Books make connections

I want to give you a small example of how books give us the ability to connect with each other.

The essays in They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us have stayed with me. I know I've already shared that recommendation with you, but truly, I can't stop thinking about the way Hanif Abdurraqib wove personal stories and cultural criticism around music. You know how you can hear a song and be transported to a specific time and place? Abdurraqib's essays do that even when I don't know the song. Reading his book is like time traveling through his memories. In my booklogged state, I've been going and listening to these songs — to Migos and Fall Out Boy and old school rap — and an unexpected and delightful thing has happened: My son thinks I'm cool.

OK. Maybe that's reaching a little. But for the first time in a long time, my oldest son and I found ourselves listening to the same music by choice — not just tolerating or passively listening to be kind to the other person, but really listening because we want to, because we like it, because we think the music has something to say. And thanks to Abdurraqib's essays and the rabbit hole of reading I fell into to find out more about the artists and music, I could give my kid context and background he wasn't finding on Apple Music. I provided value to my preteen, which I figure can't hurt our relationship as we head into the teen years. 

After reading White Houses, Amy Bloom's fictionalized account of Lorena Hickok's relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, I picked up a nonfiction book called What She Ate solely because it included a section on Eleanor Roosevelt and reveled when The Millions put out a piece on Hickok's oral histories of the Great Depression. After picking up The House of Impossible Beauties, I paused my reading to research the House of Xtravaganza. (Without it, Madonna never would have shown us how to vogue.) After hearing Pachinko author Min Jin Lee sing the praises of 18th century literature the other night at the Mercantile, I find myself wanting to reread George Eliot. (Her favorite book is Middlemarch.) I often find myself chasing new ideas or interests thanks to books and authors, and I've never regretted the time spent. But this particular chase, the one that led to a shared experience with my son, was exceptionally satisfying.

Where are books taking you? What connections are they making?