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Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mom's Kindle list

On November 5 I lost my Mom to cancer.

Though she had been dealing with this horrible disease off and on for the past twenty years, she never wanted anybody to say she had been 'battling' cancer. To her, it was just something she had to deal with, a fact of life.

What really defined her life, even in her very last days, was her caring for each and every family member, her empathy for all she met (and many she did not), her life-long love of learning and teaching, her creativity, her love of animals, her deep interest in the history her ancestors and the world they lived in.

To try and describe this extraordinary woman in a few sentences would never do her justice - I can only say that I feel like the luckiest kid in the world because I had a Mom who gave me the best gift a parent can give a child - she taught me how to think.
We spent so much time talking about pretty much everything - history, culture, parenting, religion, business, education, news - whatever the topic she had a wealth of knowledge and always a willingness to examine other points of view (even disagreeable ones).

Where she got much of that knowledge was from books. From the time she was a young girl, she was a reader. Our house always had shelves full of books - both her and my Dad collected hundreds of books - history, biography, psychology, travel, art, design, current events - fiction and non-fiction. Mom didn't just read these books - she slipped bits of paper with notes or relevant news articles between the pages to add something should she revisit the book (or for the next reader). Reading wasn't just a way to relax for her, it was a way to understand.

Last year, when she started having trouble reading the small print in many books, my older sister purchased a Kindle for her. Mom immediately took to the device, downloading dozens of books and slipping her hand-written notes into the pocket of its leather case. I have no doubt that had if she been given a couple more years on Earth, we would have needed to expand the memory on that thing to accommodate the huge volume of books she wanted to read. That gadget was a blessing which she used right up to her final days.

A few days after she died, my Dad and I were looking at the list of books she had downloaded, and he remarked how that list really was a reflection of the wide variety of interests my Mom had. I agreed, and that night began transcribing the entire list on to my computer.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is Mom's Kindle list.

____

Babbit (Sinclair Lewis)

Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor (Icek Kuperberg and Abraham Kuperberg, Ph.D)

The Hunt for Bin Laden (Washington Post and Tom Shroder

Among the Righteous (Robert Satloff)

The Invisible Bridge (Julie Orringer)

WIRED (Douglas E. Richards)

Living in a Foreign Language

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany

Classic American Literature: The Works of Mark Twain (Mark Twain)

Works of Anthony Trollope (Anthony Trollope)

The Old Man and the Wasteland (Nick Cole)

The Mill River Recluse (Darcie Chan)

The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Leo Tolystoy)

Complete Works of Henry James (Henry James)

The Awakening The Resurrection (Graf Leo Tolstoy)

Strength in What Remains (Tracy Kidder)

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow)

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (Jon Lee Anderson)

The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)

The Buddha in the Attic (Julie Otsuka)

Devil at My Heels (David Rensin and Louis Zamperini)

You Never Know: Tales of Tobias, an Accidental Lottery Winner (Lilian Duval)

Hungry Hearts (Anzia Yezierska)

Miral: A Novel (Rula Jebreal)

Remembrance of Things Past: Swann’s Way I (Marcel Proust)

Sins of the Innocent (Mirielle Marokvia)

Shadows Bright as Glass (Amy E. Nutt)

Secret Daughter: A Novel (Shilpi Somaya Gowda)

Secret Memoirs: The Court of Royal Saxony 1891-1902 (Henry W. Fischer)

A Mountain of Crumbs (Elena Gorokhova

The Palliser Chronicles Collection (Anthony Trollope)

Chronicles of Barsetshire Collection (Anthony Trollope)

Works of E.M. Forster: (E.M. Forster)

Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China (David Kidd and John Lanchester)

Remarkable Creatures: A Novel (Tracy Chevalier)

Einstein (Walter Isaacson)

The Kitchen House (Kathleen Grissom)

The Emperor of All Maladies (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

March (Geraldine Brooks)

Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival (Alison Wright)

Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers (Franz Lidz)

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things (Randy Frost and Gail Steketee)

Homer & Langley: A Novel (E.L. Doctrow)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Laura Hillenbrand)

In the Garden of Beasts (Erik Larson)

Three Cups of Deceit (Jon Krakauer)

Oceanstory (Leslie Marmom Silko)

Emma (Jane Austen)

The Warden (Anthony Trollope)

They Are Us: A Plea for Common Sense About Immigration (Pete Hamill)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot)

Bonhoeffer (Eric Metaxas and Timothy J. Keller)

Charley’s Lake (Art Zahn)

In the Kitchen (Monica Ali)

Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel (Aimee Bender)

The Help (Kathryn Stockett)




2 Comments:

Anonymous Laura Stanley said...

Long as this list is, it's short compared to the roster of titles that weigh down Mom's bedroom shelves. I have been mining that collection since the day after her passing. How I wish she were here to talk with me about my favorites (so far), Austerlitz, The Emigrants, and Netherland.

I'll never forget the day this summer when I found Marilyn Robinson's Gilead on Mom's shelves. This haunting little book, written in the form of a journal of a gentle midwestern minister who knows he has about a year to live, is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. Although it won a Pulitzer, I don't think it's widely read. I'd never found anyone who undersood my love for it until that day. We didn't talk about it much; all Mom said, when I pulled it out, was "oh yes, THAT one. That one is... special." We shared a long, deep, appreciative silence, our closest moment during her difficult final months.

December 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cousin, I've printed the list. Thank you for sharing it. In your Mom's honor I will add them to my list except for "Great Expectations" which will bring me back to 9th grade, and I do NOT want to go there!

December 27, 2011 at 11:11 AM 

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