May, 2006 Archives

Book: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Recommended: yes

A few days before Christmas 2003, Joan Didion’s daughter became ill and went into a coma; several days later, her husband died. A few days later, she wrote these words:

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

After some months passed, she began writing The Year of Magical Thinking:

This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

And it’s a good book. It feels honest and real, but it’s not like a journal or an outpouring of emotions. It’s more like asking questions and trying to figure things out. It’s very intellectual for a book about someone who’s lost their husband and comes close to losing her child, but not in a boring way. I actually read it twice because I felt I had missed something the first time. I think I got it the second time.

Time is the school in which we learn.

Book: When in Mexico, Do as the Mexicans Do by Herb Kernecker
Recommended: Maybe

OK, so I didn’t really read this book all the way through. I just flipped through it and read the parts that seemed the most interesting and/or applicable to my upcoming Mexico vacation. It had a lot of interesting and detailed stuff, but I currently have 7 other books checked out from the library so I just hit the parts that seemed relevant.

But if you’re interested in Mexican culture, or are just one of those people who don’t have any understanding or sympathy for the people who leave Mexico to enter the U.S. illegally, you might want to read this one.

Very informative. Just…a little much for me right now. And probably a little much for most people. But there you go.

So cute!

the beach

May 15th, 2006

Two weeks ago I was at the beach.

I love the beach.

I love watching the ebb and flow, the waves coming in and going out. I love hearing the water rise and fall, crashing onto the sand. I love smelling the air, the salt, the wind. I love the feel of cool ocean water running over my feet and sinking them into the sand a little bit more with each wave.

There’s nothing like it.

I miss it.

I used to drive out to the beach after a rough night at work; I’d walk beside the water until I reached the rocks and I’d sit there until the sound of the water would soothe me and remind me how small this one day was, and how big everything is.

The ocean is powerful and vast and like nothing else.

I miss the years I spent living close to the beach. I wish I lived as close to it as I used to. I wish I had an ocean I could go to whenever I felt the need for peace.

There’s nothing like it.

I miss it.

Book: Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck
Recommended: Yes.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The library had it for nearly a year before I decided I’d read it, and I’m immensely glad I did. The writing is very, very good; so many books are strong in content but not in writing ability, but this one had both.

It’s a memoir, sort of. The book centers on the author’s repression and eventual recovery of childhood abuse, which doesn’t sound like pleasant reading (and at times is very unpleasant), but what she discovers and how she writes about it is very profound.

She grew up in the Mormon church and, as the title implies, eventually leaves the church, her past, and essentially her family. It’s a sad book on many levels, but the sadness is well-balanced with bits of joy and beauty and discovery that I felt outweighed the dark parts.

I’m glad I read it. I’d even read it again someday.