Breaking News

Need A Book? Here Are Some That Made Readers Feel Like They Belong In The World

"An American Childhood," Annie Dillard: "In one of the great beneficial coincidences in my life, the University of Notre Dame chose this book as one of the topic options for admissions essays. No book resonated with me as much, before or since. Dillard wrote about her parents sending her to school to smooth off her rough edges. She wrote, 'I had hopes for my rough edges. I wanted to use them as a can opener, to cut myself a hole in the world's surface, and exit through it. Would I be ground, instead, to a nub? Would they send me home, an ornament to my breed, in a jewelry bag?' I won admission to the University of Notre Dame from the essay I wrote, and the arc of my life, previously rural and culturally limited, was forever widened and redirected. What better tome for an awkward teenage girl who loves to read and write? I learned to love my rough edges, though admittedly smoothed now in some ways, but more jagged in others, and to use them." -Deanna Kunze

"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," Susan Cain: "At age 82, it settled a matter that had been troubling me. Beginning in 2012 I exchanged emails with a German school girl. She had delighted me by writing and introducing herself as a distant member of my father's family. We went back and forth easily as I followed her experiences through secondary school graduation and on to university studies. By April 2018 she was planning a student trip to the U.N. and suggested I meet her there. New York did not appeal to me as a destination, but I wanted to meet her, so I did go, accompanied by a niece. I can be a fun person for those who know me. But in New York I felt disassociated, withdrawn, largely nonparticipating. Here I was in the company of someone I wanted to know better, and with someone I do know and enjoy. Why was I feeling this way? I didn't understand. Some months later I heard about Cain's book. Reading it explained that when introverts are put into overly stimulating environments, too crowded, too loud, and surely that includes the constant motion that is sightseeing, they can feel overwhelmed. And surely this is what happened. I always suspected I fell within an introvert spectrum and this book confirmed it. I was relieved to finally understand this experience." -Barbara A. Mendelsohn

"Anne Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral," Kris Radish: "I remember walking through Target and seeing the cover. The title and the red Converse drew me in. I went home, poured a glass of wine, and spit it out reading the first line: 'There is a hole the size of a golf ball in the right side of Katherine Givin's black Bali bra.' I was that woman. I was a bit of her and Annie and the rest of the characters. Kris spoke to me as a middle-aged woman. And her book about dying, but more importantly about how you should live and love life, resonated with me and empowered me to keep living life to the fullest. I'll be reading it again this weekend!" -Bonnie Jordan

"Notes from a Small Island" and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," Bill Bryson: "As a child and teenager I moved back and forth between the segregated south and Hyde Park, for two years of elementary school, Evanston for high school, then south again for college. As a young married woman I lived for 10 years in London, where our children were born, and Brussels, before returning to Chicago. Both books reflect the dislocation I have felt much of my life and somehow made me feel affirmed and understood. Now, at age 82, we have moved to Portland, Oregon, and I realize I belong here, as I have all the other places I have lived, with the possible exception of the segregated south. And even that helped form me and is part of who I am." -Nan Conser

"Anne of Green Gables," Lucy Maud Montgomery: "Like Anne, I was outspoken and said whatever popped into my mind, which often led to difficulties for me as it did for her. I also had a few schemes up my sleeve and sometimes took others along with me, which would land us all in trouble. Anne was the person I wanted to be. She was my kindred spirit. My mother introduced me to 'Anne of Green Gables' because it was her favorite book as a child. She loved it so much that she wanted to name me Anne, but my father chose Nancy; the compromise was my middle name of Ann (but not Anne with an e). I'm very lucky that I have a real kindred spirit friend who loves Anne as much as I do. Last year, I realized a dream when I visited Prince Edward Island and did a 'ramble' through the woods and land where Lucy Maud Montgomery created Anne. I love Anne and what she brought to my life." -Nancy Castagnet

"Lonesome Dove," Larry McMurtry: "Of course the book is better than the miniseries, which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed. My sister recommended it to me. She said have a glass of water close by because Larry McMurtry's writing will make you thirsty. I really felt that I was along for the ride as they moved cattle across the country. I belonged in that book." -Tom Quain

"Five Quarters of the Orange," Joanne Harris: "I finally understood my childhood. I had everything I needed physically, but not what I needed emotionally. I never understood that until I saw the same dynamic played out in this book. My heart broke for myself and I understood so much of my life, constantly looking for love with a great hunger. But once I had it, I didn't trust it. Books can open vast vistas to the reader, but how surprised I was when reading fiction led me deep inside myself. I will never forget that experience, even though I have forgotten most of the book!" -Cindy Grau

"All-of-a-Kind Family," Sydney Taylor: "I was a voracious bookworm, but all of my favorite characters celebrated Christmas, Easter, etc. I never thought about it very much. But then in fourth grade I read 'All-of-a-Kind Family,' a children's book where the family was Jewish and they celebrated Jewish holidays. That was a thrilling experience, I saw myself in a book!" -Shelley Riskin

"First, You Cry," Betty Rollin: "My husband walked out on me and our newborn while we were living in Brussels in 1977. Eventually, and after way too much drama, I had to return to the states. By today's definition, we were homeless. I was very broken. I read 'First You Cry.' I didn't have breast cancer, but in the last chapter she discussed realizing that in putting her life back together there would never be a phoenix rising from the ground, but it would come together. It gave me enormous hope." -Mary McKay

"Suffer the Little Ones," James H. Ryan: "During my pediatric residency at Children's Memorial Hospital (now Lurie) in the 1970s, I focused my attention on acquiring the skills and knowledge to complete the requirements for certification by the American Board of Pediatrics. There was time for little else. My wife, an avid reader, happened upon 'Suffer the Little Ones' by James H. Ryan, a pediatrician. After reading some of it to me, she suggested I take the time to read it myself. In it, Dr. Ryan reflected on many of his professional experiences for which he had no formal training. His description of the late-night calls, peculiar situations and challenging family dilemmas enlightened me to the more personal side of medical practice and its intangible rewards. I knew then that I belonged." -George W. Goodlow __ Join the Heidi Stevens Balancing Act Facebook group, where she continues the conversation around her columns and hosts occasional live chats. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *