The Books I Picked for February (My TBR List)
My reading goals for January were ambitious, so I’m cutting myself some slack for February. I read/listened to eight books in January. Take that Goodreads goal! In all seriousness, I am not a proponent of ploughing through books, and it’s not something I typically do, which is why I’m looking forward to taking some time with only two books in February. Of course, I say that now…
“Hark” by Sam Lipsyte
“Hark” is about a mindfulness guru who is thrust into the spotlight when his “Mental Archery” technique—“a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery”—becomes the latest mindfulness craze.
“Hark” interested me because it pokes fun at the mindfulness movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga and meditation. Yoga makes my arthritic joints move like a normal 32-year-old’s (after much crunching), and I believe that meditation helps me keep my head on straight. That said, I also understand and agree with some of the criticism and skepticism of the mindfulness movement.
In “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer,” Barbara Ehrenreich devotes a whole chapter to “the madness of mindfulness.” She quotes bestselling psychologist Daniel Goleman’s observation that the tech industry created a problem—tech-induced inattention—and subsequently sold a solution—mindfulness apps. Ehrenreich points out, “This is Buddhism sliced up, commodified, and drained of all referenced to the transcendent.” She also notes the lack of scientific evidence supporting mindfulness-based apps.
I’m not sure whether “Hark” has anything to do with mindfulness apps, but I’m guessing it critisizes the slicing up and commodifying of Buddhism. Regardless, all of Ehrenreich’s criticisms are valid, and I know how silly I look chilling out in with my Calm app in my p-jams under my weighted blanket with an eye pillow over my eyes. That’s why I’m happy to both continue my mindfulness and yoga routines and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all while reading a satirical book.
“The Art of Leaving” by Ayelet Tsabari
“The Art of Leaving” is a memoir, and I love memoirs. It’s being released on February 19. I hope I’ll get to read my ARC before then!
Tsabari is an Israeli writer who became something of a nomad after her father died. I read the description of this book on NetGalley, and I had to request it: “In The Art of Leaving, Tsabari tells her story, from her early love of writing and words, to her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand, and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage, her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language, her decision to become a mother, and finally her rediscovery and embrace of her family history—a history marked by generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. Eventually, she realizes that she must reconcile the memories of her father and the sadness of her past if she is ever going to come to terms with herself.
“With fierce, emotional prose, Ayelet Tsabari crafts a beautiful meditation about the lengths we will travel to try to escape our grief, the universal search to find a place where we belong, and the sense of home we eventually find within ourselves.”
“The sense of home we eventually find within ourselves,” what a beautiful sentiment. This year, I am also trying to read more books by and/or about people who aren’t from the U.S. or Europe. I can’t wait to dig into this one!