Ireland has been hit by what we’re being told are some of the worst snow conditions since the 1980s. The buses have stopped running, the schools are closed, most people are home from work. The queue in my local shop snakes the whole way through the aisles and out the front door as everyone tries to find the few ‘essentials’ they need before the shops close up. Everyone is in a panic over having enough bread, and supermarket and local shop aisles have been swiped clear of anything resembling a sliced pan.
Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump, I stepped into one of my favourite bookstores in Dublin, Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street, to take refuge from the January cold. I started browsing through the tables of books on display and found one with a collection of books around the theme of the new American presidency, including It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and this book that particularly caught my eye – What We Do Now – Standing up for your values in Trump’s America, edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians.
If there’s one thing I can thank New York for, it’s for helping me fall in love with books and reading all over again. I always loved reading for as long as I could remember, but as the story normally goes, once you’re up to your eyes in college work it’s difficult to keep up reading that isn’t directly relevant to your coursework. I have always gone back to my books during the summer between semesters, but this time around was able to read at a volume I just hadn’t met during previous summers. Part of it was probably because I had finished college, and for the first time I wasn’t going to be facing another semester of assigned readings and it felt like I had total freedom over what I was going to read. But being in New York felt like the perfect setting for falling back into a world of books.