Reading is a big part of most days. I read to the girls, they look at books on their own. Cordelia is getting more confident about solo-reading. Elise is happy to just look at the pictures for now. When the girls are playing and there is a spare moment when I can squeeze in a chapter of my own I am very happy. I also read in the evenings, sometimes when I am sleepless, any time I can. I thought I would share a couple of books that we are reading. First the kids and then myself.
By Taro Gomi
I am going to come clean here, we had this book long before we had children. Someone had purchased this as a gift for Eric and I. I am hopeful that it was a joke gift, but who knows.
Anyway, the title of the book pretty much gives away the entire story. Taro Gomi is a fantastic illustrator and we have always enjoyed his work. This particular book covers the topic of human and animal feces. While we always love good poop humor, that is not the purpose of this book. The text is clear and concise and explains that everyone who eats must also poop. Recently Elise was angrily denying the existence of fish poop. We showed her the fish poop section of the book and all was clear. It is educational, it is a little funny. It is a classic in our house.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory
By Caitlin Doughty
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I intended to use a gift certificate for a local book store on this book and another (more on that in a bit). I had first heard of Caitlin Doughty on a radio interview which led me to her You Tube videos and then to her book.
The book did not disappoint. She begins by pulling the reader in with stories from her time working at a crematory. She shares the hows and whys of the industry as well as some insight into what pulled her in that direction. Doughty's stories are equally heartbreaking, funny, honest, and weird. She lures you in with her insight into a world that is largely hidden until we are mired in the depths of personal loss; a time when we aren't really equipped to navigate through many of the decisions we are faced with when choosing how to handle the remains of a loved one. She gives the reader a glimpse behind the curtain.
Throughout the whole book she has included historical references that give greater context to the culture of death and how it varies from one group to the next. The insights into how humans have dealt with death over time truly lead the reader into the deeper end of the book. Doughty has carefully guided her readers to the true purpose of her book, getting us to face the reality of our own mortality. She isn't being morbid at all, rather she is trying to liberate people from the paralyzing fear of death: empowering people to accept death, play a role in the care of our deceased loved ones, and to really live the lives we have been given. My favorite lines from the book:
Accepting death doesn't mean that you won't be devastated when someone you love dies. It means you will be able to focus on your grief, unburdened by bigger existential questions like "Why do people die?" and "Why is this happening to me?" Death isn't happening to you. Death is happening to us all.
While I know that can come across as a bit intense I promise that Doughty leads the reader to that point with humor, intelligence, and honesty. I highly recommend this book to anyone who plans to die.