2014 in Reading: By the numbers
New Nonfiction: 16 February 2015

Now we're talking: Meghan Daum's The Unspeakable

You know that reading experience when you see a book is coming out by a writer you love, and you can't wait to get that book, and then you get it, and it's everything you could have hoped for? Oh, it's so great when that happens. And it just happened for me, in the form of Meghan Daum's new essay collection The Unspeakable.

UnspeakableDaum's first collection of essays, My Misspent Youth, is one of my favorite essay collections of all time, so when I first saw that she had a new collection coming out, I immediately went to place a hold on it in my library system, and was totally dismayed when I didn't find it there. I waited for weeks until finally, FINALLY, a library purchased it and I could get it.

And, oh man, she's so good: "At its core, this book is about the ways that some of life's most burning issues are considered inappropriate for public or even private discussion. It's about the unspeakable thoughts many of us harbor--that we might not love our parents enough, that 'life's pleasures' sometimes feel more like chores--but can only talk about in coded terms, if at all. It's about the unspeakable acts that teach no easy lessons and therefore are often elbowed out of sight. In some places, the book is about literally not being able to speak. It's about what happens when words fail in the truest sense." (pp. 5-6.)

Let's just say it's one of my cherished dreams that when we met other people, we could tell them our names and then a short sampling of our medical problems and how we deal with them (also "unspeakable")*, so this is a woman after my own heart.

Her topics range widely, from watching her mother die, to her love for dogs, from the generational divide between Gen Xers and Millennials to a diary of the time she spent in a medically induced coma. It's good stuff, and it's a good quick read too, so have at it.

*Really. Think about discussions you've had with people about ailments you share. Don't you usually learn more in conversation than you do at any number of doctor office visits?