How to Survive the News

by on October 19, 2021 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

Has the news begun to depress you? As in leaving you numb or emotionally defeated?

As in non-stop warnings of the COVID-19 pandemic morphing and being “always with us?”

Or the nightmarish headlines about ransomware attacks, daily mass shootings, supply chain shortages, or the overwhelming evidence of catastrophic climate change.  All amid political amateur hour in our nation’s capitol?

If so, there is a remedy.  Especially in San Diego.

Simple.  Step outside.

Go almost anywhere is San Diego, sit, walk, and enjoy the weather.  The sun.  The sky.  The flora and fauna and the birds in the trees (if you can hear them).

Count the out of state license plates, from Alaska to Florida, Massachusetts to Washington.  These people are driving here to just soak up San Diego’s weather.  Walk.  Just look at the ocean.  Or bay.  Or a tree.

If you can’t do that, the very best next idea is even easier.

Read a book.  Not just any book.  But a book that will flex the muscles in your brain (after all the brain is just a muscle that needs constant exercise) and escape the “forever downbeat” nature of our trying times.

Here are some suggestions for almost all ages.  All guaranteed to lift you spirits and add adventure to your day.

The recent passing of Gary Paulsen, bestselling author of Hatchet, tops the list for wilderness survival.  Aimed a middle-school students, it is an easy beach-read for beginners.

For the sheer joy of reading books that brought all youngsters and many adults back to the joy of reading and imagining; J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a must.  Shortcut to the movies, but the books should be savored.

The same is true for Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet; My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015).  These will not only hook readers on the characters, but also increase the level of gratitude for life’s simple kindnesses.

Again, read the books, not a shortcut to the movies.

If you haven’t already read Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s ode to the wonder of books and their preservation in his imaginary labyrinthian catacomb, The Shadow of the Wind, (2001) you must. It transcends the mundane world and provides salve to the soul. Difficult to praise enough.

Matching that masterpiece is The Gentleman From Moscow, by Amor Towles (2019) featuring the aristocratic Count Alexander Rostov.  He is serving a life sentence under “house arrest” at the Metropol hotel, following his “conviction” by a Bolshevik tribunal.

Beautifully written.  The novel captures the Count’s fall from regal, inherited heights to sharing a simple tea on a rooftop with a homeless man.  All the while maintaining the grace of an angel.  Admirable on all levels.

For less fiction and more hair-raising fact, read This is How They Tell Me the World The World Ends, by New York Times journalist, Nicole Perlroth, about the underground cyberwarfare race. (2020) As one reviewer (Nick Bolton) wrote, “It reads like a modern-day John le Carre’ novel.  It will keep you up at night, both unable to stop reading and terrified at what the future holds.”

And, of course, there is Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (2017) by Jessica Bruder.  The story of mostly older Americans’ tales of surviving the 2007-2009 Great recession by adopting a “van-dwelling” or a nomadic lifestyle to survive.

A lifestyle that is increasing.

As with most of the books listed, all hit bestseller status and most became award-winning movies.

Two great options for surviving the news.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas October 19, 2021 at 4:33 pm

New book with super title perfect for the times:
“Cloud Cuckoo Land.”!!


Frank Gormlie October 20, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Tessie sent this to our gmail: “Yes! This is great – we are so blessed to live here. Have never lost sight of that and at time of great stress, looking at the Pacific Ocean can be a soul healing event.
Books are our salvation! Currently reading “The Man Who Ran Washington” and am ordering the Louise Penny-Hillary Clinton mystery. For history buffs I recommend Hillary Mantel. And of course there is Jane Austen…..
Really well done Colleen.”


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