"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite pastime is reading. It is something beyond a pastime actually, it is probably one of my greatest passions. I love to read, to talk about books and what I have read, and I simply adore recommending books to friends and even strangers. I am that somewhat annoying person you see in bookstores going up to store customers and putting a book in their hand, when they are contemplating something else in a particular section. (I can't help myself).

But, as well as my friends know this, only a few know that in and around 1996, I was not that way at all. I had, somewhere down the line, lost that love for reading. And then, a friend recommended that I read Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt. I swear I can remember vividly reading parts of that book to this day, curled up on my couch in Atlanta, where I lived at the time. I thought it was about the most perfect book I had ever read. Angela's Ashes made me remember why I had once loved reading, it awakened that passion in me, and made me seek out more books, more reading, and I haven't slowed down since. Reading the books I have read has enriched my life, and it is one of my greatest pleasures.

So, Frank McCourt gave that gift back to me. How amazing is that?

And today, I got a news bulletin from NPR that Frank McCourt had died. It made my stomach drop. He was 78, and I know lived a very full, rewarding life. But still, it made me sad. What a loss for the literary world and his fans.

Something else I often do, especially more recently, is write to authors of books I have read. The outcome has been some amazing communications I never expected from quite famous authors. I am angry with myself because I never wrote to Frank McCourt and let him know that gift he gave me. I know he received plenty of accolades, and surely didn't miss the one from me. But, I still wish I had written.

Today, Angela's Ashes is still my favorite book. I have read countless books since then, but I will always have a soft spot for that title, and it's author, Frank McCourt.

If you are reading this post and haven't read Angela's Ashes, I command you to do so! It is a beautiful memoir of Frank McCourt's childhood in poverty in Ireland, but is so funny in parts, you will laugh out loud and startle those around you. It is also touching, inspirational, and beautifully written. What more could you ask for?

Read more about Frank here and here.

Buy the book Angela's Ashes here.

Photo courtesy NPR.org


marsha July 28, 2009 at 6:40 PM  

thanks so much Kim. I haven't read Angela's Ashes but plan to in the next few months. I just finished the glass castle and felt the same way you did.

virginia July 28, 2009 at 8:47 PM  

i posted about his death, too.

years ago i bought a dozen copies of angela's ashes...passed them out to everyone i knew.

congrats on blog of note.

Rebecca Elizabeth Davies (Bex) July 29, 2009 at 5:28 AM  

I read his third autobiography 'Teacher Man' as I was completing my teacher training and it gave me the inspiration to carry on... such an amazing writer, yet you were always aware of his humanity. I remember thinking to myself "He struggled at the beginning and yet he became so great and admired, then perhaps there's hope for me too!" I wish I had written to him. One of the best writers of his generation.

cheryl (clee) July 29, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

I know the feeling - losing interest in reading for awhile - but I don't remember a particular book that pulled me back in. Thanks for the review. I will put "Angela's Ashes" on my list!

Heartfelt July 29, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

This book sounds great. Perhaps I will find myself reading it.Lately I have found myself tied up in other aspects of my life, and have put the books down; this post encouraged me to pick up a good book and get lost in it (as I usually do).

siedne July 29, 2009 at 1:34 PM  

I LOVE Angela's Ashes too. It's one of my all-time favourite books. Glad to know another person who shares this love (of the book) and sorrow (from his death).

Marlo Perez July 30, 2009 at 2:25 AM  

thanks for the article. I am into reading too. My favorite authors are John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, John Saul among others. I have many books mostly on philosophy, management and general fiction.

Mariana July 30, 2009 at 3:12 AM  

OMG! i didnt knew that he died!! i read Angela's Ashes some months ago because of my school program and i liked it even when im not really sure why, but i consider it one of the greatest book i've read. =( so bad that he left us..
ps: i like your blog =) i picked it randomly from blogs of note and you caught me with the eiffel tower and when i see that you love to write and read ^^

Daryl July 31, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

You have a wonderful blog and what a heart-wrenching post about the man with a whole other life. You're a great writer!

I remember well the days I spent reading Angela's Ashes and then 'Tis and Teacher Man. We were able to hear Frank McCourt speak a few years ago. He read from Teacher Man. Such a loss.

I'm currently reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Just started it. I see it's on your shelf. We seem to have similar taste in books :)

leo July 31, 2009 at 8:38 PM  

Hi, Angela Ashes is still one of the best book I've read. I blogged about it after finish reading it. Cant quite get over it yet even thou it has been almost a year. It does leave a lasting impression on you. I cried buckets. Offered my copy to several people whom also love it.

Teenage Envy July 31, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

Interesting. Frank McCourt must have been a great writer. I will check out his book. But, in the meantime. Do you have any suggestions?

Entrepreneur Chick August 1, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

There is a particular non-fiction writer that I have been meaning to write for over 10 years and thank for her help and insight. I credit her series of books in helping me make a change that I so desperately needed. You've lit a fire under me. Thank you!

█▌▄▌▀▐█ August 2, 2009 at 11:39 AM  

Angela's Ashes pulled me back to reading too. I'm sad for Mr. McCourt too (damn Cancer). i'm looking for 'Tis... and that "teacher man" rebecca talked about, i'll look for that too.

msprimadonna67 August 24, 2009 at 2:34 AM  

Angela's Ashes was such an amazing read--it's one of my all-time favorites!


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