Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mourning in the shadows

As you've probably heard, Rav Ovadia Yosef died yesterday.

Israeli news sites reported that over 800,000 people turned out to pay their last respects to the 93 year old Torah scholar and leader of Sephardi Jewry. 
צילום: משה מזרחי, חדשות 24
Everyone from public figures, senior politicians, and leading Rabbis have been offering sound bites praising Rav Ovadia, and many "regular" people have been posting their "the time I met Rav Ovadia" story on Facebook. 

The news coverage, in every possible medium, has been non-stop.

And I have nothing to add to the public discourse about Rav Ovadia. 

I want to talk about someone else. 

I don't know his name and neither do you.

I've never met him.

I've never met his family and I probably never will.

He died yesterday. Or maybe the day before, maybe today.

But he wasn't famous. He wasn't a scholar, or the founder of a political party. 

He was a regular person, like you and me. Not perfect. Human. 

Maybe he lived a long life and was blessed with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren like Rav Ovadia.

Maybe he was in the prime of his life with a wife and children, a job, a mortgage. 

Maybe he died young, in his twenties or teens.

Maybe even a child or infant.

There's a lot I don't know about him. But I know this - he has a family. 

And as difficult as it is to lose someone you love, when their death is overshadowed by the death of a famous person, it is that much more difficult. 

It feels like the entire world is caught up in mourning this public figure, and your world has just ended. Your son/husband/father wasn't famous but to you he was EVERYTHING. Your personal tragedy is so enormous and overwhelming. And everyone is talking about this public figure who died. And you just don't care.

I know, it sounds petty. Unless you've been there, unless you've experienced it, unless you've felt it. Then you get to add anger, resentment, and guilt to all the other feelings you're experiencing. And you can't tell anyone how you feel because you think they'll judge you.

But there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings.  The way you feel is the way you feel. And the good thing about feelings is that they eventually pass. 

And though each year, when the anniversary rolls around, you have to deal with the public frenzy again, it gets easier.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

10 years

Ten years is a lifetime.

In 10 years, 13 year olds finish middle school and start high school.

They learn how to drive and get their license.

They graduate.

They go the army or sherut leumi.

They travel around the world before starting university.

They go to university.

They graduate. 

They fall in love, possibly more than once.

Maybe their hearts get broken.

They meet "the one."

They get married.

They start a family.

Their life moves forward...

Ten years is the blink of an eye.

It is seconds and minutes and hours of yearning.

It is hoping, always, that one morning, you will wake up and discover it's just a bad dream.

It is looking at a group of teenagers, then young adults, and expecting to see her there. 

It is always a shock that she is not. 

It is countless meals and holidays and family gatherings that always she is missing.

It is wondering all the time what she would look like now, what she would be doing, where life would have taken her. 

It is an emptiness that never goes away.

It is life, it is reality, it is something you never get used to.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 reading roundup

This is my fifth year doing a year end reading roundup and I've decided to do something different this time around. First I'll list the 67 books I read this year with links to their pages on Amazon. Next, I've participated in Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner's 2012 End of Year Book Survey. At the bottom of her page you can find hundreds of links to others who've participated in her year end survey so if you're looking for more reading suggestions, definitely check that out. I've linked to the books' pages on Goodreads and if the author has a website I've linked to that as well. And finally, I've created an infographic of the books I read using Piktochart. I'm very excited about my infographic and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. I'd love to hear your feedback on my infographic, and hear what books you enjoyed reading in 2012! 

