the archivist July 6, 2021
snow-covered tree near body of water

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
Katherine May
Riverhead Books
256 Pages

Everybody winters at one time or another; some winter over and over again.

Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds... However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful.

Yet it’s also inevitable. We like to imagine that it’s possible for life to be one eternal summer and that we have uniquely failed to achieve that for ourselves. We dream of an equatorial habitat, forever close to the sun, an endless, unvarying high season. But life’s not like that. –Katherine May

This book defies easy categorization. It is part memoir, part literary survey, part self-help, part meditation on our culture. I appreciated the author’s moments of wry, sardonic humor amidst her journey through difficult times. This book is very much suited to our current moment, where we could all use a bit of a break from the constant barrage of anxiety-inducing concerns. Get some rest, dear readers. We need it.

Once we stop wishing it were summer, winter can be a glorious season in which the world takes on a sparse beauty and even the pavements sparkle. It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order.

Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it’s essential. –Katherine May

Wintering Katherine May
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