myself and read the whole thing in an afternoon. I think books are the kind of present that only get more special when shared (I hope you agree, C! 😉 ). The memoir is about exactly what it sounds like, and offers a vulnerable peek into one person’s complicated experience of gender.
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