Reading to Cope with Tragedy
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As we remember the tragic events of October 27, 2018, we recognize that grieving and healing are on ongoing process. We’re sharing again the recommendations we offered at the time.


When faced with tragedy, many readers will turn to books to find solace in sound thinking and good writing about difficult topics. The following are titles that some of our librarians think might be useful in coping with this loss and with reflecting on and understanding Jewish thinking on grief and finding strength in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

 

Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times

Publisher’s weekly noted that with this book Terkel, who was famous for his oral histories, “focuses here on hope as the universal detritus of experience.” For this book, Terkel shares the wisdom of a range of people who have found hope in the face of daunting social challenges.

Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting Parkland, Florida, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized a national movement to rally young people to put an end to school shootings. With these books, these young people assert their vision for how we can change our society to prevent further violence.

#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting Parkland, Florida, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized a national movement to rally young people to put an end to school shootings. With these books, these young people assert their vision for how we can change our society to prevent further violence.

My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Remen, a physician and bestselling author, reflects on lessons she learned from her grandfather, a rabbi who taught her the value of service to heal loneliness and pain. Remen shows us the importance of taking care of one another, a need which is at the heart of her work with terminally ill patients.

Night

Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.

On Grief and Grieving

Heather Butts wrote in a review this posthumous book that psychiatrist Kubler-Ross “contributed immensely to the public’s understanding of how we die, how we prepare ourselves for death but, ultimately, how we live.” This book weaves together theory and practical advice to help people understand how they move through stages of grief.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, was an early innovator in teaching people to practice “mindfulness” as a way of dealing with stress, pain, and adversity. This practical guide provides a primer that could help just about anyone find a much-needed dose of peace and restfulness.

Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence

In the aftermath of the 2015 murder of nine Charleston church members by a white supremacist, Professors Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain started sharing links to scholarly and historical resources on Twitter using the hashtag #charlestonsyllabus. These readings, which provide a context for understanding the history of bigotry that led to the shooting, are gathered in this volume, along with additional essays and discussion questions.

Consolation: The Spiritual Journey Beyond Grief

In this, his sequel to the best-selling The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, Rabbi Lamm helps mourners not just get through their grief, but also grow through it. He gently steers mourners on the path that allows their sorrow to teach them important lessons about life.

Kaddish: Women's Voices

Winner of: 2013 National Jewish Book Award For centuries, Jews have turned to the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer upon experiencing a loss. This groundbreaking book explores what the recitation of Kaddish has meant specifically to women.

Modern Loss: Candid Conversations About Grief: Beginners Welcome

Inspired by the website that the New York Times hailed as “redefining mourning,” this book is a fresh and irreverent examination into navigating grief and resilience in the age of social media, offering comfort and community for coping with the mess of loss through candid original essays from a variety of voices, accompanied by gorgeous two-color illustrations and wry infographics.

Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing

From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and up to 20% of us will develop post-traumatic stress. This means that anywhere mindfulness is being practiced, someone in the room is likely to be struggling with trauma.