1. Echols, Damien. Life After Death. 2012. – Aaah, yes! the book we’ve all been waiting for, the true story of Damien Echols. who most of us know from The West Memphis Three. i personally feel like the documentaries were revolutionary, as we watched the story evolve in front of our eyes … just wild film making out of a real life situation. i always found myself wondering what it was really like for these kids. what the story really was. i found sensitivity in their eyes, in their souls. thinking of them often, knowing that they were still in prison. i read that lorri davis lived in park slope when she saw the movie, when she reached out to Damien. i cried hysterically when hearing the news that they were FREE! after 18 years! excitement knowing that peter jackson was involved in the next (true) film.. on and on. SO i thoroughly enjoyed Life After Death. this was the piece of this story missing, what we were waiting for. i flew through the book, devouring damien’s story and his thoughtful words. his sentiment for simple things warmed my heart, i fully connected to his point of view . i ached at his circumstances. in his upbringing, location, battles with faith, and the ultimate framing of murder. and honestly, i felt enlightened about the prison system. his words still gives me the chills.
while reading, i already knew he was free. it didn’t take away my interest in how it happened. after watching him through somebody else’s lens while he was silent, i truly loved hearing his point of view. of how he got to where he was, and why. i am familiar with the way he was treated in school and by the local police, i’ve been around that sort of discrimination. what happened in that little town is awful and unspeakable. if you were invested in this case at all, this book is a must read. damien’s perseverance will inspire you. at the time, i felt like i was in my own theoretical prison.. his words filled my lungs with breath and my heart with courage.
2. Zailckas, Koren. Fury: True Tales of a Good Girl Gone Ballistic. 2012. – okay, so i went to jamaica in february and i saved the book to be bought in the airport. i couldn’t find anything worth actually buying, then i saw this one. well, i saw mary karr’s name on the cover and said HMMM. she is one of my favorite female voices, so i trusted that. i toted this book around the beach with me, poolside, etc. i kept opening it and just feeling like it wasn’t a light hearted read. maybe it was the cover, maybe it was the reaction of the people i was staying with (who i was meeting for the first time) “.. whats this book?” the cover speaks pretty loudly, so i put it back into my suitcase and read magazines instead. once i got back to montego bay (and was by myself) i headed to the pool, grabbed my book. i more or less did not put it down after that. i read it at the pool, the beach, through dinner, fell asleep, picked it up in the morning, and on the plane, in the cab home, then actually brought it to the bar while i ate dinner by myself (it was valentines day!)
this is koren’s follow up to “smashed” (which i haven’t read. yet.) it’s interesting to read the second book when you haven’t read the first, but i liked it. FURY is all about a young woman’s search for health, happiness, harmony and really just dealing with herself and the way she feels & reacts. the therapy i found within these pages is enormous. if you have issues dealing with anger (or, like me, wasn’t even aware that you had issues dealing with anger, or knew how to properly define anger, or admit that YES, i am angry!) this book is for you. if you are unknowingly making decisions based on family dynamics and past instances, this book is for you. if you aren’t sure why you act the way you do, read this book. my copy is full of scribbles (“ME TOO! is this why? reminds me of,” etc.) and my journal sat beside me as i read, while i felt inspired by her own battles to pull mine apart and find the remedy.
not only is this book a memoir, but it’s also extremely educational. koren did massive amounts of research to help herself, i am thankful that she also helped me.
3. Harrison, Sabrina Ward. Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. 2000. – sigh, sabrina. my admiration for this woman goes beyond words.. it’s like i’d call her my mentor but she doesn’t know me. i’d call her books a mirror except i see her and then see myself, too. my highschool creative writing teacher gave me this book – he knew my writing, and knew i’d find solace in her style. which is exactly what happened. i keep my collection of sabrina books closeby. on my worst day, you will find me laying down somewhere, with her books beside me. at my loneliest and most confused, i read her words and view her art, and i feel better. you used to be able to find them in the “self help” sections of bookstores, they have since been harder to find, but there’s always an internet search. i’ve never met another fan of sabrina, yet i’ve been into it for so long. anyone else?
4. Diaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. 2007. – i bought this book about 5 years ago, after a trip into new york where i rode the subway and saw several different people reading it. having fantasized about reading books on the train myself, i wanted in. so i went back to jersey, bought it, read about 150 pages, and put it down. i always wanted to go back to it and just never did. well current day livin in NYC ashley was like F this! i bought this book because i admired people reading it on the train.. let me try again. i think something was waiting for me to read this book because i ADORED it and couldn’t wait to read more. i rooted so hard for oscar, and for lola. i loved all the different timelines happening throughout the story — it has a rich sense of dominican history. scenes in the DR from the 40′s, intense. the current day story is in NJ, full of humor, insanity, comic books, fantasy, loserdom, and style. SUCH a rich book, so well written. i would recommend this book to nearly anyone.
5. Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. 1969. – AH!!! SOOO. i know this is a classic book. i also know about the movies. and i also can admit i had never seen the movies or knew anything about anything to do with the godfather. joe’s granny told us about a year ago that this was her “favorite book, ever.” which resulted in a conversation later about how clearly we both need to read it. for christmas, granny gave joe the book and all three DVDs. he read the book first, devoured it. i was next. when i got to it, i devoured it as well. it was a very easy to read, at times a bit intense, but never frightening. i loved the characters, i loved the the way the story travels through time and from place to place. i found myself realizing that possibly every mafia/political angst story is most likely based off the ideals in this book. i may or may not have had blurry connections to mafia folks in nj, so i liked to imagine these people living this life. a good portion of the story takes place in long beach. i was obsessed with the visualizations, the details, the LOVE that vito corleone possessed. i had a massive crush on MICHAEL!
after i finished the book, we watched the movies. although way too much of the book was left out, i adored them. like whoa. if you are unfamiliar, i recommend you read the book first, then the movies. if you’ve seen the movies, read the book, then watch the movies again. you won’t regret it! BUT make sure to stay away from the actors who play the characters in the movie… they all do a great job but your imagination should take this one on itself.
6. Silverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic. 1981. – this is a constant flip through in my life, i spent some sad days in march in the window, reading these poems, feeling better about life. it always works, it always helps me to see something different then what is in front of me.
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