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November 2018 Reading List

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs – Riggs was the great, great, great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a poet herself which shows on occasion in her lyrically writing. In her final work, Riggs covers her experience living and dying from metastatic breast cancer while raising two small boys, dealing with her mother’s cancer. I was hoping for some insight into how I’m feeling now that my cancer is (hopefully) in the rearview. Answers to larger questions on the meaning of life because right now, frankly, I don’t see the point. Instead it’s more of a personal account of regular, everyday life but with cancer, pain and loss. Her writing is lovely and it’s terribly sad that she died so young and her sons lost their mother. An awful tragedy, and I’m glad she has this legacy to leave them. It did touch on some things covered in Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End which I’d read earlier this year. That book is about quality of life during the end days and, while more clinical, I found the frankness about death and dying very comforting and valuable. 

Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women by Rebecca Traister – All about the 2008 presidential primaries and election. Knowing what the future holds gave me some different perspective as I read about Hillary Clinton’s loss to Barack Obama and Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidential run with John McCain. Oh, the good ol’ days. I’d forgotten about how much attention had been paid to Clinton’s clothes and how she showed some cleavage. (Oh my stars!) I also had to accept that, while I’m definitely no fan of Palin, having a woman on the ballot is still a good thing for women in general. 

Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis – An epic review of slavery, abolition, uprisings, sexual exploitation, classical and biblical roots, Haitian and Brazilian revolts, the emergence of African-American culture, and on and on and on. If you only read one book on the history of slavery, this would be the one I’d recommend. It’s sweeping and comprehensive, not too long and covers a lot of territory. I was particularly interested in and enlightened by the Haitian revolution (I’ve added The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution to my “To Read” list) and England’s not-so-altruistic reasons for the abolition of slavery. An excellent history lesson and a must-read, in my opinion.

The Roosevelts documentary by Ken Burns –  Not a book, but an in depth and worthy documentary that I wanted to note for myself. I enjoyed this during my travels to New Mexico and back to NYC from Arizona. The long plane rides flew by in a flash thanks to this excellent documentary. I had watched it some years ago but really enjoyed it more the 2nd time around now that I’m more educated on NYC history. There actually is a companion book to this that I saw while at the Grand Canyon. The National Parks love Teddy for all that he did for the park service. Thanks, Ted, for making my trip into the Canyon a possibility!

Click here to read my October Booklist
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