Hi, I’m Kristin. I manage the Ashland Branch and I read a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Last year I read over 200 books while working a full time job. The Venn diagram of the time I spend reading and the time I spend working are two independent, non-overlapping circles. Librarians often love to read, but we don’t get paid to read. My point is I read. A lot. …and when I read, I think. That’s the former philosophy major in me.
What I’ve been thinking about lately is historical fiction and how looking at past times can inform how I process our present. …and we are living in STRANGE times, in case you haven’t noticed. On top of being in the midst of a global pandemic, now murder hornets are a thing. If an author were trying to sell the premise of the year 2020 to a publisher as fiction, the publisher would tell them they might want to dial it back a little. Our reality is too over-the-top to be plausible as fiction! Since dystopian literature hits a little too close to home, I turn to historical fiction. When I read historical fiction, I tend to read mysteries. So I thought I’d kick this off by sharing some historical mysteries and how they have helped me think about living through 2020 and how we heal from it.
I’ve recently begun reading the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I’ve read the first two titles in the series in rapid succession (Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, both available on Library2Go and Hoopla). Set in England some years after World War I ended, what struck me about coming to this series as a 2020 reader was the shared common suffering of the war and its aftermath: the loss of loved ones, the presence of severely traumatized former soldiers, and the ripples that a long tragic period in history can have after the event itself is considered over. What struck me was the power of the characters to connect through this shared suffering and how this understanding helps them heal. While the suffering is horrible, there is hope in being able to witness the community’s healing in the aftermath. This gives me hope that our path out of our current situation can be surmounted through connection and caring.
I’m going to end by linking to some more historical mysteries that I have found soothing and that are available digitally from the library. I hope that some of them appeal to you and that you find at least one new title you hadn’t thought about picking up prior to this. Click here to see the list.
I don’t think historical fiction can help us think through murder hornets. We’re probably on our own on that front.
How does fiction help you process the world around you?