book cover for There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange

Summer Reading No.5: Carmen Toussaint

Pitts’ Summer Reading Recommendations continue this week with Candler’s Contextual Education Senior Program Coordinator, Carmen Toussaint! Carmen recounts “my eight years with the Contextual Education at Candler have brought me great joy in helping students during their MDiv journey.” However, after her first five years in the position, Carmen took a six-year sabbatical to fulfill a lifelong dream: to create and direct a Writer’s Residency. Carmen explains “My delight in meeting writers from all genres and backgrounds brought my love of reading to a whole new perspective.”

Carmen’s first recommendation is author Tommy Orange’s first novel, There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018). The story follows twelve characters from native communities, a chorus of voices that tells of the plight of the urban Native American. Characters grapple with a complex and painful history, an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, communion, sacrifice, and heroism. As the book jacket says, Carmen admits that she can’t say it better than the book jacket: “Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force.” Find this novel at Emory in print, as an audiobook, or at your local library!

A memoir that Carmen recommends is Deep Creek: Finding Hope in The High Country by Pam Houston (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019). As summed up in the author’s own words, “How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us.” Carmen reflects that “Pam’s rich story of connecting to a piece of land is written to help us understand the value of this search and how we can live through a world that can bring overwhelming obstacles. If you want to take a journey in the high country this summer, take time to read this book.” Deep Creek is available at Emory Libraries or at your local library.

Shifting gears, Carmen introduces us to a blog by Mary Laura Philpott. Mary Laura Philpott is the author of the new memoir Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (April 2022), deemed “masterwork” by the New York Times and a “beautifully wrought ode to life” by the Washington Post. She is also the author of the national bestseller I Miss You When I Blink, named one of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019 and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her essays examining the overlap of the absurd and the profound in everyday life have been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and many other publications. Additionally, Mary Laura is a former bookseller and was an Emmy-winning co-host of A Word on Words, the literary interview program on Nashville Public Television. Keep up with new publications, event opportunities, and more on this blog!

Carmen’s final recommendation to connect the mind and body as you take a walk along the shoreline or mountain path is the Rubin Museum’s Mindfulness Meditation Podcast. Led by a prominent medication teacher, this podcast includes an opening talk and a 20-minute meditation session for beginners and skilled participants alike. Check it out at rubinmuseum.org/events/series/mindfulness-meditation!

Join us next week to hear more recommendations from a Pitts Librarian!

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