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Books Close to Home and the Heart

Posted On October 10, 2022

Fall reading that informs and inspires

By Lewis Bowling

Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow with Roseann Foley Henry
Steven Petrow, who lives in Hillsborough, N.C., has written a book about things his parents did as they aged that he didn’t want to replicate as he got older. This book, full of wit and humor, addresses habits of aging such as constantly telling others of your aches and pains, hoarding, refusing to use hearing aids even though it is obvious to all that they are needed. So Petrow came up with “stupid things I won’t do when I get old,” such as coloring his hair, double-spacing after periods, and telling his life story when someone asks, “How are you?” By his fifties, Petrow had begun to notice many of the things he was doing were those his parents had done that he hoped he wouldn’t do. But age catches us all! Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old will make you smile while at the same time make you think more deeply about how to age with grace. Petrow’s book will give readers more compassion for those who have reached the elderly years. When you reach the last page of this one, you will be ready for an encore.

Fifteen Hurricanes That Changed the Carolinas by Jay Barnes
September is in the heart of peak hurricane season for us in the Tar Heel state. In fact, September is the most active month of the Atlantic hurricane season. Statistically North Carolina has the fourth most hurricanes of any state in the United States. These facts and much more are found in Fifteen Hurricanes That Changed the Carolinas, written by Jay Barnes. Barnes lives in Raleigh and is President and CEO of the North Carolina Aquarium Society. Many of the hurricanes covered are ones many of us will readily recognize, such as Hazel in 1954, and more recent ones, like Floyd in 1999 and Florence in 2018. But Barnes goes all the way back to The Great Carolina Hurricane of 1752. The Great Asheville Flood of 1916 killed up to eighty people and caused widespread damage. The book is amply stocked with vivid photographs, and a Takeaways section at the end of some chapters explains the science of hurricanes and why they often inflict so much damage. Informative and timely, Barnes also shares insights into what to expect from future hurricanes as the earth warms and seas rise.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
Depression gripped William Styron in 1985 so deeply that he considered suicide. By then Styron, a graduate of Duke University, had written such notable books as Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner which won a Pulitzer Prize. Darkness Visible chronicles Styron’s descent into depression and his eventual recovery. Styron, with his onset of depression in 1985, noticed subtle changes, such as nightfalls seeming more somber, mornings less joyful, walks in the woods less invigorating, and his days spent trying to write being less productive. Styron writes candidly of his finally emerging “into light” through a hospitalization, therapy, and turning to friends for help.

Darkness Visible is a guide for those “who have dwelt in depression’s dark wood.” The author narrates how he was restored to a capacity for joy and serenity. Reading of his travails and triumphs can take readers through a despair that inflicts so many to the beauty of much better days.  

My Poet by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Jen Hill
If you have a child or know of a child who is interested in how poets find inspiration for their words, read and give them a copy of the children’s book, My Poet. Written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Jen Hill, this book is an absolute great way to introduce the art and craft of writing to budding young writers and poets. It is written for ages 4 to 8, and for those many readers out there who are fans of the celebrated poet, Mary Oliver, My Poet is an ode to Oliver from MacLachlan. Just as Mary Oliver drew inspiration for her poetry from nature, from the natural world around her, My Poet teaches children to find their own words from the lives they live, from birds singing in their back yard, from fish in a local pond. My Poet is richly detailed through its well-chosen words and glowing artwork. If you want to inspire and help a child develop the love of reading and learn the craft of writing, My Poet is an insightful page turner.