The New Old Me

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The New Old Me by Meredith Maran

What would you do if, at age sixty, your marriage ended and you lost all your money? Most of us would panic, freak out and maybe even give up. But Meredith Maran decided that a new start was needed, so she moved to a new city, took a 9 to 5 job and started over again. 

Meredith Maran’s writing is tough, tender, funny and brutally honest. She lays her emotions bare, for all readers to see, as she navigates her new life. From page one, I was drawn in to her story and I couldn’t put it down until I knew how things turned out for her. By the end of this book, you’ll have cried, seethed, cheered and laughed. This is not only a memoir, but also a how-to book about dealing with change and getting older. 

The New Old Me by Meredith Maran 

 

The Weight of Him

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The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan 

An enthralling book about a family fractured by tragedy and one man’s attempt to make life better for those around him by starting with himself. There are layers to Billy Brennan, both literally and figuratively, and Ethel Rohan expertly peels them back to expose  his huge heart. 

Billy’s family suffers a horrific loss and he decides the only way to make something positive out of the senseless tragedy is to lose half his body weight. Inspired by a walk-a-thon at his son’s school, Billy decides to raise money by shedding 200 pounds. His family and friends think he’s crazy. At times, he agrees with them. 

Rohan’s writing puts you right there with Billy. You’ll root for him and you’ll cry with him. She adeptly walks the line between pathos and inspiration. This book will leave you with an appetite for more of her writing. 

The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan 

 

The Bright Hour

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The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

Nina Riggs lived the way she wrote; with humor, wit and a strong sense of purpose. Her book is filled with emotional insight and a brilliant message. 

Much like Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, this book isn’t only about cancer and dying, but about living and living well. She details her struggles with clarity and an unflinching honesty. 

By picking up this book, you’re like a boxer entering the ring. You know you’re going to take a few punches, and they’re going to hurt. You’ll be bruised and battered when the bell finally rings, but it’ll be worth it. The lessons you learn will make you stronger and give you more energy. You’ll also feel a profound sense of gratitude. 

At least that’s how I felt when I finished this uplifting and glorious book. I felt like someone had gut-punched me. It was hard to breath and there were tears in my eyes. But I also felt invigorated, and determined to get the most out of every single day I have left. That’s her gift to every person who reads this book.  

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

Letters to a Young Writer

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Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

Much like Rilke’s book Letters to a Young Poet, Colum McCann’s book gives advice on how to be a better writer and so much more. This book is instructional as well as inspirational. You’ll want to write more and write better. 

The 53 letters in this book contain advice on everything from following the rules of grammar to there are no rules. He exhorts the reader to fail, fail, fail. He offers advice on competing only with yourself, writing dialogue, editing, reading aloud and how to get an agent. The longest letter is seven pages. The shortest is three words; Rejoice. Read Joyce. 

My favorite piece of advice: Don’t be a dick. 

So whether you write for a living, have a blog, dash off the occasional letter or just post comments on Facebook, this book will help do it better. 

Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann

Word By Word

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Word By Word by Kory Stamper

Did you ever stop and wonder bow dictionaries get made and who makes them? Yeah, me neither. But one day I was browsing the new releases on Amazon, I came across Kory Stamper’s ‘Word By Word’ and I was suddenly curious about how dictionaries were put together. So I ordered the book. And it turned me into an even bigger word nerd. 

If you thought all lexicographers were basement-dwelling word nerds, you’re not far off the mark, according to Kory Stamper. Instead of the basement, they hide in their cubicles and spend their days agonizing over how best to define surfboard. Is it a board? Is it a platform? Is it used or is it ridden? Not only do they have to define the words, but they also have to write or find examples of the words they define. And there are rules to follow when writing examples: no jokes, no names, be careful with pronouns and avoid personal bias. Who knew? 

The book also covers the history of dictionaries, their purpose and their future being threatened by the internet. And the chapter on bad words is quite entertaining and informative. 

If you love to read and have an affinity for words and well-turned phrases, you’ll like this book. Like the dictionary, I’ll be returning to this book again and again. 

Word By Word by Kory Stamper

Norse Mythology

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Have you ever wondered what happened to Odin’s eye? Or maybe you wanted to know how Thor got his hammer and why the handle is so short? Where did Loki disappear to and will he ever come back? What is Ragnarok? 

Neil Gaiman deftly weaves the answers into the myths that make up this delightful collection. The book is filled with enthralling tales of gods, ogres, dwarfs, giants, wolves, and the mead of poets. (you’ll laugh and cringe when you read where bad poetry comes from)

I thought I’d read the book one story at a time, but I couldn’t put it down. I had to know more about Thor, his clever brother Loki and their adventures in Asgard and the other eight worlds. Two stories in particular stand out; The Mead of Poets and Freya’s Unusual Wedding. (The lesson in the latter is that Thor and his hammer are not to be messed with) 

You may think you’ve heard the tales of Asgard, Odin, Thor, Loki and the others, but you’ve never heard them told with such enthusiasm and zest. Neil writes with the wisdom of Odin, the wit of Loki and the power of Thor. This is a book I will return to, over and over. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Instrumental A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music

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Instrumental  A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music by James Rhodes 

“Classical music makes me hard.” 

Possibly the best opening line ever. From the moment I read those first five words, I knew I was going to like this book. And I did. Immensely. 

This heart-breakingly honest memoir had me in tears and in stitches. I laughed, I cried. James Rhodes has written a book that will make you furious and hopeful at the same time. How he discovered the fortitude to survive child sexual abuse and mental illness is contained in the 304 pages of this brilliantly written book. 

I won’t give a synopsis here because no short paragraph could possibly encapsulate the powerful message of this book. You have to be brave enough to dig in and discover the beauty, the grace, the wit and the courage of James Rhodes. 

Great quote: “How awful to have a passion so intense it dictates your every breath and yet to lack the moral backbone to pursue it.” (fucking love this!) 

P.S. I read his chapter (track nineteen) on relationships twice and will most likely read it several more times. Insightful and extremely wise. 

P.S.S. As soon as I finished the book, I went on to iTunes and bought all of his music. I think you will, too. I’m listening to his album ‘Razor Blades, Little Pills, Big Pianos’ as I type this. 

Instrumental A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music by James Rhodes