Took me a couple months to get back to these posts, but I still read. A lot. At first it was to drown out the pain and intrusive thoughts of losing my brother. And then it was to feel closer to him, to feel closer to light. Then it was to search for answers and knowledge and next steps. I read some of these books before we lost him, and some after. To prep for these posts, I try and jot down notes about each book as I finish them. I forget super easily and then when it’s time to write the post I am nearly finished. My notes for the Dutch House were GLOWING. I bought the book immediately after finishing it with full intentions to read it again. This never happens to me. I rarely pick up a book of fiction again and my initial reaction was I had to read it again. Here were my notes:
THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchett – “The sweetest story of a funny brother and his sister, of how she takes care of him through dark times. Will make and break your heart.” After Collin died I realized why I loved it so much. I don’t know if I am ready to read it again just yet. I know when I do it’s going to hurt real bad. But I can’t recommend it enough. Top 3 books read in 2020 for me! Tom Hanks narration is perfection. 5 Stars.
BOOK OF LONGINGS by Sue Monk Kidd – After reading the Red Tent I was ready for more biblical fiction from the view point of a woman and this did not fail me! Written about Anna, the (fictional?) wife of Jesus Christ. Kidd sat on this idea for 15 years and wrote it for 4. She said that if Jesus was married, then she was the most silenced woman of her time, maybe ever. She gave her a voice, a beautiful voice, a life, a mind, and longings, just like every one of us. When she gets to Nazareth I wept basically the rest of the book. I can’t help but draw a lot of parallels to Christ and my own brother and it was a tragically beautiful read that came at the perfect time. 4.5 Stars.
THE WILD EDGE OF SORROW by Francis Weller – During the week before Thanksgiving I had been sent a quote by Francis Weller that I posted on Instagram. I felt really called to look deeper into him and pretty soon after ordered this book. It is a beautiful beautiful book. One I would gift to anyone who was suffering a loss. But not just the death of a loved one. It touches on grief over the life we thought we’d have, love we thought we’d get, our shadow selves and the pieces of ourselves that bring us shame. Grief over the treatment of our earth (as a tree hugger I loved this part, maybe some might eye roll). It is filled with poetry and beautiful words and important help in processing all of these feelings. Really amazing work that I had never heard of, but should be a bestseller. Here’s the quote:
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine, and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.”
MOTHER’S MILK – Have you ever wondered if God was a woman, or if God was married, or if you have a Mother in Heaven like you have a Father? In my church, we refer to Her as Heavenly Mother, but she is not spoken about often, usually cited as a sign of respect. There is very little written about her because she is the most sacred. I’ve had different seasons and feelings about Her and this, and right now I am taking in everything I can about Her. This book is really wonderful. Brought me to tears a few times and would make a great gift, thanks to my sister for sending it to me!
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins – UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. Everyone needs to read it. It is long and I was not bored for one second of it. I don’t even want to say more, just go! (Also totally acknowledge and am confused why a white woman wrote it, but still -) 5 Stars. Another book in my top 3 this year!
CASTE by Isabel Wilkerson – Wilkerson makes, what I felt, a groundbreaking connection and distinction about caste vs racism and she makes it in the first 10 minutes. The rest of the book sort of hammers her point home with really upsetting stories, research and historical retellings. The people who need to read it are likely the ones who won’t but I hope they do! 3 Stars overall – 5 Stars for that first 10 minutes.
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