I’m trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I’ve been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.
I didn’t intend for all these reads to be non-fiction and frankly, depressing. Two of them were library holds that happened to come up at the same time and the other was one I had been reading. I have to say, reading sad and painful non-fiction changes your reading a bit. I had to switch to something light and fun quick. Check out my review of NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK & FORTUNE.
WHAT MADE MADDY RUN
The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
By: Kate Fagan
Published: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
I purchased this one over a year ago, but I was a bit afraid to read it even though I really wanted to read it. As the mom of a college runner, this book was a difficult read. But, I felt that telling Maddy’s story was so important and I’m thankful for Kate’s meticulous research, multiple conversations with Maddy’s friends and family, and for bringing the issue of suicide, especially among college students, to light.
This is no spoiler, Maddy commits suicide after struggling during her freshman year. As a mom, my heart broke for the pain she was feeling and for her parents who thought they were doing all they could with no idea of the deep pain Maddy was in.
I had a much deeper conversation with our son about Maddy and her struggles before he went back to college. I wanted him to know that it was ok to struggle and not be sure of his future. I was upfront with him about Maddy and her choices. As he went back to college, I had to put the book down for a bit. It was difficult for me to read and not think of him.
I think anyone who works with high school or college students should read this book. No one, not her closest friends, her parents, her sister, her coaches, or her roommate knew Maddy was struggling enough to commit suicide. The more we can watch for signs and check-in with each other, we can hopefully prevent this from being someone else’s only way out.
THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING
By: Joan Didion
Published: October 4, 2005
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Format: Audiobook through library
I’ve never read anything by Joan Didion, but I’ve heard of her writing. This one had been on my library holds for a while and it finally came up. I’ve always been interested in stories of grief and loss. I studied grief in college and worked part of my career in grief and loss. Joan Didion writes beautifully on the pain, shock, and recovery after losing her husband and at the same time nearly losing her daughter. She writes meticulously about the process of looking back on the days and hours before her husband’s heart attack, the process of grieving while her daughter is in the ICU, and then forging ahead with a new life on her own. It was poetic, real, and honest.
“You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” Joan Didion
By: Dave Cullen
Published: April 6, 2009
Format: Audiobook through the library
After reading A MOTHER’S RECKONING by Sue Klebold a couple of years ago, I knew I wanted to read COLUMBINE. It finally came up on my library holds as an audiobook. I have to admit, it was a tough listen, especially as a way to start my day. I typically listen to audiobooks while I am getting ready in the morning and I had to take breaks because the information was overwhelmingly depressing. And I’m not just talking about the events that happened at Columbine High School. But, I’m also talking about all the mistakes that were made and red flags that were ignored prior to that day. I finished the book heartbroken, angry, and in disbelief. Cullen’s research was forthright and meticulous and he didn’t hold back on revealing any details that might be tough to hear about. I think it is an important read, but you have to decide if you can handle the horrific details from April 20, 1999.
You can see all my other Quick Lit posts by clicking, HERE.