Good Books to Read: A Serendipitous Encounter with Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt March 17, 2014 00:00
In honor of St. Patrick's Day and all things Irish, I dedicate this post to Irish author Frank McCourt who succumbed to metastatic melanoma cancer in 2009. His Pulitzer prize winning book Angela’s Ashes, holds a special place on my list of good books to read.
My husband and I were leaving a local restaurant after a late dinner together. As we approached our car in the dark parking lot, I noticed a book on the pavement. Now I am not typically inclined to pick up random objects in parking lots, but the bibliophile in me insisted I take a closer look.
Unfamiliar with the title, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, I looked around to see if there was anyone in the parking lot who may have dropped the book, but saw no one. The front cover revealed a hastily scrawled inscription: “Read this book. It will change your life.”
Whoa! Reading this book will change your life? I certainly believe that good books absolutely have the power to change and inspire, but I am instantly wary of anything that claims to “change your life.”
Once more, I looked around to try and find this book’s rightful owner but no one presented themselves in the almost vacant dark parking lot. So Angela’s Ashes came home with us that night and graced my nightstand for quite some time.
Angela’s Ashes is the childhood memoir of Frank McCourt and his Irish immigrant family. McCourt leaves no details to the imagination in describing the struggles his family endured in the 1930’s and 1940’s as they faced extreme poverty, an alcoholic father and loss that no person should have to endure. In spite of these hardships, McCourt’s candid storytelling infuses hope and even humor into this story of endurance.
Now after almost 15 years after finding Angela’s Ashes in the parking lot, my mind still imagines different scenarios that may have led to my chance encounter with this book.
Maybe it had been shared between friends during a heart to heart conversation and then fell out of the recipient’s bag as he or she left the parking lot.
Perhaps the book was gifted by a well meaning friend hoping to share the inspiration and hope gleaned from this book, but the recipient was not receptive and callously tossed the book into the parking lot.
The scenario that I most like to entertain is that some tenderhearted soul left this book as a random act of kindness and I serendipitously became the delighted recipient. I never learned and will probably never know how Angela’s Ashes came to be in my path that night, but I am reminded that we can all “pay it forward” with the gifts and experiences we have both enjoyed and endured.
McCourt says, “Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale.”
How will you tell your tale today?