The Rent Collector, about this family, recreating much of the truth from the documentary but imagining how their lives might change if Sang Ly, the wife and mother, was able to learn how to read. In the novel, she spends hours with a tutor - a one-time enemy who turns out to be a friend - learning to read and how to interpret and appreciate literature. It's a captivating, moving book about life, hope, and the power of books that I highly recommend.
Here are just a few of my many favorite quotes from the novel:
"Life will not always be so hard or so cruel. Our difficulties are but a moment."This is a Buddhist concept echoed by Sang Ly's grandfather when she is young. Many of the truths of Buddhism resonate with me, with respect to living with chronic illness. When I was first diagnosed, kind notes poured in from my friends, but the one that struck me most and moved me to tears was from an old colleague and close friend who'd had ME/CFS himself for a year during college. He just simply said, "This too shall pass," which made me burst into tears and was very comforting. And he was right. Yes, the illness is still here, 17 years later, but with treatments and lots of emotional coping and adjustment, I have found my new normal. That acute time of such terrible emotional pain did, indeed, pass.
"When you find your purpose - and you will find your purpose - never let go. Peace is a product of both patience and persistence."These two quotes especially struck me because I often counsel others in patience and persistence! I usually say that in terms of finding just the right treatments for each person, but I love this sentiment about finding purpose and peace as well.
"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble."
"...the desire to believe, to look forward to better days, to want them, to expect them - it seems to be explained in our being. Whether we like it or not, hope is written so deeply into our hearts that we just can't help ourselves, no matter how hard we try otherwise."Here, Sang Ly's tutor is talking about hope as a theme in literature, and how that applies to real life, as well. I love this quote because I believe strongly in hope and its power. Early on in my illness, I read The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman, and it had a tremendous impact on me. In fact, I gave my dad a copy of it when he was diagnosed with cancer, and it helped him, too, transforming his normally pessimistic attitude to one of hope, which helped him to not only endure but enjoy his last year of life. Hope is a powerful thing.
Those are just a sampling of the many beautiful passages in this inspiring and compelling novel. My book group also watched the original documentary just this past week and enjoyed that, too.
What books or quotes have you found inspirational?