I have a small library of books that I have bought because they are part of a collection (Christmas books, pop-up books, books about the south, books about books) or because I saw them at a book festival and had heard the author speak, or because I might run out of something to read (not likely, since I usually have a dozen or so library books checked out at any one time).
There are a few that simply spoke to me — about women, family, friends, home — and I knew that I would want to read and probably reread. Sometimes, these books get shifted to the bottom of the stack or left on the shelf because the library books are due, and I simply forget about them. Often they are books of essays or anthologies and, once I do get around to reading them, I find myself enthralled with the treasures they hold.
Sharing the Journey: Women Reflecting on Life’s Passages, edited by Katherine Ball Ross, is such a book. The 68 essays within are in sections such as Childhood, Motherhood, Grandmothers, Sisters, Places of the Heart, Rituals, The Past, Writing and Writers, and “The Quiet Center of One’s Life” and are by some of my favorite authors, including Jane Smiley (“Horse Love”, “Jane Austen’s Heroines”, and “Giving Love a Melody, Memory a Tune”), Whitney Otto (“Collecting Grandmothers”), Madeleine L’Engle (“A Crosswicks Kind of Christmas” and “Too Obvious to Forget”), Carol Shields (“Parties Real and Otherwise”), and Diane Ackerman (“The Deer in Springtime”).
Here I found essays that spoke to me personally, such as Susan J. Gordon’s “May Your Life Be One Sweet Song”, about her grandmother’s girlhood autograph book; M.J. Andersen’s “At Grandmother’s Table”, about her grandmother’s love of and lifelong accumulation of dishes; Susan Minot’s “Messengers of the Heart”, about the importance of letters in her life and “Reflecting on Foot”, about the pleasures of walking; Catherine Calvert’s “Wrapping Up a Memory”, about Christmas gifts; Patricia O’Toole’s “Passport to the Universe”, about libraries; and Susan Allen Toth’s “Hiding Out,” about the importance of finding private spaces to nuture imagination and spirit.
I found this book so engaging that I want to buy several copies to give away. I also discovered an additional bonus between its pages. Reading these essays helped me recall numerous people, places and incidents from my own life which could later be subjects for my own writing.