Wintertime reading …

It’s turned cold the last couple of weeks, and it finally feels like winter here in New Zealand. I am not a big fan of the cold, wind and rain but one thing I always find remarkable in winter is the stark nature of trees once their foliage has fallen. As I came out of work the other night, I couldn’t help notice that this tree had one tiny leaf just hanging on for dear life. I probably looked a little nuts taking a photo of a tree on the outskirts of a carpark, but it just appealed to me at that moment in time. So I tried to capture it in a photo as best I could.

Aside from the miracles of nature one other part of winter I like is that you feel you have permission to stay indoors and read, write and create. So, I have been doing a little bit of all three and will comment on my latest reads below:

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson (fiction)

When I picked up this book I thought it was going to be light and fluffy chick lit, but that wasn’t quite the case. While it is fiction it is based on a true story of a girl by the name of Alice Martineau who had cystic fibrosis, but was determined to be a singer. The author (Alice as well), wrote a beautiful story of how a young women keeps up her enthusiasm and zest for life despite having one very cruel disease. It is a fabulous read, and I thought that she portrayed the voices of Alice, Tom (the boyfriend) and Mary (the mother) very well and managed to write a story showing the perspectives of those involved around the main character. Quite an emotional read and very relatable.

The Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer (fiction)

I enjoyed this novel. It’s about two childhood friends (one wealthy, one poor) and how their relationship forges ahead through life. Based in Nantucket and cities on the east coast of the US, it’s a story of how long term friendship changes. Some reviews of this book are a little scathing – largely, about how forgiving or naive one of the characters is – I didn’t feel that, just that she was optimistic about life. I will try more of this authors books.

All The Rage by Darcy Lockman (non-fiction)

My Good Reads Review:
“I thought this book was well constructed, culminating in the final chapter on what it is that we (women) are trying to achieve by equal partnership. I found this easy to read with thought provoking ideas about beliefs and lots of different angles. While it is written by a women (with a women’s perspective) I believe the book wasn’t intended to ‘rage’ at the male gender – just gently point out why there is still an imbalance in the 2000s for something most women have been trying to achieve for some time. ”

And a little more relating to my life – so this book quotes a lot of stats about women still doing more housework and child care on top of a 40 hour work week and how this has come about. As Generation X, I can see the difference between my Grandmother, Mother’s generation and mine, and also my daughters generation. How many of our own beliefs about women’s roles are social constructs versus real gender traits? What beliefs am I passing on to my daughter? Is this part of the point (or problem) about why we (women) end up carrying a bigger workload at home? There was also a lot of good material about how women dictate what goes on in the home with regards to ‘how’ things are done, what standards are to be kept e.g. how you stack the dishwasher, how you do the laundry. This miniscule dreary and routine stuff of life can cause many a relationship argument! Plus discussion on the gender bias for men to still be the provider.

Currently I work a 20 hour week (outside of the home), plus I do the majority of home, child care and scheduling, bill paying etc. Phil would do more than an average male (I believe) and this is another theory in the book, that women’s expectations of what is enough is quite different to the expectations they have on themselves. From next month Phil is going to trial a 20 hour work week for 3 months. This book was a timely read for me – how much of what I do is control and power related (by me), and how will our relationship and sharing of the domestic duties change? Will it make me happier? Am I part of the problem?

The Mother Dance by Harriet Lerner, Ph, D.

This book was published back in 1998 and is about ‘How Children Change Your Life’. While it is more than 20 years old the majority of the content about the experience of motherhood is still applicable in 2021. There are snippets of the author’s own experiences, as well as her clients throughout the book which make it diverse and very relatable. What this book reinforced to me is that no parent is perfect, and the importance of sharing your troubles as well as your successes. Plus, when I have a different belief to Phil on parenting, that it is a good idea to examine why that is my belief, or for him to examine why he holds that belief – sometimes we are hanging on to things for interesting reasons in our past. One final thing, she points out is that ‘kids are the benefactors of the work we do on ourselves’.

On a different note, our family took a drive to Thames last week during the school holidays. We visited the Thames Museum, and I was fascinated by their displays of cameras and typewriters.

One of the displays about poliomyelitis featured this wheelchair and iron lung used for polio patients. We have come a long way in the treatment of many diseases and conditions. This was only back in the 1920s to 1960s, so not that long ago.

All four of our family have now been for our first Covid vaccine and have a couple of weeks before the next one. Meanwhile New South Wales cases are increasing, and part of the population are very anti vaccine and anti lockdown. Let’s hope everyone can work together to overcome this pandemic and appreciate just how lucky we are in 2021.


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