on reflection (iii)

Weekly updates and mini review of Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark.

This week I finished most of the books on my TBR listHope in the Dark was my favorite of the week, but I also enjoyed Ling Ma’s Severance and Roxane Gay’s Ayiti, both of which I listened to through Audible, as well as Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing. While several of my Goodreads friends rated John Berger’s Ways of Seeing highly, I couldn’t force myself to finish Understanding a Photograph: the prose was just too inaccessible. I never bother with finishing a book I know I’m going to dislike, so I’ve abandoned it.

Next week, I plan on reading the finalists for the National Book Award, starting with Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers and working my way down the shortlist from there. Each of the books seems interesting, so I’ll be reviewing them all over the course of the next week.


Written in response to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, but rereleased in early 2016 in the wake of America’s deteriorating political climate, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark puts forth a lucid thesis: hope is “an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable,” and in “the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” The book consists of several short essays that survey overlooked environmental, cultural, and political victories over the past five decades. Stressing that change rarely is absolute, immediate, or straightforward, the essayist convincingly argues for approaching civic engagement as a way of life, fueled by the belief that a more just world is always possible. The speed at which Solnit synthesizes disparate ideas is astounding, and her hopefulness is as inspiring and moving as it ever has been.

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