Book picks similar to
An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family by Nell Casey
I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted - and ALS
Darcy Wakefield - 2005
Then she was diagnosed with ALS, and her world turned upside down. I Remember Running is Darcy's story of change and loss and challenges during her first year with ALS, as she struggles to make sense of her diagnosis and redefine herself in the face of this terminal illness. With unflagging courage, wit, and eloquence, Darcy shares what she calls her "fast-forward" life, a life in which she applies for disability, leaves her job, and plans her own funeral as well as meets and moves in with her true love, buys a house, and gives birth to her first child in less time than it takes most of us to accomplish even one of these things. Beautifully written and wholly inspiring, I Remember Running proves that it is possible to live a rich, meaningful life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, and will move readers to see the world in a different light.
What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence
Michele Filgate - 2019
It took her more than a decade to realize what she was actually trying to write: how this affected her relationship with her mother. When it was finally published, the essay went viral, shared on social media by Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, and many others. The outpouring of responses gave Filgate an idea, and the resulting anthology offers a candid look at our relationships with our mothers. While some of the writers in this book are estranged from their mothers, others are extremely close. Leslie Jamison writes about trying to discover who her seemingly perfect mother was before ever becoming a mom. In Cathi Hanauer’s hilarious piece, she finally gets a chance to have a conversation with her mother that isn’t interrupted by her domineering (but lovable) father. André Aciman writes about what it was like to have a deaf mother. Melissa Febos uses mythology as a lens to look at her close-knit relationship with her psychotherapist mother. And Julianna Baggott talks about having a mom who tells her everything. As Filgate writes, “Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them.” There’s relief in breaking the silence. Acknowledging what we couldn’t say for so long is one way to heal our relationships with others and, perhaps most important, with ourselves. Contributors include Cathi Hanauer, Melissa Febos, Alexander Chee, Dylan Landis, Bernice L. McFadden, Julianna Baggott, Lynn Steger Strong, Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, André Aciman, Sari Botton, Nayomi Munaweera, Brandon Taylor, and Leslie Jamison.
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
Elizabeth McCracken - 2008
A prize-winning, successful novelist in her 30s, McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. But suddenly she fell in love, got married, and two years ago was living in a remote part of France, working on her novel, and waiting for the birth of her first child.This book is about what happened next. In her ninth month of pregnancy, she learned that her baby boy had died. How do you deal with and recover from this kind of loss? Of course you don't--but you go on. And if you have ever experienced loss or love someone who has, the company of this remarkable book will help you go on.
Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer
Heather Lende - 2015
Now she’s distilled what she’s learned about how to live a more exhilarating and meaningful life into three words: find the good. It’s that simple--and that hard. Quirky and profound, individual and universal, Find the Good offers up short chapters that help us unlearn the habit--and it is a habit--of seeing only the negatives. Lende reminds us that we can choose to see any event--starting a new job or being laid off from an old one, getting married or getting divorced--as an opportunity to find the good. As she says, “We are all writing our own obituary every day by how we live. The best news is that there’s still time for additions and revisions before it goes to press.” Ever since Algonquin published her first book, the New York Times bestseller If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, Heather Lende has been praised for her storytelling talent and her plainspoken wisdom. The Los Angeles Times called her “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott,” and that comparison has never been more apt as she gives us a fresh, positive perspective from which to view our relationships, our obligations, our priorities, our community, and our world. An antidote to the cynicism and self-centeredness that we are bombarded with every day in the news, in our politics, and even at times in ourselves, Find the Good helps us rediscover what’s right with the world. “Heather Lende’s small town is populated with big hearts--she finds them on the beach, walking her granddaughters, in the stories of ordinary peoples’ lives, and knits them into unforgettable tales. Find the Good is a treasure.” —Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Owen’s Daughter “Find the Good is excellent company in unsteady times . . . Heather Lende is the kind of person you want to sit across the kitchen table from on a rainy afternoon with a bottomless cup of tea. When things go wrong, when things go right, her quiet, commonsense wisdom, self-examining frankness, and good-natured humor offer a chance to reset, renew, rebalance.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted “With gentle humor and empathy [Lende] introduces a number of people who provide examples of how to live well . . . [Find the Good] is simple yet profound.” —Booklist “In this cynical world, Find the Good is a tonic, a literary wellspring, which will continue to run, and nurture, even in times of drought. What a brave and beautiful thing Heather Lende has made with this book.” —John Straley, Shamus Award winner and former writer laureate of Alaska “Heather Lende is a terrific writer and terrific company: intimate, authentic, and as quirky as any of her subjects.” —Marilyn Johnson, author of The Dead Beat
