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April was a slowish reading month, but I did buy and read a great little book which I have to add to with my own story.


books bought: Pen & Ink Isaac Fitzgerald

books read: Sex Object by Jessica Valenti – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – Brown by Kamal Al-Solalyee – Lily And The Octopus by Steven Rowley – The Hidden Life Of Trees by Peter Wohlleben – Pen & Ink by Isaac Fitzgerald – The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman

Apart from a great book translated from a German bestseller explaining that trees really could be Ents, and the entertaining multiverse of Jason Dessen(s), I didn’t get a whole lot of memorable reading done. Until I found Pen & Ink.

With contributions from Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay, this is a commonplace book of tattoos. Everybody’s story is illustrated – both on their skin and in this book. I have to say, most of them are not happy stories. Death, divorce, and depression seem the reason for many tattoos. But they do come at a turning point in people’s lives, at a point when you can hope that better days are ahead. This is a special book. Like the tattoos, the struggles and hopes of these people are permanent and, often, hidden. So it’s a privilege to be let into their lives.

My own tattoo came at a turning point. It wasn’t at the beginning of my divorce, and it wasn’t at the end – I’m not sure that sort of thing has a defined end. Rather, it came at the end of the beginning. At the point when the most of the darkest days were behind me and I could at least imagine things getting better even if it didn’t feel like it right then. “miserere mei deus – have mercy on me O God.” It’s the opening line of Psalm 51 and among the most brilliant pieces of music in history. Today it feels like we all only get one chance. One true love; you only live once; and if you screw up, the web remembers forever. So perhaps we could all do with a little mercy. A little second chance. She and I couldn’t make it work. But I’ve given myself a permanent reminder that do-overs are indeed possible in life.