Happy Valentine’s Day! When I thought I about a post for today, I looked through my list of books read to find some great love stories and – surprise, surprise – there were none! I guess romantic texts are not at the top of my reading priorities. I have, however, read quite a few books that have made me appreciate the ideas people have and cherish the oppurtunity to learn from them. Although sometimes (maybe now particularly) it may seem as if people are a negative, panicky, slow-to-real thought species, these books counter that and restored my love of people and ideas.
- The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls writes a poignant memoir about early life in her non-traditional family. When he was sober, her father would take them on amazing adventures of the imagination and ignite their passion for life, regaling them wtih tales of the “glass castle” he would one day build them. When he was drunk, however, her father was self-destructive and dishonest. Through her adult life, she has to learn to come to terms with her past and the family she tries to distance herself from. This is a beautiful story about resilience, love, and accepting people as they are, faults and all.
- When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi was a surgeon whose cancer diagnosis caused him to suddenly see illness from two perspectives – one as the “actor,” the physician who acted upon his patients and took control in the name of health and recovery; the other as the one “acted upon,” who had to relinquish control to others when his health began to fail. In this book, he examined love, life, death, and the medical profession. It is a short book that will undoubtedly leave you in tears at the end, but so worth the read. His voice is lyrical and unfailingly postive in the face of so much sorrow.
- Be Frank With Me – the story of a unique little boy, the caregiver who loves him, and the mother who must learn to appreciate his gifts and challenges. This book is touching, heart-breaking, and emphasizes the appreciation of people, no matter who challenging they may be at times.
- A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story – dual narratives of a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. This book shines a spotlight on experiences so far removed from what we live in Canada that it reminds you of the strength and generosity of humanity, as well as perseverance over circumstance.
- The Cellist of Savajevo – Set in 1990s Savajevo, this story is told from the perspective of three narrators; a strong female sniper and operative, a father who goes to extraordinary lengths to get water for his family, and an older gentleman attempting to read a bakery. After witnessing a mortar attack that leaves twenty-two people dead, a cellist decides to play in the crater, just one song, every day for twenty-two days. The music weaves the three stories together and pays beautiful tribute to people who senselessly lost their lives and those who live every day in mortal fear. Strength and hope rain off the pages, the writing is lyrical and beautiful, and the reader is able to witness an act of bravery that transcends the violence around them.
After reading these books, you’ll see that there is love and hope in the world still. What books would you add to the list?