For better or for worse, it’s our struggle to get through the rough spots in life that shape us into the people we are and forge us into what we become.
Learning to look for a positive change in even the worst situation might seem impossible, but the following nonfiction titles are full of inspirational moments and ideas.
–– The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. When she contracted a seemingly incurable viral illness, Bailey was weak and unable to do much more than lie prone on a bed, with no hope in sight. It was a small woodland creature that helped Bailey see her world in a new way.
This tiny snail’s quiet determination, adaptability to circumstances, and the companionship it provided renewed the author’s spirit.
–– The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby and John Busby. In 1979, John Busby was a happily married policeman on Cape Cod, MA, with three children, including nine-year-old Cylin. On the way to work one night, Busby was shot in the head and neck at close range. He required multiple surgeries, with recovery time in-between, and the family was placed under constant police surveillance to ensure their safety. The deep financial and emotional toll on the family led the Busbys to leave their old life behind and begin again in a different state.
–– 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik. Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse – his law firm was failing, his second marriage was falling apart, and a client was suing him – Kralik, at 53, found the inspiration to try something from his past. His grandfather had encouraged sending thank-you notes, but over time the value in that idea became lost. When Kralik resolved to write one note daily, he began to realize how fortunate he really was.
–– Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt. Unbeknownst to Amy Solomon or her family, she had a weak valve in her heart. One morning, as Amy exercised at home, the valve gave way, and she was gone. Amy left behind her loving husband, Harris, three small children, a thriving pediatric practice, and a close-knit extended family. In the beginning, Amy’s father (journalist Roger Rosenblatt) and his wife moved in with Harris to help with the children and the house. In the end, they had made a new kind of family unit, with plenty of everyday joys and sorrows.
–– The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The author outlines 12 big ideas of happiness, one per month, with a nice dose of humour, allowing readers to choose their own level of commitment to change.
–– An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken. When the author learned she was pregnant, she was happier than she’d ever been. Then the unthinkable happened – their baby died in utero. But McCracken’s memoir doesn’t focus on the death of her son (who was named Pudding) but rather celebrates Pudding and a whole new world of possibilities that he represented. The safe arrival of Pudding’s little brother gives readers the gift of knowing when things look their worst, they can get better. (Also available in the ORL in a CD format)
–– Parts of this column originally appeared in Library Journal.
–– Maureen Curry is the chief librarian at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.