Loung Ung Memoir series

September 23, 2012

When I am looking for Memoir books to read, I often scan the latest memoir books for something that speaks to me.  I came across Loung Ung’s book Lulu in the Sky (book 3) and later read First They Killed My Father (book 1) and Lucky Child (book 2).  I appreciate her writing a series of books, because I seek to understand how people make it through difficult circumstances and how it impacts them later.  Often a book will share feelings not always shared when talking to people one on one.  The beauty of writing is that it can capture the heart of our story and the intense emotions and thoughts that exist within us.

Loung Ung’s books share about her horrible experience in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge and her travels to America.  Loung and her family had to leave their home because her father’s work in the government threatened their security.  They led secret lives, hiding their status and moved around frequently. They often had little food and lived in fear of dying and losing loved ones.  Loung encountered extensive trauma and challenging circumstances, even being trained as a child soldier.  As I read about the deep pain she encounters, I am all the more drawn to her spirit and the struggles within.  Her two later books, continue her story and her relocation to America.  Unfortunately the struggles don’t end, as she adapts to a new culture and the losses of leaving loved ones behind.  The last book shares about finding and receiving love and working through her traumatic experiences.  Though an extremely difficult read at times, it truly is a story that needs to be shared.

I could relate to the humanity of Loung. Her struggles to make relationships work, to deal with things she wished she didn’t have to experience, and her desire to make a difference out of the darkness.  I can’t say I have the ability to fully understand the impact of such trauma which can make it easier for me to ignore the realities of war all around us.  Reading memoirs is a way for me to be educated about what is going on (past and present) in different parts of the world and to find a way to make a difference in spite of my fibromyalgia and other limitations.  My day-to-day life has been enriched by her books, my ability to see what matters in life, how the small and big things do matter, and how much my life is enriched by people of other cultures and experiences.  It makes me aspire to work through my own challenges and being willing to look honestly at things I would rather not face. I am thankful Loung was willing to share her story with us – it won’t be forgotten.


Wisdom Under the Bridge book recommendation

July 21, 2012

I just finished reading the book Wisdom Under The Bridge: The Prophets From Skid Row by Linda Ross Swanson.  I really enjoyed hearing the wisdom from people who have struggled with homelessness and the many people who have teamed up with them.  Linda does a great job of sharing the wisdom of everyone’s story and allowing us to learn from their experiences.  As a reader I found value in recognizing our common struggles as well as our common hope.  It is a book that many could benefit from, both in learning more about ourselves and in helping others in their challenges.  Being an Oregonian, I found it really interesting to learn more about our city and the resources we provide (or don’t provide) to help those who are living on the streets.  Sometimes what we believe is a solution to a problem, isn’t always the right chapter to healing.  Our best practices must always include a degree of understanding, compassion and respect for the people we want to partner with.


Recommended Memoir: A Chance in the World

July 8, 2012

I just finished reading A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton.  What an incredible inspiring book about perseverance and strength.  The story is about the life of a man who was abandoned, neglected, and abused but found a way to make something of his life.  He was willing to look directly into the past, regardless of the disappointments it brings in order to learn about himself and his journey.  He seeks the truth and an ability to accept the reality of what is his as well as recognizing what shouldn’t be.  He speaks with honesty, humility and great insights, and is able to find gratitude in the many people who made a difference along the way.


Reading Memoirs

July 7, 2012

I have found a great sense of comfort and wisdom from reading memoirs.  I love hearing people’s stories and how their lives unfold.  I can see a glimpse of how people live in various time periods, cultures and circumstances.  I have the privilege of entering into the minds, thoughts and emotions of other people and to expand my own world.

I began reading memoirs in order to make more sense out of my own life.   When working through my own challenges, including health problems and family issues, I found that I didn’t always have the skills in order to sort through it.  As I started to read other people’s stories, I began to feel less alone, laughed more, and had more hope.  I realized that most successful people have gone through numerous challenges and failures, but continued to move forward in spite of it.  I could enter people’s stories, and like an AA meeting, could take what I want and leave the rest.  A story allows me to listen, absorb, change and challenge my own thinking.

For the past five years or so I have been logging some of my favorite memoirs.  Many of these are memoirs of mental and physical recovery, relief organizations, famous people, war, history, and people from all over the world.  I will begin sharing this list in a new section called Reading.  I hope you will be inspired as much as I have.

Elissa


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