Stylized hands painted with vivid color-blocking

An ‘unguarded’ conversation

Notes from the October Literati meeting

The backdrop of COVID-19 brought a different perspective to our discussion about all things wordy on the theme of vulnerability. We delved into this broad topic from many angles—from sex and relationships to the survival of an entire species and the unprotectedness of immigrants, even touching on the far-too-relevant topic of ‘sheltering the vulnerable’—and came up with a great list of things to read and watch. 

There are strong characters who have very human vulnerabilities, behind-the-curtain observations about domestic life and inner thoughts, larger questions of flight or fight, and a few topical recommendations.

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A ceramic turquoise mug sits next to a computer showing a virtual conference on the screen

Virtual word nerds

Literary events go online

A definite pandemic perk has been all kinds of normally not-so-accessible events going virtual. From yoga classes and drag shows to author readings and pub quizzes, I’ve really enjoyed being able to participate in things that would otherwise be too far away, too pricey, or simply too inconvenient.

And sharing the experience with geographically-distant friends and family is flat out fantastic!

Here are a few recommendations for wordy events on the internet, including the next Literati meeting in a couple weeks time.

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Woman with backpack looking at books on jumbled shelves

Chronicling coming of age

Notes from the May Literati meeting

In our online Impromptue Literati discussion about all things literary related to ‘Coming of age,’ we talked a lot about what that phrase means. Do we only ‘come of age’ as we move from childhood to being an adult? What about the major shifts of becoming a parent, losing a parent, getting married, coming out or ending a relationship? Do we not grow into another version of ourselves when we move to a new place, start or complete an education, change careers?

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On men writing women

Perspectives from the March Literati meeting

I was a little worried that taking our March Literati meeting online would limit the wide and varied discussion of our book-ish club, but the screen-based format couldn’t hold us back! With a focus on male authors writing female characters, we shared some examples well-written, fully fleshed out ladies in literature along with a handful of way-less-than-good ones. And, of course, we got a little off topic and talked about other books, podcasts, and films that sparked our interest.

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A dark, winter scene of a blazing fireplace

The season of hygge

My three winters in Copenhagen taught me the true value of hygge for coping with the long winter nights. A pop culture buzzword a few years ago, the Danish concept of hygge is hard to translate, despite many books valiantly making the attempt. The literal rendering of the word is being cozy, but the Danes embrace hygge as much more than woolly sweaters and an Instagramable wood fire. It’s about creating a sense of happiness and belonging, feeling content and safe and comfortable.

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Women reading and writing on an outdoor table

Introducing Impromptue Literati

Like many of the women I’ve met at the monthly Impromptue stammtisches, I love reading and writing and discussing those two pursuits—seemingly making a regular book club a great fit. But historically I’ve failed with book clubs. I was even asked (nicely) to leave one because I kept either giving up on the assigned materials or not bothering to read them at all.

The perfect solution is a looser approach. Rather than committing to a regimented schedule of monthly meetings with assigned books, what about something less rigid that fits with Impromptue’s aim to encourage women from all backgrounds to meet, exchange, and learn from each other? Our take on a book club—which we’re calling Impromptue Literati—will get together about six times a year for a discussion about anything language- or word-related—and ideally created by women.

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