New Essay Collections: Festival Days, Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing

Festival Days, by Jo Ann Beard It's a lofty goal, to imagine translating one's own personal experiences in a way that instructs and illuminates, moves and inspires, another human being. Jo Ann Beard is long known for her essay collection The Boys of My Youth, frequently cited as groundbreaking amongst literary personal essays. After a... Continue Reading →

Matt Haig on Depression, Anxiety, Panic, and Our Overconnected World

Novelist Matt Haig's two short but powerful books cover his struggles and coping methods for mental illness -- namely depression, in Reasons to Stay Alive, and anxiety in Notes on a Nervous Planet. They both read blog-like -- sometimes confessional, sometimes lists, here focusing on a brighter side and elsewhere acknowledging the depths these illnesses... Continue Reading →

How Cooking Made Living Seem Possible

Book review: Midnight Chicken, by Ella Risbridger (Amazon / Book Depository) There is a German word, kummerspeck, that translates literally as 'grief-bacon,' and metaphorically as 'comfort eating'. This book is the grief-bacon book...This is the book I wanted to read when I was sad, but it's also a book for good days. I'm not going... Continue Reading →

Rhapsodizing Blue

Book review: Bluets, by Maggie Nelson (Amazon / Book Depository) Last night I wept in a way I haven’t wept for some time. I wept until I aged myself. I watched it happen in the mirror. I watched the lines arrive around my eyes like engraved sunbursts; it was like watching flowers open in time-lapse... Continue Reading →

The Complicated Necessity of Solitude

Book review: Journal of a Solitude, by May Sarton (Amazon / Book Depository) I am way outside somewhere in the wilderness. And it has been a long time of being in the wilderness. Writer May Sarton retreated to a cottage in New Hampshire for one year, where she holed up and wrote and confronted the seasons, both of the... Continue Reading →

Being Okay with Being Unhappy

Book review: This Close to Happy, by Daphne Merkin Writer and literary critic Daphne Merkin, a former staff writer for the New Yorker, has suffered lifelong depression. She's been trying to write a memoir about her illness and attempts to cure, or at least contain, it for more than a decade. It was finally published in February.... Continue Reading →

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