First of all, I want to thank all of you for your supportive comments regarding the death of my dad. Your comments helped me so much, and I really appreciate them more than you will ever know. Our visit to Montana was very healing, and my dad’s memorial service was a beautiful thing that helped our family begin the grieving and healing process on a positive way. It was so touching and comforting to hear from so many people about how my dad had touched their lives. One common refrain was “Your dad never wasted any time.” That is so true … and I think it is a lesson that we can all benefit from. Fill your days with things that interest you, love the people you are with, and never miss an opportunity to pursue your dreams.
As I was thinking of a way to honor my dad, one thing that occurred to me was to read some books in his honor. I picked 12 to start with, and I think that reading these books are a wonderful and meaningful way to both honor my dad and maintain a connection with him. I know he would have LOVED this idea!
Here are the books that I’m choosing to read and why I chose them.
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. This was a book my dad gave me to read when I was about 12 and I just loved it. (Although I suspect I missed a lot of the nuances — I just thought the names were hilarious — Major Major Major Major, Milo Minderbender — and I loved the whole Catch-22 concept.) When my mom told us to look through Dad’s bookshelves to look for anything we might want as a remembrance, I found three copies of the book! So this is must read.
- The Once and Future King by T.H. White. I mentioned several times about how my dad and I read this book out loud when I was a young girl so I’m going to revisit this book to recapture some of those moments. Plus, my dad was a huge fan of King Arthur books — reading everything from Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon.
- Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? by John R. Powers. This is another book that my dad introduced me too. He loved it because he related to the story of growing up Catholic in the early 1960s. Revisiting this book is a way to revisit my dad’s formative years, which were filled with nuns and pranks.
- Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. Once when I was having a tough time in college, my dad wrote to me and recommended this book. (Only my dad would recommend a 970-page books about a Samurai warrior to a college sophomore as a way to get through a tough time.) He’s tried to get me to read this for years, and I never did. I’ve asked my mom if I could have the copy of the book that he searched for in used books stores for years, and she should be sending it soon. (My dad was very into things Japanese as he served in the Navy for three years when I was a baby and was stationed in Japan. I spent the first few years of my life in Japan — which accounts for why I have problems saying my “Rs” to this day.) COMPLETED
- Knights of the Black and White by Jack Whyte. About a year ago, my dad sent me a box of books that I had asked him for as I didn’t want to buy a copy when I knew he had them and had read them already. Mixed in with the books I’d asked for where copies of these Knights Templar books (of which this book is the first). Every few months, my dad would ask me if I had read the books yet, and I hadn’t. (They are hard copies and weigh about 3 pounds each … plus I hadn’t requested them!) But darn it, you wanted me to read them Dad so I will!
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. This was one of the books in the box that I had asked for. It was one of those books that I kept seeing around everywhere, and I knew my parents had it so I asked them if I could borrow their copy. Then, my mom and dad saw Greg Mortenson speak at the local library and were inspired to donate $600 (!!!!!!!!!!) to Mr. Mortenson’s cause. This type of donation is unheard of in my family so obviously I need to read this book. Plus, my dad kept promising me he was going to write me an article for this blog about Mr. Mortenson’s talk.
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Right before he died, my dad was reading a bunch of classic books that he either hadn’t read at all or hadn’t read in a long time. This was one he was raving about and told me it was a “must read.”
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This is another book that my dad quoted to me over and over again and that I always promised him I would read someday. It is also a nod to his Russian heritage, which he found so interesting and engrossing. (Both of his grandfathers were stowaways who left Russia to escape the Revolution.) COMPLETED
- Fool’s Crow by James Welch. My dad had a long-term love for the state of Montana. He had visited in his 20s and fell in love, and our whole family moved out there from New Jersey when I was in high school. I asked my brother Chris for a book I should read about Montana that my dad loved and this was one of his three suggestions.
- Grizzly Years by Doug Peacock. My dad LOVED grizzly bears. Any time he spotted a “griz” on one of his expeditions into the Montana wilderness was a happy happy day. He had quite a collection of books on grizzly bears, and I asked my brother Chris for what I should read on this topic. This book was him immediate answer.
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. As I mentioned earlier, my dad had a love for things Japanese, including Zen Buddhism. He was very interested in Eastern religions and when I took a World Religion course in college and became fascinated by The Upanishads, he was there to talk to me about some of his favorite books on Eastern religions. This was one of them, and I think it is a good place for me to start exploring.
- Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow by Maria Coffey. I was always bothering my dad to read my book blog, and he did. The only comment he ever left me was a book recommendation in my book category on real life survival books (a genre of books I enjoy reading thanks to him). I immediately remembered this book after he died as it is a book about the personal costs of adventure — with a focus on mountain climbers. As my dad died due to a mountain climbing accident, this book is no longer a “might read someday.” It is a book that I must read. He read it and told me to read it — obviously not knowing the personal meaning and impact it would have for me and our family. It gives me the shivers that he told me about this book and then died while mountain climbing. I hope to gain some perspective on why he climbed and insight into some of the feelings I have about his accident. When I was out in Montana, my brother Chris gave me my dad’s copy of this book. I shall read it in his honor — as I do all of these books. COMPLETED