How Reading “Lincoln in the Bardo” Helped Me to Love Doing our Dishes

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Wow.  Our book club chose to read Lincoln in the Bardo last month.  I’m so glad that my brilliant friend Kath clued us in to this one.  George Saunders has written an incredibly, incredibly beautiful story of familial love and loss that you will not forget.

Vogue magazine says that Mr. Saunders is well on his way to becoming our generation’s Mark Twain. 

Bill Gates was excited to discuss his thoughts on the book when he finished. 

“Only then (nearly out the door, so to speak) did I realize how unspeakably beautiful all of this was, how precisely engineered for our pleasure, and saw that I was on the brink of squandering a wondrous gift, the gift of being allowed, every day, to wander this vast sensual paradise, this grand marketplace lovingly stocked with every sublime thing…” – George Saunders

I say to set aside some special time and space to take your time with this one.  Not just because of the focus it will take you to follow the over a hundred different characters in this book, but because it’s emotionally taxing and you might not want to ugly cry on your train ride into work.  Be prepared with a big ol’ box of soft Kleenex nearby you, especially if you are hormonal like I was when I read it.  As a new mother I couldn’t help but to put myself in the place of President Lincoln as he stared at his sweet little boy in that ‘sick box’. 

If you are a parent reading this novel the book may give you an “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment when you come to the end.  Instead of running through the dark, snowy streets of your town hollering: “Clarence! Clarence! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! I want to live again.”  You may burst into your mother in law’s house and scoop up your sweet baby and your slightly older, just as sweet ‘baby’ and smother them in kisses like they are the most precious things you’ve ever had the honor to hold in your whole life. Because, while kids can suck the energy and life right out of you they also bring such incredible joy to us that to imagine even for one second the devastation not having them anymore would bring to your soul. Or you getting stuck in your own “sick box for that matter.  Ohohohoh it’s just too much.

As you finish the book you may be like me and be in such an emotional stupor you might have to crawl into bed and take a little nap to stave off exhaustion before you can get back to your daily tasks.

“One feels such love for the little ones, such anticipation that all that is lovely in life will be known by them, such fondness for that set of attributes manifested uniquely in each: mannerisms of bravado, of vulnerability, habits of speech and mispronouncement and so forth; the smell of the hair and head, the feel of the tiny hand in yours—and then the little one is gone! Taken! One is thunderstruck that such a brutal violation has occurred in what had previously seemed a benevolent world.” – George Saunders

After reading Bardo as I am cleaning up the dining room, sweeping up crumbs from the floor, and washing the dishes I’m in a trance as my mind is overtaken with the words thank you, thank you *thank you* for these babes to cook and care for today and every day. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! God, what a blessing it is to have dishes to do today, to have my sweet family to clean up after.

I heard the book is a wonderful read. I didn’t “read” the book.  It was read *to* me.  Read by some incredible talents.  Nick Offerman and the cast of Bill Hader, Rainn Wilson, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Keegan-Michael Key (who is especially captivating) and the rest produced the inning audiobook of the year with Bardo.  What a luxury listening to books on audio has been!! 

I tried out Audible when I went back to work and wanted to read while pumping in the lactation room.  I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook.  Just don’t listen to it while driving home the Ben Stiller at the end of “There’s Something About Mary” crying may make it dangerous to drive.

I love you M.  I love you W.  Love, Your mommy

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Clare

Bringing love, fun, beauty, and kindness into the world from San Luis Obispo County

Reader Comments

    • admin

      Jade! My dear, you are the first person that I don’t know to take the time to read and comment on one of my posts. Seeing you write me has made me giggle out loud. Thanks so much! Anyways, I do listen to books on my commute. I especially like female humorists like Tina Fey and Tifanny Haddish. I hope you have a happy day! 🙂

    • admin

      Denise, thanks for writing me! It kept popping up in my recommendations feed in Audible and Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t read books much at all, but with my commute, pumping bottles for my daughter, and walking my dog I listen to quite a few now! I am loooving them. Take care. 🙂 xx

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