Thanks for popping in for another installment of #FridayReads with Albert Whitman staffers. Chime in on our Twitter (@AlbertWhitman) and tell us what you’re reading this Friday. We’d love to know!
Today’s guest post is from our Editorial Director Kelly Barrales-Saylor:
Reading and editing children’s books as a career is definitely the coolest job I could have ever dreamed of. And having a toddler at home, I read more picture books than I ever thought possible. This is precisely why when I’m not reading The Little Blue Truck I gravitate toward adult nonfiction. My guilty pleasures are celebrity memoirs and big, glossy cookbooks.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I’d write about one of the memoir-ish books I’m reading right now that is full of nuggets of wisdom: What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey. Say what you will about Oprah and her empire, but growing up in Chicagoland, her show was a staple in my house. And in Chicago her show ran at 9am and 11pm so even before DVRs existed, I never missed an episode—probably saw at least a few minutes of every one from the first season until its finale.
Side story: Oprah and her various shows are a large part of my personal history. Just one example is when my dad was in the Oprah studio audience back in the late 1980s and a very young Jonathon Brandmeier was a guest as part of Oprah’s conversation with “outrageous disc jockeys.” Johnny B (as he was known) pointed to my very tall and burly biker dad sitting in the audience and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but the mass murderer show was last week.” The show was live! They showed my dad on TV! My dad laughed (he was a fan of Johnny’s) and waved him off. After the show, according to my dad, Johnny approached my dad to apologize and then asked my dad to act like his bodyguard so he didn’t get mugged on his way to the car. My dad obliged and had some nice conversations with Johnny on the way. I still have that episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show on tape. After my dad passed away, having this little video with my dad waving and saying “Hi, Johnny!” has been quite comforting.
Ok, back to this #FridayReads post (sorry, I’m quite wordy when telling stories).
What I Know for Sure is a collection of essays that originally appeared in Oprah’s magazine. They’re organized by themes such as joy, gratitude, resilience, possibility, awe, etc. Remember that book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum? Well, this is sort of the Oprah version. The essays are small enough to digest a few at a time or all at once.
I admit that on the weekends you can probably find me wearing my Oprah Winfrey Show T-shirt while drinking out of my Oprah Winfrey Show mug (both of which my husband scored in a swag bag from producers of the show—like I said, I’ve got a few Oprah stories). But I swear this little collection of essays is worth reading for non-Oprah fans too.
It’s the perfect little book to help me reflect and find peace and (especially right now) remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving…before or after I run in and out of five different grocery stores in search of the one ingredient I forgot to buy that everyone is sold out of while my son insists I sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” over and over. And if you happen to have a meltdown while arm wrestling someone for the last can of pumpkin, just remember what Oprah knows for sure: “no matter where you are, you are a single choice away from a new beginning.”