Who Tells Your Story?

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Recently I watched a documentary about the late writer and director Nora Ephron called Everything is Copy, . Ephron is the genius behind the movies Sleepless in Seattle, Julia and Julia and a host of other essays and books. A good chunk of Everything is Copy explores the career Ephron made from taking material in her own life and making it fodder for her writing.

There is a line of dialogue in the movie I can’t quite shake it. Ephron refers back to her childhood and a phrase her mother would often invoke:

“You’d come home with something you thought was the tragedy of your life – someone wouldn’t ask you to dance, the hem fell out of your skirt – and she would say, ‘Everything is copy,’ What I now have come to believe my mother meant is this: If you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell someone you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh.”

We are, as a whole these days, an oversharing, tad bit indulgent society. Should we chose to, we have ample outlets to speak whatever we wish – good, bad and ugly. Social media is the exact essence of “everything is copy.” We experience it and we share it. We flip the story and make it ours. Immediately.

The truth is I’ve tiptoed through life being terrified of slipping on a banana peel or admitting that I’ve done my fair share of falling. Often the most regrettable moments of my life have not been the terrible mistakes I’ve made, but rather the unwillingness to be honest with the folks around me. The facade, the mask, the game compounds the regret all the more. I often don’t feel bad for slipping, falling, failing. I simply regret not speaking up about it.

But why? Why in the world would we want to lay our stories bare? There are a million good reasons, too many to list here. But my favorite lately is this:

Like the rest of the world, I am currently obsessed with the musical Hamilton. My giant prayer these days? Impossible to-get-tickets to see the current cast on broadway. It’s a bit embarrassing how often I pray over these tickets, but in an essay on honesty this feels like an appropriate confession.

I can’t get enough of the backstory. Lin-Manuel Miranda, author and star of the musical, breezed through an airport bookstore looking for something to read on a flight. He found the 800 plus page, at times salacious, biography Alexander Hamilton. In addition to being the face on the $10 bill and the first Treasury Secretary, Hamilton was an island immigrant living in New York City. This part of Hamilton’s story proved to be a mirror. This immigrant sliver made Hamilton unexpectedly connected with so many others in our country with a similar sliver including Miranda, a Puerto Rican growing up in New York City.

In one honest story telling, another saw enough of themselves to get to work.

This can be true of us too. Maybe in opening up our lives, someone can take a slice, see themselves, and feel less alone or afraid. Maybe this sets off a deeper faith, a newfound courage, a squirreled away talent, a piece of art, whatever. Long creaky life wheels are set in motion. The next domino will fall and we will all keep moving.

In Everything Is Copy, Ephron goes on to say that telling her own story moved her from being a victim to be a hero. I’ve never wanted to be the story hero. This is not about glory or fame. I hope we are not honest about our lives so that we can flip the script and come out on top. It is about taking our lives and making sure what happens to us, because of us, in spite of us is not in vain. This is stewardship. Much like we manage our time and money, this is stewarding our resource of experience. It is saying, “This is me. I’m not perfect. Life has been good and life has been bad. Maybe you can identify too?” We simply cannot know what little parts of our life will compel, open up, inspire or break someone else. I am not the hero of my story, but I am also not the victim either. I am a narrator, letting all parts be told through me.

There are many experiences that need to shelved for a later, matured, distanced, telling. But in the right time and place, let’s open up our mouths or type with our fingers. Let’s be honest with a friend or even a stranger. Let’s be brave and open.

Hamilton ends with a song entitled Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story? It is a haunting piece that flies a bit in the face of how a lot of musical theater ends with big, bombastic numbers. But the question is great: who will tell your story? Maybe a kid, grandkid, biographer or stranger. There is a simpler answer, really.

If you are willing, you will.

I Won’t Stub My Toe

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We are turning the corner away from winter toward spring and I’m waiting for the first smell of honeysuckle and jasmine. It’s a southern springtime marker for me.

Spring pulls us out of our stuffy houses and coats and opens up a lot of life. We throw open our windows and sunroofs, toes and shoulders and watch all that was dead coming to life right before our eyes.

