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November’s Stories and Poems

Written by Lily Kehoe, 9th November 2022

As the days shorten and the nights draw in, we’re taking inspiration from this year’s Reader Bookshelf for November’s Stories and Poems by finding ways in which we can come Out of the Dark.

The theme of The Reader Bookshelf 2022-23 is ‘Light and Darkness’, and this month’s selections remind us that light cannot exist without darkness. The wintertime brings physical darkness which can often be a challenge to contend with, having an impact on our mood and well-being. To cope with other struggles can feel harder still against such conditions, but there is light to be found if we look for it – whether in the kindness offered by strangers, the natural world that surrounds us, being together with those who love us, or in having the chance to lighten our load by saying what we’re thinking and feeling. In some instances, perhaps the darkness can even be something we embrace.

Alongside other choices, we’re featuring several texts from The Reader Bookshelf: this month, Wintering by Katherine May, Anton Chekhov’s Collected Stories and Through Corridors of Light, edited by John Andrew Denny, get some time in the spotlight. An additional treat comes as we delve into the Children and Young People’s Bookshelf, with an extract from A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr.

November’s stories and extracts are:

‘Losing Sight of the Welsh Mountains’ (extract from Ruth) by Elizabeth Gaskell

‘Metamorphosis’ (extract from Wintering) by Katherine May

‘Trees Can Speak’ by Alan Marshall

‘House’ (extract from A Glasshouse of Stars) by Shirley Marr

‘Misery’ by Anton Chekhov

We move through dark places in November’s poetry choices – again, darkness in the physical senses, but also confronting difficult emotions such as fear, anger and uncertainty. Is there light to be found in acceptance of not only feelings that challenge us, but in realising that just as the seasons and times change, so do our feelings and perspectives? There’s something in the expansion of our other senses when darkness surrounds which feels all the more vital in getting towards the light.

‘To Darkness’ by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)

‘Beauty’ by Edward Thomas

from The Prelude, Book 1, Lines 401 – 427, by William Wordsworth

‘Let Evening Come’ by Jane Kenyon

‘The Astonishing Light of Your Own Being’ by Hafiz of Persia (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

If you're a Reader Leader head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

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