My thoughts: As an (almost) middle aged woman who has been battling insomnia, I felt like I had to read this book. Calhoun dives into the issues surrounding middle aged women who are part of Generation X, often the most overlooked generation. Although I was born in the early 1980s and therefore not technically considered part of Generation X (defined as those born in the 1960s and 1970s), I felt like I could still relate.
The main premise around this book is that women of this generation are told from a very early age that we can have it all; we can get married, go to college, and be whoever it is that we want to be. But when we actually go out into the real world, we realize that that is often an unrealistic standard. And when we try our best and work as hard as we can and still don’t get to live out our dream lives, it’s an incredible disappointment. We feel like losers and that there must be something wrong with us.
Calhoun does a wonderful job of dissecting the many different aspects of women’s lives. It really puts into perspective all of the different struggles that women of Generation X have to deal with. Reading this book didn’t make me necessarily feel better, but it made me feel less alone in knowing that I’m not the only one who feels like maybe this was all a little too much to live up to.
As of the beginning of September, for absolutely no apparent reason, I have developed horribly severe insomnia. I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t sleep for three nights straight and that was WITH sleep aids. Since then, I have gotten some nights where I sleep a few hours here or there, but the insomnia has never really gone away. I’ve tried all types of over the counter medications… Niquil, ZZzzquil (which I gather is kind of the same thing), Melatonin, Unisom, and Sleepytime Tea. I tried going without any screen time at night. No lights, no phone, no TV, no Kindle. I’ve meditated, listened to Podcasts and light classical music, exercised everyday until my body became exhausted, and still have gotten nowhere.
So I did what any avid reader who can’t sleep would do. I picked up “The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern. No, it didn’t cure my insomnia, but I felt like it would be a good read since it falls into the theme of my life right now: dark, sleepless, and mysterious (the mystery in my life being… why the hell can’t I sleep right now?)
The Night Circus is about a circus that is only active at night, much like my brain these days. When it was published in 2011, it gained a lot of hype and is still very popular with readers 8 years later.
Although it’s often categorized as a fantasy/romance, I figured I’d give it a try despite not being a fan of either one of those genres. Currently, I’m about 300+ pages into this and I would personally say it’s more fantasy than anything else. There’s a little bit of romance, which I can only assume escalates further along in the book, but it’s not what drives the plot.
Speaking of the plot: it’s slow. Lots of things happen, but I’m not seeing a lot of movement. I’m guessing these plot points get tied up at the end, but I can’t say until I actually finish the book. I still have a good 150 pages or so to go. Yeah, it’s long. My paperback edition is over 500 pages.
The main story line follows two magicians, Celia and Marco, who are competing against each other in a mysterious battle, much of which is not known to the reader. Despite this rivalry, the pair fall in love.
I found some of the minor characters to be far more interesting than Celia and Marco. There’s Widget and Poppet, a pair of red-haired twins who possess magical powers; the German clock-maker, who creates clocks that are more like pieces of artwork; and Prospero the Enchanter, Celia’s father, who is also a magician. These are just a few, but each of the characters in The Night Circus has something interesting to add to the story. It seems like nobody is just plain ordinary.
The thing I love about this book is the descriptions of all things strange and bizarre. Morgenstern has an amazing imagination and her attention to detail really brings the magical scenes to life.
I felt like this was a good book to pair with my insomnia. It’s strangely comforting to read in the late hours when I can’t sleep. And even though I’m not dreaming, my mind is travelling into a new fantasy world that is stranger than any dream I could ever imagine.