In watching a whole lot of life bloom we, by default, start with a lot of death.

(A lot of death! Happy Wednesday!)

On Wednesday, Saturday, Monday – whatever day – for someone somewhere, even in the midst of spring, there is a covering of wintery death. Death of a loved one, career, pet, relationship, pregnancy. The grief is strong and, for a period of time, it’s hard to know how the world honestly keeps spinning and people are still shopping at Target.

These “little” deaths – as strong as they are at the time – are so useful to the Lord. He takes these grand-picture smaller deaths and shows us how life grows in the midst, how beauty is made from ashes. Death brings life. Springtime to our winter. We can learn a lot by losing something or someone dear then watching the Lord go to resurrection work. It grows faith for the next loss. It helps us trust that nothing is really the end.

But this is hard. Really hard. Perhaps the hardest part of living, ironically.

I visited my counselor recently and he talked about this recent season of life. He referenced Psalm 23 and pointed straight to the “valley of the shadow of death,” the hard parts of life, these days when everything I touch seems to die in my hands. Dark, dark days.

“Don’t worry about pace. Go as slow as you need to. No one goes sprinting through the dark and expects not to stump their toe.”

I am checking my watch. Why the tears, still? Where are the answers? Where is the resolution? Shouldn’t the wound be set? Where’s the life? I’ve had enough of this death. Let’s move on.

I say this at winter’s end too. Where are the flowers? The longer days? The Reese’s eggs? I’m ready to run on.

Today I may shuffle if I need to, barely moving, feeling my way through what I can’t see. I may only have the strength to break off one phone call, or send a couple of emails. Or honestly, some days I may not have it in me to do any of it. But this is true, a shuffle is still moving forward, away from death and into life.

I won’t sprint through the dark. I won’t run hard away from the hard. New life blooms at the Lord’s choosing. The pace will be as slow as it needs to be to fully come alive.

Winter Reading

Summer reading is a thing. Why not winter reading? I’m not exactly sure what qualifies as a book one would read in the winter in the same we thing about beach reads, but either way, here is what I’ve been reading these past few months.

Warning: LOTS of non-fiction ahead. I can’t explain why. Maybe that’s winter reading. Currently taking recommendations on some over the top novels. I think I need one.

Here’s what I’ve read so far in January and February:

When Breath Becomes Air – Clear your reading list and put this at the top. Seriously. One of the most endearing, beautiful, haunting books I’ve ever read. Please do not let the book description make you sad and steer you away. It is hopeful and lovely. This will be one I recommend for a long, long time.

The Power of Habit – This book has been around a while, but I really wanted to read it at the start of the year. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking it is all scientific-y and hard to digest. It is surprisingly easy to read. This book really opened my eyes to how habits form unconsciously or not.

David & Goliath – What can I say? It is another great book by Gladwell. Again, it’s been around a while, but this one is pretty classic. I didn’t love it as much as some of his others, but it is still a worthy read.

Why Not Me? – I can say nothing other than, WRITTEN BY MINDY KALING!! Speaks for itself.

The Silver Chair – I am reading through the Chronicles of Narnia series and feel like I could spend years with these little books. Incredible, as they have been for years and years. They need no words from little ‘ole me, for sure.

Between the World and Me – Deep breath. First of all, let me say, this book is BEAUTIFULLY written. Take-your-breath-away beautiful. Think if Kendrick Lamar wrote a book. There is a cadence to his work, as if you were listening to a poet read it out loud. It is short – only around 150 pages – but rich. He tackles some tough issues surrounding race in this country and for that reason, it can be a punch in the gut. I am clearly a middle class white girl from the suburbs. I have no framework for some of the issues Coates presents in this book. In a way, this makes the book all the more important.

Currently reading. More to come:

Small Victories
The Comeback
Lit

On to Spring reading, if that is a thing. How about let’s make that a thing?

