Something we hear all the time from women is how rare it is to see ourselves accurately depicted in word and film. Maybe this is because juicy, powerful, and sovereign (or fill in your favorite menopausal experience) can look and feel so different to each one of us. Maybe this is another reflection of how nuanced these midlife years can be and the myriad ways menopause affects our already intricate and complex lives. None of us experiences our lives in the same way. But it’s also true that in some genres of literature we seem to largely exist as caricature, as one-dimensional reflections of society’s worst fears about us. Maybe our own worst fears, too. How many of us have thrown another library selection at the wall, completely pissed off at some misrepresentation? How many of us have wondered aloud to a friend why all the young women in stories get adventure and romance while we’re sidelined again, as friends or mothers only, when our real life stories and those of our friends are so much more interesting? Where are the books for women like us whose lives don’t always fit in tidy little categories? Where are the real stories of women opening up their lives to change and growth and taking menopause up on its offer of transformation?
Say hello to Vivid Reads! Bronwyn and I are convinced that there really are stories about women like us but we need to go in search of them. Wouldn’t it be fun to do this together? We can’t ever have too many stories of women at midlife. We could just post a list of volumes she and I have enjoyed but then it would still be us, with only two perspectives. The beauty of a virtual book club format is in the opportunity for all of us to see stories from a new angle and be challenged by each other’s reflections and questions.
For Vivid Reads, we’re interested in selections which reflect the diversity of our readership and the diversity of midlife and menopausal experiences. We’re thinking cross-genre, here: health, history, novels, mystery, poetry, romance, just about anything, so long as there’s a chance that some of us will see ourselves reflected in the pages. We’re interested in stories which offer fresh language or a fresh perspective on issues like change and loss, midlife sexuality and dating, long-term marriage and long-term singleness, childlessness, children growing and leaving, cancer and midlife illness, friendship, humor, grief, the whole female experience. Of course we won’t all connect with a certain month’s selections. That’s impossible. But we’ll make an effort to keep the chosen books interesting and always shifting in the hope that they will eventually reflect and relate to all of us. Do you know a book that would be perfect for us to read together? Please tell us. Though we can’t guarantee your selection will be chosen, we’d love to hear your suggestions.
Here’s how we’re envisioning this, at least for now. At the end of each month, Bronwyn and I will post some thoughts on the currently featured book. Sometimes we’ll have a lot to share and sometimes it will be a few highlights. Some books will evoke a stronger reaction than others, as I’m sure some will for you. We’ll ask for your thoughts here in the blog comments and also in our Facebook group, Vivid Community (which, if you haven’t already joined, is such a fantastic space with ladies offering each other so much love and support and friendship!). Then at the same time we’ll announce the book for the following month. Some months we may go in with a few specific questions and some months we’ll just share our thoughts at the end. Sound good? Let’s begin!
Vivid Reads March 2016: Magical Journey
For March we’ve selected the tender and wise memoir Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison. I loved her two books about motherhood when my children were smaller and I have been completely captivated by her thoughts on aging and change. This book is vulnerable and intimate without being heavy. It’s an easy companion for travel or before bed reading, but I feel certain that you’ll find yourself considering her words long after you’ve finished each chapter. I almost read it one sitting—it’s that good–but I’m trying to slow down and really drink it in. Look for it at your local library or online at Powells and Amazon.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!