Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer
Author: Heather Lende
Publisher: Algonquin Books
As the obituary writer in a spectacularly beautiful but often dangerous spit of land in Alaska, Heather Lende knows something about last words and lives well lived. Now she’s distilled what she’s learned about how to live a more exhilarating and meaningful life into three words: find the good. It’s that simple--and that hard. Quirky and profound, individual and universal, Find the Good offers up short chapters that help us unlearn the habit--and it is a habit--of seeing only the negatives. Lende reminds us that we can choose to see any event--starting a new job or being laid off from an old one, getting married or getting divorced--as an opportunity to find the good. As she says, “We are all writing our own obituary every day by how we live. The best news is that there’s still time for additions and revisions before it goes to press.” Ever since Algonquin published her first book, the New York Times bestseller If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, Heather Lende has been praised for her storytelling talent and her plainspoken wisdom. The Los Angeles Times called her “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott,” and that comparison has never been more apt as she gives us a fresh, positive perspective from which to view our relationships, our obligations, our priorities, our community, and our world. An antidote to the cynicism and self-centeredness that we are bombarded with every day in the news, in our politics, and even at times in ourselves, Find the Good helps us rediscover what’s right with the world. “Heather Lende’s small town is populated with big hearts--she finds them on the beach, walking her granddaughters, in the stories of ordinary peoples’ lives, and knits them into unforgettable tales. Find the Good is a treasure.” —Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Owen’s Daughter “Find the Good is excellent company in unsteady times . . . Heather Lende is the kind of person you want to sit across the kitchen table from on a rainy afternoon with a bottomless cup of tea. When things go wrong, when things go right, her quiet, commonsense wisdom, self-examining frankness, and good-natured humor offer a chance to reset, renew, rebalance.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted “With gentle humor and empathy [Lende] introduces a number of people who provide examples of how to live well . . . [Find the Good] is simple yet profound.” —Booklist “In this cynical world, Find the Good is a tonic, a literary wellspring, which will continue to run, and nurture, even in times of drought. What a brave and beautiful thing Heather Lende has made with this book.” —John Straley, Shamus Award winner and former writer laureate of Alaska “Heather Lende is a terrific writer and terrific company: intimate, authentic, and as quirky as any of her subjects.” —Marilyn Johnson, author of The Dead Beat
In the spirit of Gretchen Rubin’s megaseller The Happiness Project and Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss, a journalist embarks on a project to discover what it takes to love where you live The average restless American will move 11.7 times in a lifetime. For Melody Warnick, it was move #6, from Austin, Texas, to Blacksburg, Virginia, that threatened to unhinge her. In the lonely aftermath of unpacking, she wondered: Aren’t we supposed to put down roots at some point? How does the place we live become the place we want to stay? This time, she had an epiphany. Rather than hold her breath and hope this new town would be her family’s perfect fit, she would figure out how to fall in love with it—no matter what. How we come to feel at home in our towns and cities is what Warnick sets out to discover in This Is Where You Belong. She dives into the body of research around place attachment—the deep sense of connection that binds some of us to our cities and increases our physical and emotional well-being—then travels to towns across America to see it in action. Inspired by a growing movement of placemaking, she examines what its practitioners are doing to create likeable locales. She also speaks with frequent movers and loyal stayers around the country to learn what draws highly mobile Americans to a new city, and what makes us stay. The best ideas she imports to her adopted hometown of Blacksburg for a series of Love Where You Live experiments designed to make her feel more locally connected. Dining with her neighbors. Shopping Small Business Saturday. Marching in the town Christmas parade. Can these efforts make a halfhearted resident happier? Will Blacksburg be the place she finally stays? What Warnick learns will inspire you to embrace your own community—and perhaps discover that the place where you live right now . . . is home. From the Hardcover edition.
Like Tuesdays with Morrie, in which Mitch Albom gleans wisdom from his mentor, Finding the Good is the story of Fred Montgomery and his influence on Lucas Johnson, a young reporter who learns of the transforming power of faith and love. Here is a powerful story of a 20th century slave who rose to the rank of mayor and the young man whose life he touched. Fred Montgomery, the son of sharecroppers in west Tennessee, and boyhood friend of Alex Haley, grew up in poverty, but had a faith and confidence instilled in him by his parents. Always at the mercy of white people, Fred worked hard and acquired his own farm in spite of opposition from his white neighbors. After losing two of his sons in separate drowning accidents, Fred tried twice to commit suicide. Bitter from years of frustration brought upon him by whites, Fred's attitude was changed by the sympathy and love shown to him by his neighbors, white and black alike. In 1988 he proved that faith and love can prevail by becoming the first black mayor of the once strongly segregated Henning, Tennessee. While telling this story, the author shows glimpses of his own life, in which many of his relatives, including his own father, succumbed to the lure of alcohol and drugs. Lucas Johnson lost all hope. He had no faith; he had no love. "Years have passed," he concludes," since I first met Fred Montgomery. . . . I'm a better person because of him. His life . . . gave me a credible blueprint on how to deal with life's problems and even grow stronger from them."