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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 61/100: When Women Were Birds - 54 Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice - Terry Tempest Williams

Around the World Reading Challenge Item #14: A Book with One of the Five Ws or H in the Title

This is one of those books that is hard to review.

It's an "unconventional memoir," a collection of short reflections and memories that are instigated by Williams' mother bequeathing her journals to her before she dies. When Williams opens the journals, she finds nothing but blank pages.

I liked to imagine that Williams filled those journals with the thoughts that became this book, but that is never explicitly stated.

At first, the vignettes seem a little random and unrelated. Then themes begin to emerge tying them together -- the idea of what it means for women to have a voice and to find a voice, stories involving birds, reflections on storytelling. I wanted the book to be more about Williams' mother; although she keeps returning to the empty journals in her attempt to make meaning out of them, the mystery is never quite solved. And that is unsettling -- perhaps as it should be.

The writing is almost uniformly gorgeous. There were passages here and there where I drifted off, but there were more that I wanted to read again and again.