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Do you feel like we’re frozen in time? I go to work every day and stay busy, but then I catch myself confused about the day of the week. We all agreed that it seems like we’re living in limbo right now. During this time, we hope that you are all home and safe. When we open (and we will), we’ll do everything we can to keep you safe here, too.
I’m not an avid reader of nonfiction, but several good nonfiction books made my list of favorites. Among them is Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall. This memoir isn’t really a guide to gardening, it’s a guide to life. Carol Wall was a wealthy, bored housewife who filled her time gardening. She noticed a Nigerian man working in her neighbor’s beautiful yard and stopped to ask him a gardening question. This encounter becomes a wonderful friendship between two seemingly unlikely people, an affluent woman and a Nigerian immigrant. I can’t say more without giving away the story. It’s a beautiful book.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller has fallen into depression after publishing his bestseller, Blue Like Jazz. Two producers approach him and want to make a movie about his life. So, he decides to write his own story, and in doing so, realizes that we are all “writing” our own story. The book is filled with side-splitting hilarity and tearful truth. I asked my son, who was teaching in Italy, to read this book. He did and then began assigning it to every student in his classes. One quote from the book seems especially appropriate now, “But I also wondered if he wasn’t right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us.”
Although I can’t remember how I stumbled upon Bob Goff’s Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World, I’m glad I did. Goff’s stories are filled with laughter and some tears, as he truly lives a life where “love does”. Usually, sequels aren’t as good, but Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, is even better than the first book. Gaylon and I laughed and cried as we listened to the audiobook on our trip to Illinois. These are really, really good books.
My life has been blessed with several good and deep friendships. Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell explores her friendship with fellow author Caroline Knapp. Knapp’s bestselling book was a memoir about her struggle with alcoholism. Caldwell faced the same struggles and found a kindred spirit in Knapp. While I cried through much of this book, I couldn’t put it down. Caldwell writes so truthfully and beautifully about losing her best friend. All of us have lost someone we love and this book describes the feelings and journey we go through with the loss.
Several years ago a good friend invited me to an author signing at Barron’s Books in Longview. The author was John Berendt, known for his articles in “The New Yorker”. Berendt looked at the receipts on the money he had spent in New York City in one weekend and decided that he could actually travel and experience other parts of the country without spending more money. One of his first choices was Savannah. He instantly fell in love with the city and its history and then stumbled upon a murder mystery. His book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, tells the story of his many trips to Savannah and follows the mystery to the end. The book is well written with a host of colorful characters and a mystery that twists and turns.
I love Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore so much that I tear up a little when thinking of the story. Ron Hall was a filthy rich art dealer in Fort Worth. Denver Moore was a homeless and dangerous man. The woman who drew them together was Hall’s wife, Debbie. Trying to save their decaying marriage, Ron agrees to work with Debbie in a Ft. Worth homeless shelter. She sees something in Denver and, basically, forces her husband to befriend him. The story, told by the two voices of Hall and Moore, is remarkable. “Whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So, in a way, we is all homeless—just workin’ our way toward home.”
We’re here and looking forward to eventually seeing you all back in this building. Please take care of yourself and check on your neighbors. Happy reading!
Helen Thompson | Director - Mount Pleasant Public Library