The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The things I love about swimming:

  • the immediate sense of relaxation as soon as I dive in
  • watching the tiles on the bottom as I churn through laps – it’s my meditation
  • the ritual – from the order of my laps to the way I roll my towel and bathers post-swim
  • the lingering smell of chlorine or the grit of salt

The specifics: I’m a medium-laner; always a 50-metre pool; always outdoors (all year round).

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka is a novel in two parts. The first is about an indoor pool and its swimmers. Swimming can be a great leveler, and Otsuka captures this in her descriptions –

We suffer from bad backs, fallen arches, shattered dreams, broken hearts, anxiety, melancholia, anhedonia, the usual aboveground afflictions. Continue reading

Wintering by Katherine May

The subtitle of Katherine May’s memoir-meets-nature-writing, Wintering, is ‘The power of rest and retreat in difficult times’. The subtitle might suggest a how-to guide for coping with pandemics but that’s not the case.

Instead, May’s gentle book examines the cues that flora and fauna take from the weather; and the human response to the cold, including winter recreation (saunas and rolling in snow); and rituals and customs.

Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – friends, more friends, and boundaries

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week, three from the list of books I was looking forward to in 2020: Continue reading