A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Dave Eggers is amazing. I really enjoyed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It was funny, despite being tragic. Eggers is able to take his reflections on some very difficult circumstances and find the joy of life within them.

When Eggers was in his early 20s both of his parents died in a short period of time. Eggers and his adult brother and sister are left with the responsibility of caring for their 8-year-old brother. Eggers takes guardianship of his youngest brother, and they move to California. The situation is a literal mess at times (have you ever seen the apartment or dorm room of a young man in his 20s? I have, and certainly wish I could wash off that experience), but they figure it out as they go along.

Eggers’ writing style is very unique, starting from the prologue. He often goes into these rants about how he imagines things to happen before he talks about how they actually happened. I loved this. It was great to get inside his brain for a bit. I am guilty of jumping to the worse case scenario and playing conversations or situations out in my head before they happen, and they are always wrong. Eggers has similar thoughts, and it was great to read.

Overall, I recommend this book! It will keep you on your toes. It makes sense for this to be on the books-to-read-in-your-20s list. It’s really about continuing to live your life no matter what is thrown at you. While his life is overwhelming and painful, Eggers keeps on living, and by the end, years have passed, and he has lived them well. Happy reading!

Everything I Never Told You

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The perfect Sunday night

On Sunday night I was able to sit outside with a glass of wine while the sun was setting and finish Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng while the puppy played in the yard.

I could hardly put this book down. The book opens with the death of Lydia, a teenager in the Lee family. Ng allows each family member the opportunity to reflect on how their history, how major events impacted their relationships, and their last interactions with Lydia. The book follows as the police try to sort out what happened, and how each member of the family attempts to cope with Lydia’s death.

If you have followed the blog at all, you know that I am a sucker for books with multiple perspectives and time lapses, so I was eating this up! I also like when there is some mystery to a book (or movie, or TV show), so I spent the entire book trying to sort out how Lydia turned up dead. I was worried for quite a few pages that Ng would not reveal what had happened, but thankfully she allows Lydia some reflections, as well.

I would recommend reading this book. It will not take you long, it will keep you guessing, and remind you that all families are complicated.

Happy reading!

The Year of Magical Thinking

After submitting all of the final paperwork for my internship I rewarded myself with a glass of wine and reading time. I was able to finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. This was my first book by Didion, and it completely destroyed me.

This book is heart-wrenching. Didion writes about the year after she lost her husband. In the same time period her daughter is incredibly ill. Didion writes about how she “goes to the literature” to sort out what is happening with these situations. She is reading medical books to sort out the situation with her daughter, and C.S. Lewis to sort out the grief surrounding her husband.

I will admit that I look at reviews on Goodreads when I am reading a new writer. There were comments about Didion name-dropping, bragging about her financial status, and whining about her situation. There were many mentions of famous friends, which at times felt as though she was name-dropping, but these people are in her life and had an impact on her while she was grieving. The wealth piece didn’t bother me, it did not come across as bragging. I also did not think she was whining. She just lost her husband and has no idea how to react! Toward the end of the book, Didion discusses how you do not know how you will react to grief. You anticipate grief to be a process where you are working on recovering from the loss of this person, but that’s not how it works. She explains these intimate moments where she would walk into the house, anxious to tell her husband about something that happened, only to find he was not there. When her daughter required a tracheotomy, she did not know how to make that decision on her own. The void she experiences is both tangible and awful.

The part of this book that hit me the hardest is the inscription inside the cover. I picked this book up at a used book sale and found the following:

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I would recommend this book. As I was reading I had to think about why this was on the books-to-read-in-your-20s list. I’m 27, thinking about losing a partner is not regularly on my mind. I had read somewhere that you are curious about death at two points in your life – when you’re older and know that it will happen, and when you’re young and do not think it will ever happen. This book helps to provide some perspective.