Showing up

Sometimes all you can do is show up. There are not words to heal a broken heart or replace what was lost too soon. You cannot fix the unfixable or fill the hole that is left. All you can do is be there and listen. And say it sucks. And ask for stories that tell a life that is profoundly mourned.

You cannot make the sorrow something different. You cannot take the pain away.

You can show up.

2015 in Books, October

I love October. It’s the perfect month for getting cozy under a blanket with a book while drinking a hot mug of tea. Heavenly, actually.

  • Specials by Scott Westerfeld
    • Specials is the third book in Westerfeld’s Uglies series. My best friends and I have a thing for young adult dystopian literature, and we pass series among ourselves as we discover them. It’s our thing, and the fact that we are squarely in the realm of “adults” now does little to dissuade us. I enjoyed reading the rest of Tally’s story, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the fourth book just as much.
  • A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot that Shook the Nation One Year after the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash
    • And here we have another book that I read at the museum. One of the gallery redesigns that I am working on is about Memphis street life from 1915-1930. The background for this period is squarely found in the Memphis race riots of May 1866 and the Radical Reconstruction decade that followed (as well as the yellow fever epidemic). I knew the riots happened and that they were important in the city’s history, but I didn’t realize how much the issue of whiteness–who was and wasn’t white–came into play. Several members of the mob who attacked the black population were Irish, and Ash does an excellent job teasing out why that matters. If you like local history or are interested in Reconstruction, this book is an excellent addition to the historiography.
  • Seriously, You Have to Eat by Adam Mansbach
    • I received this children’s book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. Mansbach writes what many parents find themselves saying on a daily basis. The humorous take on a regular frustration was welcome, and my toddler enjoyed hearing the book read. Some of the rhymes are forced, but I enjoyed the spirit of the book nonetheless.
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
    • I found this short collection of essays in my neighborhood Little Free Library. The one I liked the most was about “compulsive proofreading,” which I am guilty of doing. It’s partially an occupational hazard and mostly because I like catching written mistakes. Her reflections on books and reading also reminded me of the importance of being unashamed of your literary choices. Eclectic reading habits make for interesting readers.
  • Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne
    • Another read for the museum. I’m working on panels about the mansion’s architecture and found myself in need of a very short primer.
  • A Widow for One Year by John Irving
    • John Irving is an interesting writer. I always know that a twist is coming, but his genius lies in not letting you know when it is going to happen or how completely you will have been misled.
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    • Rowell is the author I am most excited to have found this year. Her stories are fun and well written without trying to hard. This book was about wizards and gave me some Hogwarts nostalgia while being completely its own universe and story. What’s not to like?