David Foster Wallace – the author of Infinite Jest, The Pale King, and Consider the Lobster- was not known as a dispenser of advice but in 2005 when he gave the commencement address (a speech that is most often associated with giving recent grads one last dose of advice) at Kenyon College entitled This is Water, he nailed it.
Standing in front of an audience of 22-year olds and their proud families, Wallace didn’t tell the graduates to follow their passion or dreams; instead he told the audience how important it is to live a compassionate life where we consider the people around us instead of ourselves. The words make the pursuit of happiness seem so easy (just be considerate!) but when you really think about the daily processes that define our lives, it’s not so simple because we’re not hard-wired to think of anyone but ourselves most of the time. Read more
The country that separates fathers and sons has disoriented many travelers.
Many Americans associate Libya with the September 11, 2012 uprising in Benghazi where Islamic militants attacked the American consulate killing the US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens and three others. To better understand Libya and the historical events that define its tumultuous past, it is helpful to know the following: Read more
In 2016, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond published Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Evicted) – the story of eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction in 2017, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2017 Pen/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal, and more, Evicted is the emotional and heartbreaking story of what happens when people are evicted from their homes. As the author points out, it’s not just the roof over their heads that’s lost, but also a neighborhood, friends, schools, and a sense of safety and personal dignity. Read more
Blake Bailey is best known for his biographies of very talented but troubled writers (Yates, Cheever, and Jackson) so when The Splendid Things We Planned – a personal family memoir – was published in 2014, readers took note because it’s one thing to write about other people’s lives but quite another to open the flood gates on your own family. Read more
In 1838, 35-year old Ralph Waldo Emerson sat down and wrote in his journal:
I am cheered with the moist, warm, glittering, budding and melodious hour that takes down the narrow walls of my soul and extends its pulsation and life to the very horizon. That is morning; to cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body, and to become as large as the World.
Nearly 200 years later, Emerson’s great-great-great granddaughter, Nina Riggs found profound meaning in that entry and named the book she finished a month before her death at age 39, in February, 2017, “The Bright Hour.” When the reader fully absorbs that journal entry, it’s as if the generations between Emerson and Riggs disappear and that these two people born 174 years apart shared a connection, a knowledge of how hard it is to live when the body is failing, and the beauty of experiencing something so simple – daybreak – to alleviate the suffering. Although Emerson recovered and went on to live another 44 years, dying at the age of 78, Riggs was not so lucky. Read more
Your eyes water up when you watch certain movies, you have dropped tears onto the pages of numerous books, you have cried at moments of immense personal sorrow, but death freezes you and shuts you down, robbing you of all emotion, all affect, all connection to your own heart.
On the eve of Paul Auster’s 64th birthday, the author sat down and penned a memoir called Winter Journal. Published in 2012, Winter Journal is not an “I did this; I did that” account of his life (although there is a bit of time-centered personal detail in the book) but more of a “I felt this; I felt that” type of story as he recalls how he reached a milestone where the world no longer considered him young or even middle-aged. Read more
Little Kids And Their Big Dogs is one of the most beautiful heartwarming books you will ever have the pleasure of looking through and reading. Written and illustrated by Andy Seliverstoff, a professional dog photographer, Little Kids And Their Big Dogs is not another coffee table book filled with beautiful photographs (although the images are undeniably stunning) but a book filled with images and words that capture the innocence, purity, and special bond between children and dogs. Read more
Sometimes a book reminds readers that our lives never really change despite the outside factors that seem to change daily. We write but the computer has replaced the typewriter, we raise children but the social norms change; we drink milk but we buy the containers at the grocery store instead of having them delivered; and we drive cars but with seat belts and air bags. Yes, progress allows us to do things differently but it doesn’t take away the core aspects of our lives: to grow, learn, love, procreate, work, eat, survive, struggle, and die. Life Among the Savages is just that book. Read more
Old age is not for sissies. Neither is old love, whether you’re in it or watching from the sidelines. ~Bob Morris
Bobby Wonderful may seem like a strange title for a book but to author Bob Morris, the two words make perfect sense because “Bobby” and “Wonderful” are the last words spoken by his parents before they passed away. The irony is that the author by his own admission was not a wonderful son (his brother, Jeff deserved that award). He was the irresponsible fun-loving child, the second of two boys whose job was to lighten the mood and entertain. Jeff, his older brother was the responsible one, the leader driven by duty and purpose who always seemed to make the right decision and be in the right place at the right time (there’s always one in every family). Read more