Search Results for: telling tales of dusk


   It was a good question. Too bad I didn’t have an answer.

   I was speaking about the importance of reading, what it has meant in my life. I told the story of how, after my first husband died, I spent a month alone on a lake and did a lot of reading. Reading, I said, had somehow helped me to heal.

   After the talk, a woman in the audience raised her hand.

   “What did you read after your husband died?” she asked.

   There is much I remember about that time in my life 12 years ago, and the things that helped get me through it _ family and friends and even strangers who bathed me in a thousand kindnesses.

   I remember the rhythmic drumming of rain. The weight of a cat that slept on my chest. The daily sea of condolence notes. The unspoken question in the voices of my children, “Mom, are you OK?”

   But for some reason, I don’t remember the books I read that month at the lake. They’re like so many people I’ve met over the years. I remember their stories, how they touched me, but I can’t recall their names.

    There is one exception. Near the end of that month, when I ran out of books, I drove into town to buy just one more.

   “Recommendations?” I said. The clerk smiled and handed me a novel about a grieving woman who was starting her life over _ as a detective.

    Alexander McCall Smith’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” was the first in a series. I didn’t just like it. I fell in love with its characters and the life they shared. To be with them was to be in a good place.

   I’m now reading “Teatime for the Traditionally Built,” the tenth book in that series. The next is due out this spring.

   Pursuant to my library talk, having failed to answer one question, I want to ask another: What have you read lately that helped you in some way or just put you in a good place?

   Here are my recent best reads:

1_ “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows; a friend gave me this for Christmas, and what a gift. In 1946, a London writer begins corresponding with members of a book club that was formed as a guise to shield them from arrest after their island was invaded by the Germans. Both a history lesson and a love story, I did not want it to end.

2_ “The Sweet By and By” by Todd Johnson; this was also a gift from a friend. It’s the hilarious and heartrending story of five Southern women whose lives intertwine in a nursing home. If I live long enough, I want Lorraine to be my nurse, April to handle my affairs, Margaret and Bernice as my bunkmates, and I surely hope Rhonda can do my hair. Also, if my life were a book, I’d want Todd Johnson to write it.

3_  “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett; recommended by yet another friend, it’s a fictional tale set in 1962 about a white Junior Leaguer in Jackson, Miss., who secretly interviews her friends’ black maids to write a book about their lives and their treatment by their employers. A story that could easily have been predictable shines instead with the clarity and grace of its characters. You won’t soon forget them.

4_ Finally, a book of poetry, “Telling Tales of Dusk,” by North Carolina native Terri Kirby Erickson. I carry this in my purse to pull out in airports or offices or any place a poem comes in handy. It never fails to deliver with lines like these: “Leaning on the counter by an open window with tomato juice dripping down your chin …you can’t help but think that eating a garden tomato sandwich in your own kitchen is finer than a café lunch in Paris.”

   Those are my answers. I’ll look forward to yours.