These are just two stacks out of four big stacks of books that I’m working on reading right now.
And these aren’t even the required school books.
One of the books that I read recently was Charlotte Pierce-Baker’s memoir This Fragile Life: A Mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son. It’s a wonderful, touching story of what it’s like to be the parent of a young adult diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It wrenches at the heart without being self-pitying, informs without being focused on an educative aim.
The story has an interesting perspective because Pierce-Baker and her husband are married, affluent, educated African American parents without a knowledge of mental health issues in their family. It addresses the difficulty of seeing her son arrested for drug issues (due to self-medicating the bipolar), the benefits of having money to help with his mental health problems (and the limitations of that) and the hard experience of learning how to help her adult child and when and how to set boundaries.
Her son’s poetry is woven throughout the book. It’s beautiful to see her use his words to share his story in both his voice and hers.
Every time that I go to the library I come home with dozens of books. I read most of them but there are always a couple that I don’t get to. This time around the two I didn’t read were Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche and OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu.
DeRoche’s book is one I might return to, though. It’s a memoir about the Australian author’s experience spending a year in San Francisco, meeting the man of her dreams and going sailing around the world with him despite a fear of deep water. It didn’t grab me at first, but sometimes that’s just a timing issue. I like travel memoirs, I like reading books related to life in San Francisco and I like true love stories. There was nothing wrong with the writing so the book is on my radar as one I might want to read, just not right now for some reason. It seems like a good vacation / airplane trip read.
Have you read either of these books?
Recently I was at the library and picked up a copy of Tim Manley’s illustrated book Alice in Tumblr-land: And Other Fairy Tales for a New Generation.
It’s a quick read and has some cute stuff in it that made me smile.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to participate in a lovely book tour for the book Antiphony by Chris Katsaropoulos so I’m happy to share that book here with you today.
“What if the Universe is really a giant thought?”
This is the question posed by a leading theoretician in String Theory physics at the start of this book. The book doesn’t so much answer the philosophical question as explore the ramifications of being someone in a field who radically changes the perspective that field has long taken. Powerful!
I enjoyed this book a lot. Here are some of the main reasons:
I actually wasn’t familiar with Chris Katsaropoulos before now but it turns out that he’d written another novel called Fragile and has also authored a number of non-fiction titles and poetry.
I recently read this special book that is a teen’s educational memoir about what it’s like to live with autism.
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism was written by Naoki Higashida. He’s a Japanese writer who worked with a teacher using a system of pointing out what he wanted to say on alphabet cards, answering questions about what it is like to be inside the body of autism.
The book has been translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell and an introduction has been added by David Mitchell. They have an autistic child and explain how reading this book finally helped them to understand a lot about their child and gain more patience, compassion and communication with their kid.
The book is mostly Q&A format. The teen author highlights that this is just his personal experience and that he can’t say for sure what it is like for anyone else to be autistic. But he explains a lot about his experience in a way that might answer questions for others wondering what an autistic child is thinking or why they behave the way that they do.
For example, he addresses the question: “why do you ask the same questions over and over?” He explains that whereas other people seem to have their information stored in chronological order or clear files in their brain, his memory is more like a pool with dots of information. He says, “I’m always picking up these dots – by asking my questions – so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent.” And he goes on to explain that repeatedly asking the same question also offers the benefit of allowing him to play with spoken language because words or phrases he’s familiar with are easiest for him for conversations.
In addition to the Q&A there are some short stories/ essays integrated into the writing. It’s a quick read and one that I found really powerful. It helps remind me that people experience every single thing differently from others – not just autistic people but all people. We don’t all remember the same, perceive the same, experience the same. It makes me want to be more curious about what others are experiencing and why they do what they do, rather than sitting in my experience and judging what’s happening from the outside.
I shared this (and other books I read) on Instagram. Follow me there.
A few weeks ago I rediscovered the joy of reading. It’s not that I’d exactly forgotten it. And I certainly hadn’t stopped doing it. But mostly lately I’ve been reading for work or for school so when I was looking to do something “relaxing” as downtime I’d turn on the TV. I got pretty TV-obsessed for awhile there. But then the school semester ended, I didn’t have my new textbooks for the Spring yet and I remembered that I actually really like just taking a few hours, shutting out the world and immersing myself in a book. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot.
