A friend sent me a link to an Opinion column in the New York Times from June 16, 2018 – What Kept Me From Killing Myself by novelist and Iraq War veteran, Kevin Powers. Powers, who in 2005 was suffering from depression and possible PTSD, found his will to live again in books. His life-affirming experience began with reading the words of poet Dylan Thomas. Powers writes of the experience:
“For the first time in a long while I recognized myself in another, and somehow that simple tether allowed me to slowly pull myself away from one of the most terrifying beliefs common to the kind of ailment I’m describing: that one is utterly alone, uniquely so, and that this condition is permanent.”
Books have meant a great deal to me as well. I don’t always plan it, but somehow the right book always seems to end up in my hands. As I type this, I can think of several books that saw me through challenging times in my life from Paula Danziger’s The Pistachio Prescription that I read as a pre-pubescent middle-schooler to Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone that I read as I began my post-college adult life. Then there was Marly Swick’s Evening News, a novel about a family torn apart after an accidental shooting. It was the last book I read before my mother took her own life. The book reminded me, amidst our own pain, that our family, too, would survive.
What books have carried you through difficult times?