Read it and Weep: Working Through 2008’s Best Books

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more books. I read a ridiculous amount of magazines—just ask my beleaguered mail carrier who must find creative ways to fit in all the subscriptions into my mailbox each month. But books had fallen by the wayside. So when when one of my favourite magazines, Entertainment Weekly, published their Top 10 Fiction and Non-fiction books of 2008 earlier this year, I logged on to the Toronto Public Library site and placed holds on each one listed. Now they are all coming in and I have tons to read and I thought other parents might enjoy one I just finished. However, enjoy might be the wrong descriptive because as good as it is, this memoir made me cry.

The book is Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood who recounts how she lost her five-year-old daughter to a virulent strep infection. One day her daughter Grace was a lithe, witty, wannabe ballerina. The next she spiked a fever and her parents rushed her to the hospital. She died hours later. The book tackles the days before Grace’s death, the days after and even the years as Hood, her husband and their son try to find solace. For Hood, the ability to cope is found through knitting, and three years on, the adoption of a baby from China they name Annabelle. While some readers may find this book offers them little comfort at all (it is Hood’s story after all, she is not trying to help readers through their own painful problems) I found it comforting to know that while her grief over the loss of Grace never leaves, it does, in time, stop eclipsing everything else. Needless to say I finished this book late one night last week and promptly went to my daughter’s room and kissed her forehead while taking in her scent.

Now I am reading Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. It was not my intention to read two heart-wrenching books back-to-back but this one came in next at the library. It too is deeply affecting for anyone who has experienced addiction in their own family.

Yesterday I got an automated message that another of my books had come in. Here’s hoping it’s one of the more light-hearted ones I requested.

—Robin, CF‘s senior editor

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