What We’re Reading Now:

Sam Babiak, Program Director / Member Services Director

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Penguin Books
September 25, 2014

Mary Karr said, “Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.” This is true for all memories, but if you’re writing about traumatic events you’ve experienced, these memories work differently and will likely be much more difficult to write about. The Body Keeps the Score breaks down the way that trauma affects our bodies and minds and the ways that traumatic memories differ from other kinds of memories. For a memoirist writing about trauma, this is a must read. Untangling these memories and understanding their impact is an essential step in writing memoir, and although reading this book is by no means a substitute for therapy, it is an incredible companion to have on this journey. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I first heard of this book in November 2019 at our Texas Writes in ATX event. The wonderful memoirist Rachel Starnes gave a presentation on memory in memoir and recommended that anyone writing about trauma should read this book. Then a few weeks ago, this book was recommended again. This time, by Jessica Wilbanks in her Memoir 101 class. This book keeps popping up for a reason and although it was published in 2014, the human experience, our minds and bodies after trauma, the core of writing memoir, that is all timeless and that’s why I’m recommending The Body Keeps the Score once again.


Evan Parks, Project Specialist

Rules for Being Dead by Kim Powers
Blair Publishing
May 12, 2020
Almost immediately in Rules for Being Dead, Powers roots the reader into the setting and narrative. In it we follow Clarke, a third-grader, as he struggles with his mother’s death during the ’60s. That’s a fairly standard plot, however Clarke’s perspective is followed up with the perspective of his mother’s spirit as she watches over him, and the rest of the small Texas town where they reside. There’s a mystery surrounding her death, and it’s one that haunts everyone. This book is drenched with the ghosts of movies at the drive-in, familial drama, and heartache.

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