 

Dear Clemson Football

Dear Clemson Football,

Let me be clear from the start of this letter, I am a Gamecock fan through and through. No other school will ever hold my allegiance like the University of South Carolina. The very bricks of The Horseshoe are paved with my blood, sweat, tears, and tuition money. My years spent at USC are some of the most formative and best parts of my life. Forever to thee.

This makes this letter all the more interesting.

I want to dislike this adventure you are on. I want to dislike everything about Monday night. I want to be envious. I want to squint my eyes, purse my lips, and cross my arms and stubbornly scorn you for your perfect-thus-far season.

But I can’t do that.

Here’s proof the Lord has a sense of humor: I live almost exactly ten miles from your campus, a Gamecock swept up out of Columbia and dropped in the middle of Tiger-town. Stores are plastered with the color orange. The streets around my house are traffic-y and dense on game days. A favorite little coffee shop has to, of course, be on your campus. I nearly hugged a woman in Target the other day wearing a Carolina hoodie simply because there are so few of us and it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. Solidarity.

I spent the first couple of years living here bickering, staking ground, standing up for MY school, making a point. Then over the years, the point became less clear or important and I would rather live in peace than prove anything. So we’ve coexisted, you and I. You, the big, bad, enemy, and me in my garnet and black.

As always, there are good and bad years for every team. This year, the wins have racked up for you, and the Gamecocks bottomed out. There wasn’t much to say.

Then Dabo BYOG’ed us in the pouring rain. He threw a pizza party. He danced. If there is a way to not love a coach that dances, please let me know.

On Monday, I hope you do well. I still think Alabama, with all the might of the SEC, will put up a fight, but I hope you do well. This state needs something to celebrate. This past year was brutal. Our hearts still hurt from the careless bullets in Charleston. Our lives are still wrecked from October flood waters. Football is not the answer. In fact, the Championship game is small in comparison to the real hurt people in the state – in the nation – have experienced this year. But we need a chance to cheer again. Off you go into Monday night as carriers of that chance.

I hope we do cheer. I hope more than just half of the state – the half that openly claim orange and white – cheer you on. I hope that those of us who wear the USC college ring and our hearts on our sleeves can set aside the rivalry for just one night. I hope you bring the guts of all the South Carolinians with you. I hope you give Dabo a reason to dance.

And if you throw another pizza party, I’ll come. I’ll be wearing my garnet and black, but I’ll be there, celebrating all the way. Until next year.

Loss Prevention

When I was seventeen, just a few months shy of high school graduation, my parents approached me about getting a part-time job. They never wanted my brother or I to work while we were in  high school, but in their minds, seventeen was the ideal age to officially enter the world of W-4s, W-2s and W-9s.

While this seems easy enough, I was admittedly prideful and picky and wouldn’t take any job at the mall or a restaurant. The search was complicated all the more by a tricky post-graduation summer schedule where I would be gone more than I was in town. I took my unrealistic criteria and entered the job market optimistic nonetheless.

There were no takers.

One day, I was walking down the hall of my high school and an English teacher, Mrs. Rawl, stopped me. “My husband’s office is hiring administrative help. Would you be interested? And can you tell me right now if you will take the job.”

So I found myself in a land of cubicles and leather bound tax code books working for a lobbyist. When I answered the phone for the first time, it was the Governor’s Office. Deep end it was.

All through college, I never waited a table or restocked a retail store. I often wondered how the college experience would be different if I had. I knew office politics and Outlook. I knew copy machines and multi-line phones, but I think I missed some things too. What those things were, I wasn’t sure, but I knew the hybrid college/business professional life was a bit of an enigma. Still, I steadily worked that job and another through my twenties, high heels, hemmed slacks and all.

This year, a career ended unexpectedly and after taking a few months to heal and rest, I brushed off an incredibly dusty resume and began searching. The process was long and hard and more emotional than expected. I submitted hundreds of applications, went on dozens of interviews and spent hours on the phone. As the months inched on, emails came back that began with “We regret to inform you….” and ended with “Good luck in your endeavors….,” if I heard back at all. Exhausted and nearly out of options, I turned my attention to the retail work I’d avoided so many years ago.

