Wintering by Katherine May

“When everything is broken, everything is also up for grabs. That’s the gift of winter.” 

Wintering by Katherine May is a beautifully written, if slightly meandering book. Telling the story of her own “winter” – which seems to be shorthand for both depression and, in general, tough times – she tries to extrapolate larger points about hardship and how to deal with it. It is not a self-help book but also not quite a memoir, referencing how other cultures react to winter and darkness. May tries to extrapolate a larger salutation to a personal problem, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

As someone who has suffered from bouts of depression or “lowness” in the past, May’s descriptions of sliding into (and out of) winter are beautiful and evocative. She writes,

“There are gaps in the mesh of the everyday world, and sometimes they open up and you fall through them into somewhere else. Somewhere Else runs at a different pace to the here and now, where everyone else carries on. Somewhere Else is where ghosts live, concealed from view and only glimpsed by people in the real world. Somewhere Else exists at a delay, so that you can’t quite keep pace.”

Evoking the timelessness that these nadirs (that, May rightly argues, happen to everyone) can make one feel, Wintering doesn’t offer a solution. Instead, it reminds us that every season has an end.

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