2 Books I’d Make My Teenage Children Read

by joanabagano

Every Thursday, I will be recommending two books. It’s a short, curated list for everyone but I will pretend to write for my future kids.

TM - B

1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Dear daughter,

In the course of your life, you will witness several sacrifices your mother would have to make. Most of these sacrifices may look irrational at first glance. I’m pretty sure there will be days when it looks like I am sacrificing you, my children, for other things that are bargaining for my attention. However, I want you to know this and know this well, my child: For almost a year, your heart was closest to mine than any other heart in the world. In fact, in those days, life flowed from me to you and back. Sethe in the story committed the unthinkable when faced with the idea of losing her children forever. The story is more complex than I could explain and Sethe suffered a lot of things I am sure I would never experience. I do not know the circumstances in which I will have you, but I will fight for you as Sethe fought for her children.

Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.

‘Today is always here,’ said Sethe. ‘Tomorrow, never.’

“Everything depends on knowing how much,” she said, and “Good is knowing when to stop.”


2. The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien

Dear child,

There is nothing enjoyable about a war, nothing laughable about a struggle. We cannot glorify violence and will probably choose not to when given the chance, but it is inevitable for human nature to find a little piece of redemption even in the most cold and miserable parts of life. I have forged beautiful friendships with the people I have undergone pain and hardship with and I am sure you will find yourself experiencing the same. We are, all of us, soldiers in our own battles. My prayer for you is to find companionship in the muck and in the dry land and in facing the canyons by day and the demons by night. Share life with these human beings in the form of love letters, family portraits, Bibles and if need be, toothbrushes.

They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

He wished he could’ve explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.

And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.