One lone retailer called me back, explained I was their target demographic, and wanted me to come in to chat. I dug through my closet and pulled together an outfit that looked like it would sell in the store which was more anxiety inducing than I thought it would be. Even as I walked up to the store, I wanted to keep walking. I wanted pridefully to simply be a customer. I didn’t want to be on the other side of the register. I wanted a steady salary that allow me to simply be a customer. They hired me, and since nothing else was even remotely on the horizon, I got to work, a thirty-ish year old working retail for the first time in my life.

My feet and back ached for a few solid weeks. I ate meals at off times around my shifts, and learned how to carry on conversations while listening to chatter over a radio in my ear. But my co-workers and managers were extremely nice and, I can honestly say, so were the customers.

I imagined what it would be like the first time someone I knew came in the well-trafficked store. “Didn’t you used to work….?” “What are you doing here on a Wednesday morning?” Or worse, no one would speak and pretend they didn’t see me at all. My plan was to hide in the fitting rooms, or if I couldn’t make it in time  pull my hair over my radio and pretend I was shopping.

There is a term that floats around retail. Loss prevention is simply the measures a store takes to deter theft. Every place is a little different, but the goal is to net out in the positive with as little loss as possible, to be profitable with spotless records.

Profitable, spotless, netting out on the good side, are unspoken life goals. No one writes “come out on the good side of life” as a New Year resolution. It just IS. We default to beautiful and easy. No one chooses to take the bumpy way.

I wanted to prevent loss. I wanted to look like the story was bright and shiny like the wares in the store. I wanted perfectly curated and flawlessly styled. But then it gets messy and imperfect, and I want to run and save face in the fitting room.

A funny thing happened, though. It wasn’t hard to tell the story. I wasn’t hard to say, “This has been a tough season, this is where I am, and it’s beautiful, don’t you think? There are certainly worse places to be.” The imperfect, unfinished story is prettier. Loss prevention, saving face as it were, never made sense. The more compelling story, the most relatable story, is hard, long, and unexpected. I think we are all walking around in these imperfect lives just waiting for someone to come out of hiding and declare that it’s alright for us all to do the same.

I’m done preventing loss. If loss must come, it is because something needed to be taken away in order for more a more beautiful story to be written. May we all be less afraid of what may leave us. Full of faith and less afraid.

Pound Cake and Paper Scraps

Nanny had a little chihuahua named Pup and instead of kibble, Pup got a pan grilled hamburger for lunch. This happened more days than not. Stating the obvious, Pup was chubby.

One of my earliest memories is breakfast at Nanny’s house. Nanny is my mom’s mom and she, Granddaddy Bill, and Pup lived just a couple of blocks from my preschool. Every day, mom would get me ready for school and instead of pulling together breakfast, we would leave early and stop by Nanny’s house for eggs, bacon, toast, grits, and the like. I’m not sure Nanny ever had a box of Pop-Tarts or Lucky Charms in her house. For a women who fried hamburgs for her dog, this is not surprising.

After the breakfast plates were cleared and cleaned, we were off to school and work and by 10am, Nanny had dinner – or supper, or whatever you call the evening meal – was on the stove. Lunch was an afterthought baloney and mustard sandwich, but dinner took time. Green beans need a good couple of hours steeping in fatback to be nice and southern soggy. Tomatoes have to stew. Lima beans need to be shelled. This was a average Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or every day.

My grandparents lived in a modest house on the unassuming side of town, but they ate like kings. Every meal had a meat, usually pan or chicken fried this or that, and a smattering of “vegetables,” keeping in mind that a vegetable to Nanny could be mac and cheese or rice and gravy. She never used a recipe. She always measured ingredients in the palm of her hand, if she measured at all. She was a sit-at-the-table-until-your-plate-is-clean type of lady. Read: you don’t have to like it, but you have to eat it. When standing at the crossroads of staying at the table with a bunch of no-fun adults or playing outside in the Carolina sun, you learn to eat broccoli casserole.

