Tonight is not a good night, but I do have the perfect book for it, and that is something. I've begun Sofia Samatar's The Winged Histories. The Swordmaiden lies wounded in the ruins of a house, coming to terms with the ruins of an imperial legacy her sister cannot admit is lost and the older generation in her family has already been broken by, and my mood is matched perfectly. In my Twitter feed, which is for better or worse (mostly worse, I think) my news feed, Houston lies devastated. The most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded has flattened islands, and buildings, and people, and named countries I have only ever been vaguely aware of, and closes on Florida. A Nobel laureate a world away whose name I grew up with lays land mines and watches the massacres of a religious minority, while a would-be emperor undoes another part of the legacy of his predecessor, another Laureate who dropped bombs on people half a world away who look and talk differently from me (and him, I suppose). Like the Swordmaiden, I am not happy with my empire, but my childhood was happy, and prosperous, and peaceful (I am deliberately thinking of the Roman "desert and call it peace" here), and tonight raging storms and racial hatred are showing me the crumbling mansion, while elsewhere there are still parties and laughter.
My mood is dark, but I can cling at least to the perfect book for the mood. And I am conscious that this is a mood, not the truth of the world, and it is an empire that is crumbling slowly, not the world. (N K Jemisin's conclusion to The Broken Earth awaits me, if I want to read about the end of the world, and what comes after.) Elsewhere George Fox and my newfound Quaker faith (community? Articulation of the faith I aspire to?) promises Truth, and downstairs on the shelves, there is White Rage, when I feel like the problems around me can be solved by my understanding them better.
It's important to have a lot of books to read, so that you have the right book for every mood and moment. Tonight, at least, I do. And that is some consolation.