One of my recent reads was Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller. It’s the story of a girl who grew up in a home with parents who were hoarders. It’s her story of getting away from that in her own life and yet having it always kind of trail her. It’s the story of having secrets in your family and learning to share those secrets with the world. It’s the story of having fallible parents that you love anyway, parents you learn to set boundaries with and then cross your own boundaries for because life shifts things sometimes. It’s a sad story but a story of strength and a touching story with what basically amounts to a happy ending. I liked it.
I love memoirs. I could read nothing but memoirs for the rest of my life and probably be satisfied with my reading world. Of course I do read other things but there’s something about memoirs that just capture me. I like the first person story. I continue to believe that we each have a really unique experience and perspective of the world. And yet there is also something that ties us each together as humans no matter how disparate our experiences. And so I believe that in the sharing and telling and hearing of stories something magical happens, a sort of growth of the collective unconscious. Through reading memoirs I understand others better and understand myself better as well.
This book did give me some food for thought (don’t they all?) The author notes that people didn’t ever used to know what hoarders were; there wasn’t a recognized name for it. Now we all know and it’s due in part to the popularity of reality TV series like the show Hoarders on AETV. It’s a show I’ve watched a lot; I’m fascinated by the stories of the lives that play out there and how they do and do not relate to my own experience of life. The author at first couldn’t bring herself to watch those shows. Then she sat down and watched them and felt pain, knowing that a lot of the people watching the show were just voyeurs who couldn’t possibly understand. I find that I think about reality TV shows like this the same way that I do about reading memoirs, as a way to get insight into the stories of others to better understand the human world around me. But of course the shows are sensationalized and short and I wonder if there is a large difference between my experience of learning about people through TV vs. learning through memoirs. I’m still gnawing on this thought …
What memoirs have you read and loved? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
I am currently working on a creative project for school that is going to track my own personal human development through the books that were most important to me at different stages in my life. I have always been a voracious reader and books have both reflected my interests at any given time and also enhanced and influenced my interests. They have been a key part of my personal development.
The earliest books that I really remember reading are the Nancy Drew books. I read the entire series with my mom when I was a child. I could easily have read them on my own but it was something that we shared together. I remember sometimes going shopping for the books with her, instilling an early love of bookstores. I remember sitting in my bed while she read them to me.
There were books I loved before that, though, even though I was too little to remember them. When I asked my mom what Continue reading
I don’t typically read a lot of teen or Young Adult books but every once in awhile one will catch my eye at the local library and I’ll pick it up. I do love that they are such fast reads and always offer reminders of what it was like to be a teen. Recently I read The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen FinneyFrock.
The basic story is that main character Celia Door was horribly bullied by some girls in her school. In reaction she turned “dark”, writing a lot of poetry, hiding behind a goth exterior, pretending not to care what anyone thinks of her. As high school starts she befriends new student Drake. She promptly gets a crush on him but then learns he’s gay … still it’s nice for her to have a friend and especially one that other kids see as cool. A series of things happen and her poetry book gets stolen and a poem about Drake being gay is posted all over the school, effectively outing him. It ultimately doesn’t have the dramatic impact you might think it would and the story kind of ends with quietly shortly after this scene. The title of the book refers to a plan Celia has to get revenge against the girls who bullied her but she basically realizes in the end that developing her own life, creativity and friendships is of more value.
I can’t really say I liked or didn’t like the book. It was just one of those things I sat down and read in a quick sitting to zone out and relax my mind and for that I totally enjoyed it. But if I had to get nitpickier, I’d say here are the reasons I liked it:
Back in March 2012 I mentioned reading, and enjoying, Veronica Roth’s book Divergent. The book is the first in a trilogy and is on its way to becoming a movie now. And lately I’ve been doing some articles about Divergent for a fun fan page. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve written about …
I enjoyed writing an article explaining the basics of each of the five factions that make up the community in Divergent. I also created some art for the article:
Each of the five factions in the book wears a specific type of clothing described by author Roth. The main faction of the protagonist is a goth/punk inspired faction with lots of black and tattoos while the peacful faction (amity) is a hippie-loving bohemian faction that wears a lot of red and yellow. Learn more about Divergent Fashion.
I had a really fun time going through the blog of author Veronica Roth and finding out the secrets she shared about herself before she became a famous author. In another post I wrote about the fact that the author is working on a series of digital short stories about the character of Four from Divergent.
Main character Tris is an interesting and complex teenager. I loved doing a post rounding up various readers’ thoughts about her.
(a word tag cloud I created with the words people use most about Tris)