The Sunday Post for November 17, 2019

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few things we loved reading and want to share with you. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.

Seattle winters are long and dark and wet, and I sympathize fully with anyone who dreads them. I’ve had my own years where the dark winter got inside me, and years when the first clear and sunny day brought tears of surprised relief.

It’s not helped by the current atmosphere of generalized apocalyptic shitstorm (“GAS”). Social media carries some of the blame for that, but then there’s simple reality: our government currently is a shitstorm, and we’re generally trying like hell to avoid an apocalypse.

Crisis of this magnitude calls for heroics, but it also calls for small, good things. Keeping your mind clear of the enemy, making sure the tenor of your being (with thanks to the friend who’s loaning me that term) pushes the dark away instead of bringing it closer. For example…

This tiny bookstore on wheels brings books to towns whose bookstores have closed

Jenn Fields shares her joy in Jean-Jacques Megal-Nuber’s tiny home bookmobile. “Au Vrai Chic Littérère” is jam-packed with books and somehow still bright, comfortable, and calm. Megal-Nuber travels with the bookmobile through rural Alsace, sleeping in its miniature loft at night and opening the doors during day to villagers who no longer have bookstores in their town.

Dreamlike, and full of dreams.

[The] tiny home-turned-library is gorgeous on the inside. The light-colored pine throughout, including the bookshelves, gives it a bright interior.

“I wanted a little feeling of a cabin and an aura of a small bookstore, which both evoke a lot of dreaming,” Pauline Fagué, a designer at Maison qui Chemine, told Architectural Digest of the design.

The secret to enjoying a long winter

Depression and anxiety are tricky things, and it takes more than a shift in attitude to shift the black dog. But, Jason Kottke found, accepting the presence of a smaller, seasonal dog can make room for a little light.

Sometime this fall — using a combination of Stoicism, stubbornness, and a sort of magical thinking that Jason-in-his-30s would have dismissed as woo-woo bullshit — I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings.

The complicated role of the modern public library

I have a friend, a woman with a lovely, curious mind and a deep sense of courtesy, who will only return library books to the branch where she checked them out. Her graciousness toward the librarians who wrangle returns, and her desire to protect each branch’s collection, are admirable if eccentric.

But: what’s more library than circulation? And not just the movement of books from one shelf to another, but from hand to hand, across the city and across social strata. Libraries aren’t perfect, and they aren’t the greater levelers of society, but they’re closer than almost anything else we have. They’re a refuge and a respite and a place where we learn about each other, from the page and from the person. A place where when you have to go there, they almost certainly will take you in.

The public library requires nothing of its visitors: no purchases, no membership fees, no dress code. You can stay all day, and you don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need money or a library card to access a multitude of on-site resources that includes books, e-books and magazines, job-hunting assistance, computer stations, free Wi-Fi, and much more. And the library will never share or sell your personal data.
How to unlearn everything

Alexander Chee cuts brilliantly to the heart of white writers who want advice for writing about people of color, or straight people who want to write queer. Instead of a diatribe, or anger, he brings to the table some straightforward and strengthening advice: write the stories only you can write. His approach is clear and respectful without giving ground — an antidote, if you’ll pardon the trite close, to the apocalypse of anger that has overtaken what we are, collectively, together.

Given all the excellent writing about the challenges of rendering otherness, someone who asks this question in 2019 probably has not done the reading. But the question is a Trojan horse, posing as reasonable artistic discourse when, in fact, many writers are not really asking for advice — they are asking if it is okay to find a way to continue as they have. They don’t want an answer; they want permission. Which is why all that excellent writing advice has failed to stop the question thus far.