In The Wake of Boston: Comfort in Storytelling
This has been a trying week for America. A series of terrible and bewildering events have pained and tested a nation and, television news media withstanding, we seem to have responded mostly with grace. Though this is a time of confusion, I think it is also a time that we need to be reminded of the impressive and inspiring nature of human resilience. And, in my estimation, the best way to do that is by harnessing the power of storytelling. In the wake of a tragedy like the one we witnessed in Boston (not to mention the unbelievable fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas), we as a country, a people and members of a global community where such events occur on a devastatingly regular basis need comfort. Here are the stories I turn to when I need to be reassured of the human spirit:The Harry Potter series: This series transports me to my childhood and adolescence, when J.K. Rowling made me believe in a magical world where love could conquer evil. Love is magic.
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats: Set in Burma, originally written in German, Jan-Phillip Sendker's epic love story is such a perfect picture of patience and commitment it is practically unbelievable. As I wrote last year, "Love like this may not exist in our world, but we might be better off if it did."
Let The Great World Spin: While the world is crazy, while it moves chaotically and without regard to any of us, we are not alone. Colum McCann says we are all connected, whether we know it or not. "The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough." I loved this book.
For me, comforting stories are those about people triumphing over personal obstacles—outright feel goods don't really do it for me. Also, as I was making this list, I realized I couldn't think of any classics that make me feel that way. I'd love to know: What books or stories do you turn to for comfort? Please share some of your favorites in the comments.
For the people of Boston and of West, Texas, the nightmare is far from over. It may seem like there's not much we can do, but let's at least pledge to take care of each other.