Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Finding Balance

This year has been off to an unusual start, reading-wise. Normally I spend the holidays devouring a pulpy paperback or three that I raid from Mom's bookshelves. Instead, I wrenched my heart, gut and sense of national pride with The Good Soldiers. (Technically, I started  in 2015, but the majority of my read happened in the last 10 days, so: I'm counting it.) This is the non-fictional tale of an American battalion deploying to Iraq for the famous 2007 surge. It's strange to read the detail of such recent history that I was sure I was up on. I'm a news junkie, after all, and was studying public policy at the time. I even dated an Iraq war veteran a few years later, and so have long felt I understand the nuances of the political versus personal experience of American foreign policy. However, David Finkel, the author, does an incredible job of juxtaposing Presidential rhetoric, strategic intentions and the reality of insurgent war-fighting, and I have found myself considering the conflict, and its continued hopelessness, in an entirely new way.  (I should note, it's an incredibly readable, well-crafted book. Finkel is a journalist, and writes a compelling, human-focused story.)

Unfortunately, I decided to simultaneously binge-watch Making of a Murderer, and was also going through a bit of a crisis about the civic, political and moral implications of my job. One week into 2016, and I was beginning to feel very pessimistic about everything. And so I grabbed The Martian off the nearest bookshelf and escaped America and Earth itself for a celebration of all that humanity can be: resourceful, funny, kind, collaborative, generous.

With that, (personal) balance has been restored, and in recognition of that happy fact, I've just picked up The Balance Within. It was a Brain Pickings recommendation, and a good precursor, I hope, to a highly anticipated vacation at the end of this month.

Reading Progress: 2/50

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