Books

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I love memoirs.

As I live this crazy life, as I ride the bumps, take the sharp curves, marvel at the beauty, weather the hardships, as I cry and laugh and pause, I wonder and wonder how we all do it, how other people do it, what their triumphs and weaknesses look like.

People’s stories I want to devour.

I am the woman who finds it a great joy to sit at the foot of an elderly person and become the well that they pour their memories into.

Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more I say.

Since January I’ve read 8 memoirs, all written by women. And they have all given me something; They all now live inside of me. Isn’t that the magic of a story, whether fiction or a life, when it embeds itself within you and changes you, shapes you? Makes you look at things differently?

I brought in the new year with What Falls From The Sky.  I love this book, love the space the author imposes upon herself by going a year without internet. In that space she rediscovers her religion. I think of her and that space and try very hard to create some for myself and dream of what will fill mine.

That space is also explored in The Burn Zone, an exploration into how one falls into a cult. Even after pulling herself out, the author’s life is deeply changed with all the meditation the cult leader had her do and encourages the reader to “invite stillness,”  the one thing she took from her horrendous experience that she didn’t want to lose. I have those words written in chalk upon a small blackboard that sits in our living room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for my computer only to see those words and I just sit still instead.

From A Life Of Her Own I’ve meditated on the bigness of it all, this human journey, the chapters that veer and the ones that come back around. This memoir showed me that no matter how perfect or successful a life seems we all have our struggles, our deep terrible losses. Such a good reminder in this day of cropped lives that fit so neatly into little boxes.

Inheritance was a profound read to me as an adoptive parent. What makes us who we are? Who creates us? What defines us? What is nature to us, and where does nurture erase, or blur those lines ?

Sick was a page-turner for me. I am now completely terrified of ticks. I also realize how important it is–especially for women–to demand care when you know you need it.

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a book I desperately didn’t want to end and will probably read again. My goodness how flawed we all are. How deeply we all want to be loved. How random life can be and how “it ain’t over till it’s over.”

I just finished Love You Hard. My God, this book. Another I did not want to end. It’s a tragic and beautiful meditation on love. As the author listens over and over and over again to her husband’s memories as he tries desperately to reassemble his past after a horrific brain trauma, she writes, “The story of his life is now imprinted on my soul.” Just as her story is now imprinted on mine.

And of course I had to read An African Love Story. This memoir sent a deep longing into me to experience Africa in a way I never can. In this expat life we live in bubbles, are dropped in, sealed off,  and as much as we try and make air holes we are still encased, watching from within our own worlds, worlds away from the one we are in.  While it is amazing in its own way, to see the world and live for a moment in time in places I only dreamed of, I would do anything to take a time capsule to spend just one day as Daphne Sheldrick, in the wildest parts of this country, surrounded by elephants. To see and experience Kenya through her eyes.