You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Following the death of his mother Lillian, from cancer in 2015, Sherman Alexie has written a raw, amazing, improbable, overwhelming, and difficult-to-read memoir: “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” It’s constructed in an unusual format, part prose, part poetry, and pieced together in 160 quilt-like segments – with lots of white space.  And many of the themes will be already familiar from Alexie’s National Book Award winning young-adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”

In truth, his new work is such an unedited outpouring of raw grief and guilt that it’s almost an anti-book, at least in the usual sense. Rather than carefully honed prose and a clear narrative arc, we get the repetitive drum beat of unfiltered and anguished emotion, liberally tinged with narcissism.  It’s not so much literature as unprocessed emotion. Each reader is invited to immerse himself, to take the book on its own terms or not at all, all of which makes it difficult to review in the usual way.  And of course we already knew it, but this man can write!  Even at his most repetitive and sentimental, the gush of words that pour out of him amaze me!

In July, Alexie suddenly suspended the book tour. His mother’s ghost was haunting him, he said, and he realized he needed to take a big step back and do most of his grieving in private.

He promises to return. “My memoir is still out there for you to read. And, when I am strong enough, I will return to the road. I will return to the memoir. And I know I will have new stories to tell about my mother and her ghost. I will have more stories to tell about grief. And about forgiveness.” – Connie Bennett, Library Director

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Dancing Rose by Lauren Kessler

Find in catalogA journalist spends some time at a memory care facility in order to research this book. She “works” at her own discretion, giving management her schedule rather than the other way around. She doesn’t work overtime and doesn’t work weekends. She chooses her shifts and is not concerned with earning a living. Real caregivers do not have these luxuries which, in addition to the nature of the work, make it an incredibly stressful job. Since she does not experience the reality of a long-term care facility it is understandable that her assessment is superficial. Disclaimer: I have done this work in real life.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Find in catalogAmy Schumer’s book is much like her stand up, so much so that her old standup routine was essentially her book. So if you missed her standup or don’t have Netflix for her special or would just prefer a written version here it is! She’s got an unbridled causal sense of humor that is not bashful in any shape or form. It’s basically just a series of stories from her life; in all its embarrassing and honestly funny truth.

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Find in catalogCokie Roberts is able to shed light on the lives of the famous names of Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and more. We’ve all heard little stories about these Founding Mothers, such as Martha being at the battle front and Betsy Ross stitching together the flag, but there must be more, right? Yes these women all have fascinating stories as they held down the fronts when the men were off in other countries or working to build ours.

Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson

Find in catalogUnder the guise of a prayer the author writes a very blunt chastisement of white America for its brutality, oppression, privilege, and blind acceptance of a racism that allows such prejudice to persist.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Find in catalog“Being Mortal” is one of the first books I discovered in the Lucky Day section, which has been a highlight of library visits ever since then.

Dr. Gawande is a surgeon, professor, and an engaging author. His book discusses how the process of dying has evolved in this country, which he compares with traditions and practices in his parents’ homeland, India. He weaves stories and medical information. He includes many surprising facts about end-of-life care, and statistics about costs to Medicare.

The parts I especially valued, and shared with a close friend, were surveys and comments about what patients have said is important to them in their final days. What matters most, what abilities they’d like to maintain, what level of thinking or communicating… Gawande makes the point that when patients and their families are aware of these preferences, that helps greatly in making decisions about medical options. He emphasizes how valuable having those discussions is.

Even though he is a doctor, he indicts the medical profession for promoting continuing surgery and interventions in care, often when they are not significantly beneficial. He admits that his own attitude about this shifted, largely because of his personal experience with his father’s process of dying.
Reading this book helped me complete my Advance Directive. And it has opened me up to thinking about my own death, and what questions I need to ask myself to clarify my priorities at this stage of life. I recommended “Being Mortal” in my Christmas letter.

Who Thought this was a good idea? and other questions you show have answers to when you work in the white house by Alyssa Mastromonacoy

Find in catalogThis was such a fun book; a wonderful story that shows a unique and important perspective of this inside workings of the day to day life running a nation. I love her real down to earth nature, how honest and frank she was handling the real ups and downs of trying to figure out the most crazy schedule and events in the world. It’s a great insider perspective from a job that one usually doesn’t think of until one meets somebody with the unknown yet important job or there suddenly there isn’t that person holding the ship together.

All the Single Ladies: unmarried women and the rise of an independent nation by Rebecca Traister

Find in catalogThis is such a great informational read. I learned more than I ever thought there was to know about the effects of a certain group in society had as they changed over the course of time. It’s great to have a deeper understanding of how women have changed as a people and how they have changed the nation and the world. It was great to know how such an oppressed group has made such great strides and hopeful for the future changes that are still required.

The Full Transcripts of the Putin Interviews by Oliver Stone

Find in catalogOliver Stone interviewed Vladmir Putin several times over a two year period beginning in 2015. They discussed a wide variety of topics including Chechnya, Serbia, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran, the anti-ballistic missile treaty, nuclear weapons, NATO, Snowden, economics, election hacking, the worldwide cyber threat and much more. It’s very interesting to hear the perspective of the Russian president in his own words. You also are able to get some sense of who Putin is as a man. Good read.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possibly by AJ Jacobs

Find in catalogThis book is both funny and enlightening! For anyone with any spark of curiosity for the words that the most sold book in history this is the book for you regardless of your spiritual standing. I really appreciated his perspective on the Bible and religious matters; he’s a good writer, able to take an objective look at the subject as well as reflect on his personal perceptions.