My Favorite Books of 2018


 

 

 

Educated, by Tara Westwood.  An engaging memoir of a home-schooled Mormon girl in rural Idaho, struggling with uncertainty, violence, and torn between family ties and rigid attitudes, and a bright future in college, inspired by gifted mentors.  This is a book about courage and determination and a life well-examined.

 

Becoming, by Michelle Obama.  Another book of inspiration, determination. She offers thoughtful insights into her own life as one of a first generation to go to college, devotion to family, and living in the whirlwind of national politics.  Whatever your politics, this journey is motivating and profound.

 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  What a wonderful journey about spirituality, science, community, and family connection!  Each chapter is a new insight, a new perspective on the world around us, the world we are so completely connected to.  I enjoyed it on so many levels.

 

Exit West, by Hamid Mohsin.  An engaging novel and fantasy about revolution, upheaval, refugees and immigration. This fast paced story digs into the humanity of current controversies over refugees and immigration, and change.

 

Art Matters, by Neil Gaiman.  This delightfully illustrated short book is a gem about creativity, writing, and the jewel of community libraries.

 

No god but God: the Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan. This is an engaging read exploring Islam and its complexity, destroying stereotypes and misconceptions and making for an entertaining and informative read.

 

The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.  This fast-paced romp through modern politics is a delight, offering occasional outbursts and humor by the former president on current affairs and thinking. It is very entertaining and captivating.

 

Brief Answers to the Big Questions, by Stephen Hawking.  His posthumous book that offers those not engrossed in quantum physics and other “on the edge” thinking some insights and explanations.  I found it engaging and insightful and worth my time.

 

The Tide: Science and the Stories Behind the Largest Force on Earth, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams. This scientist takes us on a welcoming journey into the world of tides, and how they shape our world. This is an interesting read on a subject that is a mystery to most of us.

 

The River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks.  This is a delightful collection of essays on a variety of topics, which are thought provoking and engaging.

Yuletide Poems


 

 

 

  1. Yule

 

Shortest day

Longest night

Solstice, Yule

Yule meaning “wheel”

It turns today, a sign of the light

To come

Lifting, shifting

Into the light

The hope of newer

Change for the brighter,

The better.

 

 

  1. Failure

 

“Failure is a feeling

Long before

It is an actual

Result.”                        (Becoming, Michelle Obama)

 

I’m not good enough

Until I decide it’s my fear

That is my limit

And not my destiny.

 

The light in my life

Is for me to decide

How bright it shines.

 

  1. Ambition

 

Leaf in a storm

Sailing over, beyond where I thought I’d be

Expectation of average

Blown away when I accept

The potential

Within me, the wind

Catching me

On its way through

Where I thought I’d end up

And I soar.

 

–Neal Lemery, 2018

Befriending


 

 

Kindness

Comes in so many forms, so many ways

A smile, a cup of tea,

Reaching out, giving a hand

Listening

Accepting.

 

Together

We honor ourselves and each other

Gifts to share, building community

Bonds, interactions, communion

Union, reciprocity

Strengthening, a weaving together

The whole greater than the parts.

 

Compassion

Understanding the Other, each other

By opening our own hearts

Being open, exchanging, offering

Receiving

Accepting

Enhancing

Uniting.

 

–Neal Lemery

11/29/2018

Becoming


 

 

Change

Comes with each moment

Each wave on the beach

Changes

The beach

The observer

Itself

Transforming all there is

In different ways

Renewing, reforming, recreating—

Over time, the difference obvious

A new reality, a new experience

And from that, comes change, again.

 

Change is in our nature – it is what we do,

Who we are, beings in motion

Observing, experiencing, adapting—

Becoming something new, an evolving

Seeking our light, becoming who we are meant to be

Meant to becoming, again and again.

 

Our destiny is in the moment, in the changing, in the becoming—

I am

Ever renewing, ever changing

Ever becoming.

 

—Neal Lemery, 10/7/2018

22


Celebrating 22, birthday man,
Anger’s ashes still cooling
The man he thought was dad, died when he was fifteen,
Real dad never around, never calling him son,
The kindly grandma he thought he had, now not really sure
She even knows he lives, but remembering
Her laugh, her soup after school.

We eat cake and tells stories, play guitar and laugh,
No one else in these chairs now
Behind this prison’s walls
He sings me his song.

5/31/13

Possibility


 

Just at the last bit of night,
all that you will become dawns on me–
I hear your voice and see your face in the new day’s light
and imagine you,
emerging into your now adult life.

You, somewhere else now, awaken and start
your day, fresh, strong, prepared finally —
new challenges, new tasks, a new way
of living free, self determined,
on your own.

No longer tied down to the old ways
free, now, to move ahead, making your own path
and finding your own future,
just like we had talked, just like we had both
dreamt, not that long ago.

I do not mourn our past, together, watching you
take those steps that have led to where you are now,
for I knew this day was coming, this is now your destiny.

You, now, all grown and strong, find your own way,
blossoming into who
you are meant to be, in all your strength and brilliance,
so clear to me, those possibilities, the first day I met you.

You hadn’t realized, then, what you could become,
what you will do,
this promising morning,
until you took a good look in the mirror
of your soul.

The tree in the front of the yard is about to bloom,
the metaphor for you, now, roots solid in the ground,
limbs reaching up to the sky, and blossoms
ready to open
to all that is good,
all this that has become
possible.

—- Neal Lemery, April 2013

The Curious Place


This is the third place for these books
I have known in this town,
where all are welcome, all are invited in
to explore, to savor
what the world can offer —
All I have to do is come here
and roam.

Quiet on their shelves, letting me discover
the worlds they offer all
who come here;
in the quiet
the embrace of what others have said
about the world, and about life.

Welcome, they murmur, and be curious —
we are always here, until you take us home
and get to really know us,
while you sip your tea, in a comfy chair,
going wherever we can take you.

Everyone comes here, everyone is welcome
to look around, to flip through pages, or maybe
something electronic, or something in pictures,
or music, or to just look at some art,
whatever I want, whatever I desire,
curiosity is the rule here, always curious.

My first grade class walked to the books one spring day
we, all hand in hand, came to look, to hear a story
as we sat on the carpet, going on a trip
by the sound of a voice, and pictures shown all around.

We left that day, each with a book, and each with a card,
the key to come back, again and again, and find another.

And, so, I did, time and again, and again, and again,

finding new treasures, and new things to learn,

and books and knowledge to help me write a paper for school,
and to find out more about what I wanted to know;
to go out in the world and find myself–
me, always hungry now for more, still more.


The books moved across the street, and stayed a long while,
until my hair started to turn gray, and then they moved again,
to still a better place, another block away,
a new place, built just for books and for this town
so more could come, and more could be welcomed here.


This third place is the best yet, a place even for kids
all their own, animals and trees and flowers, and
bright colors everywhere, inviting them in again, and
again.

I’m still a kid here, always wanting to skip up to the door
and wander in, seeing what is new, and what I might like
to take home and read by the fire, a cat on my lap,
a cup of tea, and the world mine to explore.

A big room now filled with people reading, thinking, writing a bit,
and reading some more, even people meeting in small rooms,
to talk, to focus on learning, and being in community
with each other, being stronger to be in the world.

Again, in this curious place,
another library day,
a spring in my step,
again for the first time.

Neal Lemery 3/23/2013.