“I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.”
~ T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Read: in early January for a poetry course. For some reason, this stanza in particular has clung to my mind, and I still remember these lines months later.
“Heart, we will forget him,
You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.”
~ Emily Dickinson
Read: in February, late at night, when skimming through my reading for poetry class. How I loved that course.
“If the present has little effect on the future, present actions need not be weighed for their consequence. It is a world of sincerity. It is a world in which every word spoken speaks just to that moment, every glance given has only one meaning, each touch has no past or no future, each kiss is a kiss of immediacy.”
~ Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams
Read: in late March on Spring Break while on choir tour. Short and powerful and reminiscent of Prague, I remember reading snatches of the book in hotel lobbies, on the tour bus, and waiting backstage before concerts. It was one of those books that was perfect for transporting you briefly into a different world.
“There was something so electric about it. So dangerous. Those little touches were everything. I lived for them. You can build a whole world around the tiniest of touches. Did you know that?”
~ Caroline Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Read: in the week before graduation on the beach in Florida. It was a beautiful read about loss and acceptance and redemption, and I read the whole thing in pretty much one sitting.
“I kept thinking about how the five of us had had a really unhealthy family, but then I saw too how our roots were twisted so tenaciously around one another’s hearts.”
~ Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton
Read: in October while in the middle of job-searching. Elizabeth Strout will always be one of my very favourite writers. She has the most beautiful way of describing the intricacies of various relationships – familial, generational, friendship, or otherwise. Every time I read one of her books, I see aspects of my own relationships with family and friends reflected within her characters.
“The confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for better ones.”
~ Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams
Read: during the summer, in between rehearsals and concerts. This article was (and still is) one of the best pieces I have ever read. It completely redefined my perception and understanding of empathy, and it helped me to restructure how I can integrate empathy into my everyday interactions. If you read nothing else this year, read this piece. I cannot recommend it enough.
“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering up its things, packing up and slipping away unnoticed and unannounced in the middle of the night.”
~ Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Read: in the summer during many of my lunch breaks. I could not have been farther away from the world of The Kite Runner while in idyllic Breckenridge, CO. It was a highly illuminating read for me and also interesting to note the changes that have happened even since the book was written in 2003.
“What seems important to me now is not just to be aware of my place but to be alive in it.”
~ Kennedy Warne, ‘The Wilds of Auckland’
Read: in the late summer, sitting out on the patio and dreaming about travel. One of the most beautiful travel articles I’ve come across in awhile.
“I was holding one baby on the inside and one on the outside. I count those naps as some of the happiest times in my life.” ~ Amy Poehler, Say Yes
Read: in November during Thanksgiving. Because it is Amy Poehler, the book is hilarious and witty and sharp, but it is also warm and truthful and especially insightful. And this is all because it is Amy Poehler.
“No system of thought can contain the fullness of human experience. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
~ Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
Read: in December, shortly after Thanksgiving. It is a gorgeous and heartbreaking read, and I think that this book is relevant, timeless, and necessary.
“She recognized it at once: love, one-way deep adoration that bounced off and did not bounce back; careful, quiet love that didn’t care and went on anyway.”
~ Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
Read: the entirety on Christmas Day. Ng’s writing is akin to cut crystal, carefully crafted, precise and brilliant. I loved the whole book, even though it broke my heart, and I cannot wait to read more of her writing.
On My List for 2017:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami
The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
Poetry – William Stafford
Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty