January, I’ve heard said, is the most depressing month of the year.
(For many, February isn’t much better. And this January in particular brings its own unique brand of wretchedness for many.)
This despite the fact that, with the holiday season and hence the longest night now in the past, not only is a new year upon us but so too are the daylight hours progressively getting longer.
The year 2016 knocked the wind out of a lot of people’s sails.
Politically, it showed considerable regression in the progress of equality and human rights.
A seemingly inordinate number of notable figures and celebrities passed away, many surprisingly young, which suggests we haven’t come as far in disease prevention, mental health treatment, and drug harm reduction as we may have thought.
It’s so easy to lose oneself in a story.
We’ve all been there: the plan to read a little before bed keeps you up turning pages half the night.
You sink your social life for days or weeks in a row spending every free moment on successive volumes (or episodes) of a book (or TV) series.
I have a friend who gets so wrapped up in her reading, she does so while brushing her teeth.
Fewer elements of medieval culture capture the modern imagination like the tournament.
Pictured as it often appears in period movies and shows, the medieval tournament calls to mind any number of the following images:
- Scores of knights clad in the colours of their family crests with their horses caparisoned to match
- Ladies in flowing gowns bestowing their scarves and other such fripperies upon their favourite competitors
- Numerous contests of skill, honour, and sportsmanship, like the medieval version of the Olympic Games, of which the joust is most anticipated activity of all
And most importantly, a refined air of chivalry permeating the entire event.
Some days – some years – retreating to a deserted island sounds like a mighty fine proposition.
Of course, it would have to be a tropical island. Being one of those people who is always cold, spending a year on an island in the Arctic – or worse, the Antarctic – would create a whole new set of problems.
I’ve been snow camping before during my great outdoorsy days, but never in -34°C (-29°F).
Like many people all over both North America and the world, I followed the live results of the US election on November 8.
Because I don’t own a TV, I attempted to stream the coverage on my laptop. Yet, because so many North Americans and people from around the world were also watching, the stream timed out every minute or so, in need of constant refreshing.
It was in this way, along with commentary from a battery-operated radio and the #ElectionNight hashtag on Twitter, that the end result eventually – astoundingly, at least to me – became clear.
The historical fiction shelf you won’t find in most bookstores and libraries
The problem with historical fiction is that it’s not actually genre.
Not the way romance or mystery or thriller are genres.
There are no defining characteristics – no genre conventions – of historical fiction other than the story taking place in a non-contemporary time period in which the manners, social conditions, and other details of the era are clearly depicted.