Because of her, because of how she cooked and loved us with her hours in the kitchen, I think my family sees food differently. Feeding people is a way to love them and this one truth was so subtlety woven into our family that it was easy to take for granted. Nanny cooked breakfast every morning because it was a way to love my mom who was juggling a job, a five year old, and a baby. Cooking was her way of acknowledging the days were at once long and never long enough. She couldn’t take away the burdens of the day, but she could love us in a way she knew well.

I think a lot about Nanny this time of year. Our family’s Christmas dinner consist almost solely of Nanny’s recipes – sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (no pecans, thank you), stuffing, the aforementioned broccoli casserole, her homemade mac and cheese. But what I remember most about the holidays were her cakes. There was red velvet cake, moist and in the most beautiful color. Hummingbird cake filled with banana and nuts. And there was always, always, pound cake. Her pound cake is the stuff of legend in our family. That humble pound cake, simple as it was, held it’s own alongside the more stately companions.

When Nanny died, our family found dozens of scrap pieces of paper. In her own hand on whatever was nearby at the time, Nanny would write down bits of recipes. Church bulletins, receipts, Cool Whip lids, all scribbled with notes and measurements. The tiny scrap of paper with her pound cake recipe remains one thing my family would grab out of the house in case of fire.

I’ve sat with those tiny scraps a million times over my life, wishing I could make sense of them all but overwhelmingly grateful to have them. I’ve handed them to my mom and asked what she thinks Nanny was trying to make with mayo, dried breadcrumbs and paprika. Mom would look at the scraps and fill in the gaps. That apple cake scrap of paper? Add oil to that recipe. Nanny always used oil in her apple cake. Or the Italian Cream Cheese cake? Nanny’s had coconut. She didn’t write that down, but always add coconut. Maybe it’s because they are written in her own hand or maybe it’s a way to remember her, but I treasure those scribbles almost more than anything in my life.

A couple of years ago, I decided to make Nanny’s pound cake as Christmas gifts. I asked mom if I could use Nanny’s dented, old bundt pan. There have no doubt been hundreds of pound cakes baked in that pan. It is beat up, thin, seasoned, probably the cheapest in the store, nothing fancy, but it was hers. With that well-used pan and tiny scrap of paper, I spent hours creaming butter and sugar, cracking eggs. I hope the people who got those pound cakes enjoyed them, but more than anything, I hope they felt well loved. I hope they could feel love rolling down through the generations from one incredible lady through the legacy she leaves behind. Pound cake, paper scraps and all.

Because this post would not be complete without it, here is Nanny’s pound cake recipe. It’s laughably simple, but still completely beautiful. I’ll let the little scrap of paper speak for itself.
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Available

It’s pouring rain outside this coffee shop. Pouring. I wanted to leave and not write, but I’m stuck. Held hostage by a car too far away and no umbrella.

So I will type.

Over the weekend, I heard this from author and lover of people Bob Goff:
“I don’t think people follow vision. I think they follow availability.”

I love vision. We would all flounder without it. But I get this. I’ve learned the hard way.

Let’s dial back just a few months ago. I promise you would never see my face. A description of me would read something like, “A mess of long dark brown hair, hunched over a computer at all times. I’ve only ever seen the top of her head.” or “I’m not entirely sure. She looks like a whirlwind that just spun by.”

Busy. No, not busy. Crazy.

But we are all busy, right?

Can I just call for an end to this? Because I’m not busy and neither are you. We simply make time for what is most important. And for me, my to-do list was king. My Type-A personality was law and excuse. And I missed a lot of people along the way.

A dream job ended a little while ago and though the entire story is much too long and personal to tell here, the whole storm was a mix of pride, selfishness, doubt and hopelessness. It’s a story of being wound so tight and shut off that I might as well have been the last person earth because that is how I functioned anyway.

Friends had babies, started new relationships, physically moved or been moved by something so great and emotional in their lives it was way too heavy to bear. All the while, they stared at the top of my head.

This is my public confession.

When something breaks it is mostly because it needs to. I know there are flukes in life, but for every random fender bender, there are a million more engines that fail because we never change our oil. When it breaks, we wake up. Care must happen along the way. It is never all or nothing.

