The Last Letter From Your Lover – Jojo Moyes
Safekeeping – Abigail Thomas
Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
Somewhere Towards the End – Diana Athill
One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid
My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff
Nora Ephron: The Last Interview and Other Conversations – Melville House
The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) – Nora McInerny Purmort
A Three Dog Life – Abigail Thomas
I look forward to writing these posts so much, because it makes me look over the past 4 weeks and see all the fun I’ve had and amazing people I’ve spent that time with. But though, like most months, there are a bunch of wonderful things that happened, one day was really tough and I wanted to write a bit about it. On May 14th, my dog passed away. I was thirteen when we got Shiloh, and he has been by my family’s side through so many transformative years. He came to us a rolly-polly, joyful puppy and grew to be a tremendously loyal, energetic and sweet dog with a whole lot of attitude. I spent many of my teenage years sleeping with him curled up at my feet, or waiting up for me late at night. Even in his older years, he would still sit at the front door until 4am waiting for my brother to come home from a night out with his friends before retreating into my parents room to his own bed; ready to sleep now that the whole crew was safe at home. When I left for university and came home for the first time 6 weeks later, I couldn’t wait to see him, but instead of my usual welcoming kisses, he bit my nose. Clearly I was in trouble. Over the years I’ve lived on my own, my dad has emailed me countless pictures of Shiloh so I never felt too alone without him. My favourite will always be the picture of his nose covered in snow to which my dad had captioned “Drug addict?!” When my dad was diagnosed with leukaemia and began intensive chemotherapy, Shiloh did not leave his side. Up until just a few days before he passed, I still signed off the phone with my mom with “say hi to Dad and give Shiloh a pet for me!” He was my baby and though I know that he lived a long life filled with love, I will miss him every single day.
The night before he passed away, I began reading Abigail Thomas’s A Three Dog Life. Last year, I read Thomas’s What Comes Next and How To Like It and fell in love with her effortlessly beautiful musings on life, grief, friendship, love and aging. While What Comes Next and How To Like It is the more recent book (about how she began to live again after the passing of her husband), A Three Dog Life was written during the difficult years after her husband was hit by a car and sustained debilitating brain damaged that forced him to live in an assisted living facility for the remainder of his life. Though he lived through the accident, Thomas had to adjust to a new normal, where the man she fell in love with was not the same person she was now loving, and she was forced to live alone with their dog in a home they had once shared. During those times, she grieved in her own personal way, and to lift her spirits, adopted two more rescue dogs. This collection is interspersed with small essays on grief and aging, but also is a love letter to the healing capabilities of having a dog. This book came to me at a perfect time, and made me reflect on all the wonderful years my family and I had with Shiloh. As soon as I finished, I bought Thomas’s very first memoir, Safekeeping, which is the last of her memoirs I have to read, but rest assured I will be returning to read them all again.
I followed this with another memoir on grief, but one that was much different. Nora McInerny Purmort was 31 when she lost her husband to brain cancer. Not long before, her father had passed away and she had miscarried her second child. It sounds like this woman’s memoir would be one that would break your heart and at points it does, but it also made me laugh so hard I snorted. Purmort is a sassy, unapologetic woman who fought back for those she loved every step of the way. Though I didn’t share all of her perspectives, this book stood out to me as something unique and brave and I’m glad to have read it.
Toward the beginning of the month, I read a collection of transcribed interviews with Nora Ephron (whom I adore) and a science fiction novel that has been all over the internet lately called The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. The interviews were a very interesting way to see the progression of Nora through her career. The first ones portrayed a very confident, outspoken woman, and the later ones showed someone more humble, more sentimental, and very wise. Chambers’s novel was full of wonderful characters and very smart commentary on society today, but the plot felt a little underdeveloped and often chapters resembled vignettes to me instead of one cohesive story.
I also bought a lot this month, because a new bookstore in my area opened up and their biography section was wonderful.
One wonderful moment from this month though, was getting to see the film for Me Before You. I read the book as an advanced copy over 4 years ago and fell in love. Nearly my entire team at work has since read it and we all have a deep-seeded love for this beautiful story. We were completely ecstatic when we were invited to a special screening with the author, Jojo Moyes and main actress, Emilia Clarke. It was perfection! Both ladies were absolutely lovely and kind, signing our books and posing for pictures with us. The film made me laugh and cry and I left that theatre feeling proud to be me, with all the little quirks and eccentricities. If you haven’t read the book, I highly, highly recommend it, and if then please go see the film. It is so wonderful.
Though this month had its fair share of tears, I felt very grateful too; for the healing power of books and for the tremendous love of pets and family. I hope you all had a wonderful May and are starting off June in great spirits.