Here is the list of books I read, in reverse order, newest to oldest read.
     1.    Monsters of Templeton
     2.    The Light Between Oceans
     3.    Beauty Queens
     4.    Cloud Atlas
     5.    Caleb's Crossing
     6.    The Trafficked
     8.    The Frozen Heart
     9.    Await Your Reply
    10.  That Old Cape Magic
    11.  Sharp Objects
    12.  Running Blind
    13.  Nine Dragons
    14.  Cutting for Stone
    16.  Joy for Beginners
    17.  A Wanted Man
    18.  V Is for Vengeance
    19.  The Fallen Angel
    21.  The Grief of Others
    23.  Tripwire
    24.  Gone Girl
    25.  Alone in Berlin
    27.  Ready Player One
    30.  How I Live Now
    32.  The Stonecutter
    33.  The Lifeboat
    34.  Echo Burning
    35.  The Secret Speech
    36.  Real Life & Liars
    38.  Suite Francaise
    39.  The Expats
    40.  Learning To Swim
    41.  בלבב פנימה
    42.  The Lake of Dreams
    43.  Enlightenment
    45.  Domestic Violets
    46.  Buried Prey
    47.  The Angel's Game
    48.  Defending Jacob
    50.  The Snowman
    51.  The Giver
    53.  The Descendants
    55.  Adam & Eve
    56.  The Postmistress
    58.  Rage
    59.  Falling Together
    60.  One Day
    63.  The Night Circus
    65.  Great House
    66.  The Family Fang
Best In Books 2012
1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
I’m going to have to go with Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It’s an epic novel 
about two orphaned brothers growing up in Ethiopia. The writing, characters, and 
story are wonderful.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More 
But Didn’t?
I really enjoy Sue Grafton’s alphabet series featuring Kinsey Millhone but
V is for Vengeance is definitely one of Grafton's most disappointing books.
The characters were not at all believable, there were too many storylines and
minor characters to keep track of, and the ending wasn't satisfying at all.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
I expected The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe to be a depressing
tale about his mother dying but it was anything but depressing. I really need to check
out his list of books and add some to my wishlist.
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Once again, Cutting for Stone. See no. 1 above.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
I didn’t discover any new series but I did read several books from Lee Child’s
Jack Reacher series which I hadn’t read yet. I love the Reacher books and I’m
still debating whether I want to see the movie.
6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Obviously Abraham Verghese (see no. 1 and 4 above) but also Carlos Ruiz Zafon,
a Spanish author and Erin Morgenstern.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I don’t usually read short stories but I enjoyed Nathan Englander’s

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Defending Jacob by William Landay had me turning the pages to see where it
wound up. I had a literal gasp out loud moment before I got to the end.
9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
I rarely re-read books but if I did I would pick up Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess)
Let's Pretend This Never Happened again. She is laugh out loud funny.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Most definitely Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens. No explanation necessary.

11. Most memorable character in 2012?
Tom Sherbourne of M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans is an emotionally
wounded WWI vet struggling between doing what he knows is right and
keeping his fragile wife happy.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Definitely Cutting for Stone (see no. 1, 4, and 6 above).
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin, about a fractured family coming together

to memorialize their dead son and brother who was killed in Iraq.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
I read The Giver, by Lois Lowry because my daughter and her friend kept going
on about how boring and awful it was. And I LOVED it.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
“Going outside is highly overrated.”~ Ernest Cline, Ready Player One.
 I couldn’t agree with him more.
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
It’s hard to tell when most of your reading is done on a Kindle, but I think the
shortest book may have been The Giver and the longest was The Frozen Heart
by Almudena Grandes.
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk
To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, 
etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Although I didn’t really like this book, I’d have to say Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
had me urging my friends to finish it so we could discuss the ending.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic,  
friendship, etc.)
The friendship that develops between Daniel Sempere, the young protagonist of
Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind and the down on his luck Fermín
Romero de Torres is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Once again, Geraldine Brooks does a wonderful job bringing history to life with
Caleb’s Crossing, which takes place in 1665 New England and explores the
relationship of the Native Americans to the new Americans.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal was recommended by a co-worker and though it wasn’t something I would’ve ever chosen to read on my own, it was very interesting. 

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority
in 2013?
I’ve already started John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and so far, it’s great.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

Really? Just one? Here are a few that are on my wishlist already:

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer,

and What the Family Needed by Steven Amsterdam.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging
In 2013?
I would love to blog about the books I read but the truth is I never have the patience
for it. So I guess I just have to say, read more books. (And possibly read/listen
to Moby Dick)