So I broke. A lot broke. And it needed to.

The narrative is long and tender and maybe not for this outlet, but these days I spend my time reading and writing and praying for what is next. I’m trusting deeply. Waiting patiently. And I see people. I see friends and people who I’ve always wanted to see. I’m holding babies and enduring potty training bootcamps with new moms. I’m sharing cups of coffee and telling stories that have been begging to be told for way too long.

Can you come over? Yes.
Can you change that diaper? Yes.
Can you pray for this? Yes.
Can you go for a walk? Yes.

Not out of obligation or fear, but because I can and want to. Simply because showing up is half of it. Being available is all of it.

My metaphorical and literal door is open. In life I respond to people who this is true of. Wouldn’t it stand to reason others would want this most from me? This is how we love. If you are here, I am here too.

Letter Home – To the city I love

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To the good people in Columbia,

I’m headed home today, and home is under water. Your home, my home. Streets you live and I grew up on are on the national news. I just saw that Jarvis Klapman road was closed today. That’s how my mom got to work for 30 years. In college, my first rental house was right next door to the flooded Gervais Street Bridge, pictured above in prettier times.

Phrases like “structural integrity” and “compromised foundations” are thrown about as if they aren’t talking about the roads you take to work or the houses you live in. Flood, bursting dams, evacuations? This can’t be real.

No, not here. Not home.

Home is so different from hometown. Hometowns you leave behind, hoping they change rather than stepping into change ourselves. But home has a way of staying the same. It’s steady. A rock while we grow. Sometimes home seems indestructible. Sometimes things seem like they will always be. We know too well that isn’t true. We see the water and know it isn’t true.

I can’t imagine how numb you feel. I can’t imagine how surreal this seems. The skies opened up, it starting raining and didn’t stop. Then dams broke, streets flooded and lives and livelihoods washed away. Here on the first dry, sunny week, it feels like it will never be right again. How does a person try to remember their home insurance policy AND look through the mud for stored baby blankets wedding photo albums?

It’s hard. It will be hard for a long time. But we can do hard things. WE can do hard things (cited here). Not you yourself. Please don’t try to pick up the pieces alone. Please don’t try to tough it out. There is a hardheaded stubbornness in the city. Columbians don’t survive every infamously hot summer without some grit. Take the case of water, accept the help in cleaning out your home, receive the hug when it’s all too much.

Fight like the fighters you are. But also trust more deeply than you have ever trusted. Know that the Lord is coming. He sees you and your home and car and business. Every day you will be sustained. Every day.

The Lord never leaves or forsakes. He is for people at the end of the rope, people who have tremendous loss. So on the days that are just too hard and the mess is just too much, please remember this. You, as a people, are too incredible to cave.

Fight and trust. Fight and trust.

Log on to floodscwithlove.com to see how we all can serve our state.

Crowing, Barking, Roaring – Welcome back, college football. We’ve missed you.

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We’ve made it. We have endured the sadness that sets in as the whistle blows to end the the championship game. This is the door step of another college football season, with all the pre-season uncertainty, the big talk, heavy promises, and curated talking points. We are back again.

It’s the time of year when strangers wearing the same colors are, for at least four quarters, family. Tailgate fare – dips, chicken fingers,pigs-in-a-blanket – are acceptable food no matter what time of day. Voices are hoarse and noses are sunburned. Tailgate rigs rival brick and mortar homes.

There is something to be said for the atmosphere around college football in particular. We love the buzz as much as we love the X’s and O’s. And in the South, buzz it does. It is here grown men and women ring cowbells, crow like roosters, roar like tigers and bark like dogs. And if reality isn’t suspended enough, that grown man barking like a dog on Saturday is very likely the person cleaning teeth on Tuesday or doing taxes on Thursday. The buzz is as intoxicating as the alcohol in koozy-coated beer bottles.

Give us the underdog. Give us the fourth quarter comeback. Give us the back-of-the-end zone-catch. Give us the just eeked through filed goal. Let us bite our nails. Let us pace the floor and cover our faces. Give us the tight games over the blow outs any day.