Remember the Sweet Things: One List, Two Lives, and Twenty Years of Marriage
Ellen Greene - 2009
It is a manual for healthy living, told with searing honesty and profound tenderness, and poignancy that touches you on virtually every page.”—Wayne Coffey, New York Times bestselling author of The Boys of Winter Ellen Greene’s Remember the Sweet Things is a heartfelt, deeply affecting memoir of love, devotion, and a very special marriage, reminding us about what truly matters in life. Fans of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach will appreciate this warm and loving remembrance that author Susan Wiggs calls, “a beautiful meditation on love and life, and an affirmation of the power of gratitude….A true gift to the reader.”
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids
Meghan DaumLionel Shriver - 2015
Now, however, conversation has turned to whether it's necessary to have it all or, perhaps more controversial, whether children are really a requirement for a fulfilling life. The idea that some women and men prefer not to have children is often met with sharp criticism and incredulity by the public and mainstream media.In this provocative and controversial collection of essays, curated by writer Meghan Daum, sixteen acclaimed writers explain why they have chosen to eschew parenthood. Contributors Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, Kate Christiensen, Elliott Holt, Geoff Dyer, and Tim Kreider, among others, offer a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure of parenthood.Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed makes a thoughtful and passionate case for why parenthood is not the only path in life, taking our parent-centric, kid-fixated, baby-bump-patrolling culture to task in the process. What emerges is a more nuanced, diverse view of what it means to live a full, satisfying life.
Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say
Kelly Corrigan - 2018
But that’s just what Kelly Corrigan has set out to do here. In her New York Times bestselling memoirs, Corrigan distilled our core relationships to their essences, showcasing a warm, easy storytelling style. Now, in Tell Me More, she’s back with a deeply personal, unfailingly honest, and often hilarious examination of the essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.In “I Don’t Know,” Corrigan wrestles to make peace with uncertainty, whether it’s over invitations that never came or a friend’s agonizing infertility. In “No,” she admires her mother’s ability to set boundaries and her liberating willingness to be unpopular. In “Tell Me More,” a facialist named Tish teaches her something important about listening. And in “I Was Wrong,” she comes clean about her disastrous role in a family fight—and explains why saying sorry may not be enough. With refreshing candor, a deep well of empathy, and her signature desire to understand “the thing behind the thing,” Corrigan swings between meditations on life with a preoccupied husband and two mercurial teenage daughters to profound observations on love and loss.With the streetwise, ever-relatable voice that defines Corrigan’s work, Tell Me More is a moving and meaningful take on the power of the right words at the right moment to change everything.
These Precious Days: Essays
Ann Patchett - 2021
Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart. At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a suprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both. A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be. From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.
My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me
Jason B. Rosenthal - 2020
A heartbreaking, wry, brutally honest, and creative play on a personal ad—in which a dying wife encouraged her husband to go on and find happiness after her demise—the column quickly went viral, reaching more than five million people worldwide.In My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, Jason describes what came next: his commitment to respecting Amy’s wish, even as he struggled with her loss. Surveying his life before, with, and after Amy, Jason ruminates on love, the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and what it means to heal—how he and their three children, despite their profound sorrow, went on. Jason’s emotional journey offers insights on dying and death and the excruciating pain of losing a soulmate, and illuminates the lessons he learned.As he reflects on Amy’s gift to him—a fresh start to fill his empty space with a new story—Jason describes how he continues to honor Amy’s life and her last wish, and how he seeks to appreciate every day and live in the moment while trying to help others coping with loss. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me is the poignant, unreserved, and inspiring story of a great love, the aftermath of a marriage ended too soon, and how a surviving partner eventually found a new perspective on life’s joys in the wake of tremendous loss.
