Welcome to week four, you can find links to the previous three posts at the bottom. We continue on the emotional merry-go-round. Last week focused on the wise and calming books, so this week we’re turning to darker topics. Books about death, dying and grieving. Surprisingly some of them actually offer a lot of consolation and hope. Helping to put things in perspective. Still, admittedly, if you get depressed easily this may be a list to avoid for now.
This book starts with an emotional earthquake and from then on keeps the tension all the way to the end. Veronica Hegarty has to tell her mother that her brother, Liam, is dead. She is shocked and grieving herself and now she has to inflict this news on her mother, but at the same time, she is grappling with resentment towards her mother for making her and Liam two of the twelve siblings, almost as if it took her individuality away. After finally sharing the news she travels to the UK to identify and recover her brother’s body.
It was an intense book, an emotional rollercoaster about a grieving family, trying to understand the past and look forward to the present.
A whole book written in a single sentence. It was a truly beautiful read. Striking the right balance between the mundane and metaphysical. Raw and painful, but also full of light and hope. I didn’t expect that from it, so, for me, it turned into one of those rare gems.
The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
What does your brain do when your loved one dies? It tries to save itself. By any means possible. Joan Didion analyzed this process by living through it and writing herself back to the harsh reality. With a clear sharp eye, she analyses the escape plan her mind hashed and executed for a year after her husband’s death. Her acute observation as much a way of dealing with this as the ‘magical thinking of the year before.
Somewhere Towards the End – Diana Athill
What a book! What a woman! I really wish I can retain this kind of energy throughout my life. Diana Athill invites us to chat with her about getting old. What does it mean to her, when did she realize she moved from middle age to old, how she deals with it. Athill does not sugar coat being old, she does not try to convince us everything is fine, but she firmly believes being old is a stage of life – life being the keyword, she focuses on living, not on getting old.
Rzeczy, których nie wyrzuciłem – Marcin Wicha
It is a beautiful book, Wicha writes about his mother, remembering her through her things, as he tries to clean up her apartment after she died. It is a very moving book, sometimes funny, sometimes sad.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter
By now a modern classic of books about grief. Rarely you get to see it so raw and yet so beautiful. It’s a short book, hence a short recommendation. Read it!
Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg
This is a book about the unthinkable. All your family is gone, in one sweep… There’s no one left. How do you deal with this? Should you deal with this? Or maybe this is a blow that has to kill you?
I expected a kicking, screaming and wailing book, but this book is surprisingly quiet. Introspective.
Another book about death, loss but also conscious withdrawal from the world that ends tragically. A beautiful book, way better than the movie (as often happens), a lot more in=depth and layered than anything you can show in 90 minutes. It differs from the other books on this list because here the death is the end, not the beginning. It is the result, not the loss to overcome.
after you’d gone – Maggie O’Farrell
The pervasive feeling is one of loss, just like in life every single character has lost something extremely important to them and they deal with this loss in different ways. They all struggle to understand, to cope and to move on, or in some cases to actually not move on, to stay to keep the memories alive. There is a lot of love and sorrow in this book, it may seem overly emotional from my description, but O’Farrell’s prose prevents that.
Books for the Lockdown – Happy and Funny
Books for the Lockdown – Dystopian and Depressing
Books for the Lockdown – Wise and Calming
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @vkphotospace.com
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