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Posts tagged ‘non-fiction’

28
Jul

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

I am here. I need you to see me. I need you to see that I am here. You, world, cannot make me crumble. I am alive. I am alive. I am alive.

Clemantine Wamariya was born in 1988 in Rwanda and led an idyllic childhood until 1994, when civil war broke out between the Tutsi and Hutu (the two main groups of people residing in the country). Clemantine, six years old at the time, and her 15-year old sister, Claire were sent to live with their grandmother in the southern region of the country but when the war spread, the two young girls began a 6 year journey migrating through seven South African countries before being granted refugee status in the United States in 2000. Read more »

2
Jun

You Play the Girl

Strategic girls manage perception; idealistic girls go up against the narrative, because it’s at the root of the problem, and they get crushed every time.  ~Carina Chocano

When I was a young girl (maybe 12 or 13), I watched my mother get up early one Sunday morning and drive down to Walter’s Bakery (the local bakery known for their doughnuts, brownies, and New York-style streusel coffee cake) to buy a bag of glazed, powdered, and jelly doughnuts. She returned home, bag in hand and put the doughnuts on a plate and promptly delivered them upstairs to my five brothers who were in bed.

The problem with this extremely kind gesture is that it was Mother’s Day – that one day a year when fathers and kids are supposed to wait on mom, instead of the other way around. Even back then as a child I thought it was insane for a mother to bring her five sons fresh doughnuts in bed, especially on Mother’s Day. Where’s the justice? There wasn’t any…and that was the problem with growing up female in most homes in the 50’s, 60’s. and 70’s. Read more »

24
Oct

The Return

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 »

14
Sep

The Splendid Things We Planned

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 »

28
Jun

The Bright Hour

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 »

29
May

Winter Journal

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 »

24
Dec

Life Among the Savages

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 »

26
Nov

Bobby Wonderful

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 »

11
Aug

In Defense of Food

Michael Pollan’s New York Times bestseller In Defense of Food belongs on the modern-day shortlist of most eye-opening nutrition books, along with Forks Over Knives, The Third Plate, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma (also by Michael Pollan). All four books contribute a vast amount of information to the conversation on health and diet, with three out of the four written by unapologetic carnivores. Read more »

28
Jul

Brain on Fire

She’s still in there. I can see her. She’s still there. I know it.

Brain On FireMy Month of Madness – by Susannah Cahalan is an award-winning memoir (2012) about the author’s struggle with illness and her journey back to health. In February of 2009, 24-year old Susannah Cahalan is living in a studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, working as a reporter for The New York Post newspaper and in love with her boyfriend, a man named Stephen. Read more »