Roger Rosenblatt - 2010
Long past the years of diapers, homework, and recitals, Roger and Ginny-Boppo and Mimi to the kids-quickly reaccustomed themselves to the world of small children: bedtime stories, talking toys, playdates, nonstop questions, and nonsequential thought. Though still reeling from Amy's death, they carried on, reconstructing a family, sustaining one another, and guiding three lively, alert, and tenderhearted children through the pains and confusions of grief. As he marveled at the strength of his son-in-law, a surgeon, and the tenacity and skill of his wife, a former kindergarten teacher, Roger attended each day to 'the one household duty I have mastered'-preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking. With the wit, heart, precision, and depth of understanding that has characterized his work, Roger Rosenblatt peels back the layers on this most personal of losses to create both a tribute to his late daughter and a testament to familial love. The day Amy died, Harris told Ginny and Roger, "It's impossible". Roger's story tells how a family makes the possible of the impossible.
Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo
Daphne Uviller - 2006
They don’t have to share allowances, inheritances, or their parents’ attention. But when they get into trouble, they can’t just blame their imaginary friends. In Only Child, twenty-one acclaimed writers tell the truth about life without siblings—the bliss of solitude, the ache of loneliness, and everything in between.In this unprecedented collection, writers like Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter Ho Davies reflect on the single, transforming episode that defined each of them as an only child. For some it came while lurking around the edges of a friend’s boisterous family, longing to be part of the chaos. For others, it came in sterile hospital halls, while single-handedly caring for a parent with cancer. They write about the parents who raised them, from the devoted to the dismissive. They describe what it’s like to be an only child of divorce, an only because of the death of a sibling, an only who reveled in it or an only who didn’t. In candid, poignant, and often hilarious essays, these authors—including the children of Erica Jong, Alice Walker, and Phyllis Rose—explore a lifetime of onliness. As adults searching for partners, they are faced with the unique challenge of trying to turn a longtime trio into a quartet. In deciding whether to give junior a sib, they weigh the benefits of producing the friend they never had against the fear that they will not know how to divide their love and attention among multiples. As they watch their parents age, they come face-to-face with the onus of being their family’s sole historian.Whether you’re an only child curious about how your experiences compare to others’, the partner or spouse of an only, a parent pondering whether to stop at one, or someone with siblings who’s always wondered how the other half lives, Only Child offers a look behind the scenes and into the hearts of twenty-one smart and sensitive writers as they reveal the truth about growing up—and being a grown-up—solo.
The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays
Megan Stielstra - 2017
From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality. Whether she's imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra's work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra's voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.“Stielstra is a masterful essayist.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger
A Grief Observed
C.S. Lewis - 1961
S. Lewis's wife, the American-born poet Joy Davidman. In her introduction to this new edition, Madeleine L'Engle writes: "I am grateful to Lewis for having the courage to yell, to doubt, to kick at God in angry violence. This is a part of a healthy grief which is not often encouraged. It is helpful indeed that C. S. Lewis, who has been such a successful apologist for Christianity, should have the courage to admit doubt about what he has so superbly proclaimed. It gives us permission to admit our own doubts, our own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are part of the soul's growth."Written in longhand in notebooks that Lewis found in his home, A Grief Observed probes the "mad midnight moments" of Lewis's mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God. Indecision and self-pity assailed Lewis. "We are under the harrow and can't escape," he writes. "I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace." Writing A Grief Observed as "a defense against total collapse, a safety valve," he came to recognize that "bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love."Lewis writes his statement of faith with precision, humor, and grace. Yet neither is Lewis reluctant to confess his continuing doubts and his awareness of his own human frailty. This is precisely the quality which suggests that A Grief Observed may become "among the great devotional books of our age."
Joan Didion - 2011
Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old. Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept. Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving.