Let me just get this out of the way and say that crafting a blog right now is kinda hard. Who knows how different our world will be between this writing and when it's published. We witnessed a literal attack on our democracy just a few days ago. Hallowed halls were defaced and defiled, 5 people lost their lives... and I'm supposed give book recommendations and talk about the TV shows I've watched? This one is a struggle. I've been doing some serious, last-minute, editing because typically I'm quick with a quip and a joke and that seems wrong right now. I'm currently quipless. Plus, 2020 being what it was (void of travel, hang outs with friends, theatre performances, concerts, amusement parks, restaurants, and even holiday gatherings with family) what is there to say? When I sit down to write, I'm usually filled with a sense of enthusiasm but that enthusiasm has turned to dread as there is nothing to discuss besides my Yet Another Night of watching The Crown. So, here's what I'm going to tell you to do: watch The Crown if it makes you feel better. Lose yourself in Claire Foy's perfect portrayal of Queen Elizabeth if that is what will get you through. Or, if soap operas about the royal family aren't your thing, find whatever your thing is and absorb yourself in it without an ounce of guilt. It is OK.
Looking for some fiction that feels like you're really there? Try Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. This is a historical fiction novel about Anne (Agnes) Hathaway and William Shakespeare's complicated family life and, ultimately, the death of their son Hamnet. Sadly, in real life there is more unknown about Shakespeare and Hathaway than there is known. Hamnet fills a void for those of us who have dared to dream about what their lives were like. It also makes one consider all of the tragedies and stories about twins (Hamnet had a twin sister) in Shakespeare's plays including, of course, Hamlet. Reading Hamnet made some things click for me. Like, of course William Shakespeare's life as a writer was completely changed and absolutely steeped in emotion after the death of his young son. Of course!
Maybe a somewhat depressing book about The Bard is not really what you're into right now. Fair enough. When I can't concentrate, I cook. (I haven't eaten inside a restaurant since January 2020, and I imagine many of you are in the same boat.) My favorite cookbook of 2020 was Melissa Clark's Dinner in French. In its pages you will find a croque monsieur casserole that is so decadent, it feels French in the way only an American could make it. (As in, let's add an obscenely American amount of French cheese.) I've been praising it all year so if there's a long hold list, here are some other good ones to try: Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin was wonderful- with a chicken pot pie recipe that I still think about at least once a week. And I cannot recommend Bottom of the Pot by Naz Deravian enough. She writes Persian and Persian-inspired recipes. I don't buy a lot of books because of the whole working in a library thing but I bought this one.
My weekends are usually spent cooking during the day and watching a movie at night. This year, I've devoted a lot of time watching movies I never saw when they came out, and revisiting movies I loved when I was younger. As I say in almost every post, I will watch anything that takes place in the UK or Paris-- my two favorite travel destinations. It soothes my soul to watch films like Amelie and Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. It is really so simple: I love being reminded that Paris is there, and that one day (hopefully) soon, I will be back. But my obsession with travel is mine. Maybe you love old James Bond films or, I don't know, maybe it's The Smurfs. The point is to find your thing and enjoy it with abandon whenever time allows. People often say when they come into the library that they're embarrassed by their "guilty pleasures." They whisper, "Where are the romance novels?," or they nervously laugh when they call to renew something they think is low-brow. Let me pull out the biggest cliche I can think of: Life is short, do what you love. You're not the only adult checking out YA manga, I can assure you. (Hey, some of it is really good, OK??)
So, there you have it. Blog completed. OK, fine, I still had a little enthusiasm and maybe there is a quip or two. I hope you're doing well. I love working here and helping in my own small way with keeping you entertained. What will life be like in a week? A month? A year? I cannot say. But I can say the library will be here for you and you can check out as many romance novels and YA manga books as you please.
-Sarah Mathews is an Accounts Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.