Thursday, February 10, 2022

Book Review - Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times; Katherine May

 

Riverhead Books & Penguin Audio - 2020
(combo - read/listen - audio 6 hours 54 min. read by Rebecca Lee - very good)

Wintering is a memoir / inspirational kind of book that came out the end of 2020 and has been on my TBR list since then.  I finally decided to listen to the audio and there was so much that spoke to me that I had to download the eBook from the library and, I even ordered this print UK edition  (look at that pretty cover art) because there is so much I wanted to highlight.  This is one of those rather short books that just might become an annual winter read for me.

Katherine May's memoir begins in September when her husband fell ill and required an emergency appendectomy for a burst appendix; it almost ended his life.  Following his gradual recovery, the author also started to feel unwell, just a feeling that something wasn't right. To ease her depression and anxiety she took time off from her position as a writing director and what happened soon after was a kind of transformation or celebration.  It happened around the time on the winter solstice and a new way of thinking about and embracing winter evolved.  Just as nature needs time to slow down and regenerate, so do us humans. 

The author speaks of the new joy of cooking and creating, reading by candlelight on a cold winter evening wrapped in a favorite blanket or comforter.  Is it so terrible to stay home, prepare tasty comfort foods, work on projects that were long ago set aside or, how about just sitting still and reflecting or our lives past and present?

This was a most interesting  and reflective sort of book - the topics sometimes felt random or even scattered yet I found it to be very satisfying. I think many people could benefit by reading this book; it gives the reader much to think about and, may be even more important to individuals prone toward cold weather winter bouts of depression.  It's time to change how many of us think about winter and the darker and more difficult paths we must walk from time to time.

The audio was provided by Penguin Audio at no charge in exchange for my unbiased review. The eBook was downloaded from my library and I've purchased the print edition which should arrive soon.)

Quotes - (just a few - there were so many more that I liked)

--“Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.” 

--“Winter is a season that invites me to rest well, and feel restored, when I am allowed to retreat to be quietly separate.” 

---“In our winter, a transformation happened. We read and worked and problem-solved and found new solutions. We changed our focus away from pushing through with normal life and towards making a new one. When everything is broken, everything is also up for grabs. That’s the gift of winter: it’s irresistible. Change will happen in its wake, whether we like it or not. We can come out of it wearing a different coat.” 

--“That is wintering. It is the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can.” 

--“Once we stop wishing it were summer, winter can be a glorious season when 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.” 

Rating - 5/5 stars

29 comments:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this so much, Diane! I liked the contemplative atmosphere of it very much. I've just finished 'After' by Dr. Bruce Greyson, so glad I read about it here on your blog as I thought it was an amazing book.

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    1. Cath - it's so nice to share our love of books and discover new delights. I am happy you enjoyed "After". I found out about it when had lunch with a few book group ladies and one of them was talking about how she enjoyed it. Hope you are having a good week.

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    2. It is wonderful indeed to share our love of books as we do. When you see your book group friend again say, 'Hi from the UK' for me and 'Thanks for the excellent recommendation'. :-)

      You have a good week too. I'm much more relaxed now that our Covid scare is over. And now The Queen is in exactly the same situation as us! You couldn't make it up.

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  2. You've sure been on a roll with the good ones lately!

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  3. I've had this on my library list for several months, but maybe I should go ahead an order a copy to own. It sounds like a gem!

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    1. Mystica below makes a good point but, I know you do have some cool and rainy weather and hey, we all go through personal events that are troubling and cause for down time and reflection. I think you would enjoy this one.

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  4. I think for people who have distinct seasons this would reflect on a lifestyle as well. I wonder what would be the catalyst for thinking and review for someone in my circumstances. Maybe just life changing events like illness or a death of someone loved.

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    1. What you say is very true - if your temperature is always more or less the same but, perhaps if you had a rainy season that would be more reason to stay indoors and do things a bit differently. Otherwise, it would seem like a personal crisis in life would be the likely events to pause and reflect.

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  5. I think "wintering" is a concept for which the time has come, regardless of the season.

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    1. "Wintering" - or "coping skills" in stressful, darker times. COVID 2019 was a prime example when this book would have been helpful to many who were used to go...go...going!

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  6. I love those quotes you chose! And I like the idea of 'wintering', too. :)

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    1. Thanks Lark, there were so many - I tried to just cite a few.

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  7. I have a friend who lives in Ireland who would love this book. She goes into a depression every year during winter. I don't get depressed, but I think I'd still like this books.

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    1. I'm guessing this book would help your friend Vicki. Books like this also help when dealing with the loss of a loved one, relationship break up or health crisis as well IMO

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  8. This has been on list ever since it was released... and even though I don't live with real winter anymore, I still think it will give me a lot to think about.

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    1. Yes, I think everyone could get something out of this book.

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  9. Oh this sounds wonderful and kind of just what I need. I don't really deal with seasonal depression (we don't really have a winter here) but this sounds healing.

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  10. This sounds so good. I do look forward to winter, mostly as a relief from heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, but also for the idea of hunkering down, reading, and cocooning. The prospect of losing our seasons is frightening for me.

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    1. I love the change of seasons as well and couldn't live somewhere where I couldn't enjoy the changes.

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  11. I love books like this that give us a different perspective, and also help us appreciate things like winter or just being. I know as I get older I find myself sometimes just doing... nothing. Maybe enjoying the view out the window or just appreiating the moment, things my formerly harried and younger self wouldn't have had time for. :)

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    1. Greg, same here. I remember as a teen when I saw my mother just working in her garden or looking out a window for a long time I thought "how boring." Funny how that view changes the older we get.

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  12. This is the perfect book for winter, isn't it? I forget that I am a part of nature, and, like the rest of nature, I need to slow down during the winter season.

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    1. That is probably harder to do in Texas Deb than it is in New England but, it's still important to slow down.

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  13. As a retiree, I can relate to the message of this book. Unrushed days of cooking, reading, relaxing, are all part of regular life now!

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    1. Harvee, isn't it nice to get into the more relaxed set of routines once you retire? I know a couple of women who retired around me who can't stand to be home and are always on the go... I don't get it, I love the slower pace.

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  14. Yeah seems like some good reflections in this book. I sleep more in the winter -- it's like hibernation! And the pandemic the past two years ... has thrown us into a slower pace for sure.

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  15. I need this right now!

    stacybuckeye

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