Deep down, we like the uncertainty of it all. We like going into a match up we think we understand and in three hours proven right or wrong and we, as a general rule, love to be right. There is plenty of room for all manner of postulation and theories. We can be coach, fan, and athletic director all rolled up in our amateur selfs. We love wearing all the hats.

So let’s spend the next five months eating, hoping, coaching, cheering, pacing and pleading. Let’s spend the next five months loving every minute.

And Go Gamecocks. Forever to thee.

Stacks of Books

At some point this summer, I looked around at the stacks of books in my house and wondered what eccentric hermit had taken up residence with me. Only the word “eccentric” seems to be used for people who are wealthy and a little bit not with it. I’ll cop to the “little bit not with it” category, but wealthy I am not.

Let’s just say, I’ve read a lot in these days.

Surprisingly, I read more non-fiction/bio/memoir than expected this summer. Usually in the summer months, I crave a good fiction story, but strangely, I gravitated to more real life things.

So here is the list of all I’ve read in these months:

Columbine – My first dip into the “true crime” genre of books and it did not disappoint. I’ll watch all the fictionalized crime shows all day, but as soon any of it begins to dip into real events, I run the other way. But this book was different. There was a journalistic approach to the tragedy that made me relate to the survivors and families of the victims. Be prepared, everything known about Columbine is examined and so much found to be false. So very interesting.

If You Find This Letter – I’ve followed Hannah’s blog for a while and love her honesty and candor. This book focuses in on her life post college and her learning to love people, mostly perfect strangers, well.

Favorite quote: “…it is one thing to be the girl on fire, but it is entirely another thing to be the girl who manages to set the world on fire with all the quiet and beautiful things she does.”

Tables In the Wilderness – Another memoir I loved. Yancey’s writing style isn’t for everyone, but it is beautiful all the same. This book focuses on Yancey’s faith journey through college and the years following. If you’ve ever struggled through waiting on the Lord, silence, and being still, this is a great book.

Favorite quote: “A broken vessel cannot control how it pours out.”

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Quirky. That is the one word that comes to mind when I think about this book. I think all of Jon Ronson’s books are. But even with all it’s strangeness, this is a compelling and necessary book. Public shaming did not die with burning at the stake. In fact in this era of social media, it is alive and well.

Favorite quote in regards to shaming through Twitter: “The snowflake never thinks it is responsible for the avalanche.”

To Kill A Mockingbird – Favorite book of all time. I will gladly join the chorus of so many of us that claim so. And this summer, I was reminded of all the reasons why. Beautiful, beautiful work.

In the Unlikely Event – I thought I would like this book more than I did. It is a good fiction read and I would recommend it to anyone, but there are a LOT of characters and I sort of got lost in who was who and how they all related to each other. But if you like Judy Blume (Superfudge was one of my favorite books as a kid), you will more than likely enjoy this one.

Creativity, Inc. – I’m late to the game on this one, but I am so glad to finally read this incredible book. The world of Pixar and the culture they have created is worthy of examination. My hand was cramped from all the notes I took. Absolutely blown away by this one.

Too many quotes to sum this one up, but I do love this one: “I believe, to my core, that everybody had the potential to be creative – whatever form that creativity takes – and that to encourage such development is a noble thing.”

Discernment – One of two books I read by Nouwen this summer. I cried my way through both of them. He writes in such a tender and broken way, as if he truly loves any nameless, faceless person that may pick up one of his books. You can feel the humility coming off the page.

Turn My Mourning Into Dancing – This book is short and I mistakenly thought I would breeze through it in a manner of days. This was so convicting it took me nearly a month to get through it.

On Deck:

Peace Like a River – I’m barely in, but I can already tell this is going to be one of my all-time favorites. Unreal beautiful.

Go Set a Watchman – We will see what this one holds!

Beloved – I’ve never read anything by Morrison so I’m excited to jump in.

So as we say goodbye to my beloved summer, we will all head into the cooler months with stacks and stacks of books. Happy reading, my friends!