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article imageReview: 'Life-lessons' book is an easy read that made it to best-seller Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Oct 8, 2015 in Lifestyle
Haines - Amid the long tally of books that emerge each year, it's always a surprise to see a little book of just over 150 pages make it to a best seller's list.
What is even more surprising is the author was initially reluctant to write it. "I really hate telling people what to do or think— and yet, I know a few a things, said Alaskan author Heather Lende. And yet like it's title, she said "I do believe we have to find the good - and there’s a lot of it - even in this really messy world," she said. "Find The Good - Unexpected Life Lessons From A Small-Town Obituary Writer" is her third book.
A view from her front porch  author Heather Lende has lived in the small town of Haines  Alaska for ...
A view from her front porch, author Heather Lende has lived in the small town of Haines, Alaska for more than 30 years. 20 of those years she has been the obituary writer for the local paper, the Chilkat Valley News.
Courtesy of Bear Star Web designs and Heather Lende
It has gotten a four-star rating with over 100 reviews on Goodreads, all praiseworthy. Author Jo-Ann Mapson noted her review..."Ever since Algonquin published her first book, the New York Times bestseller 'If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name,' Heather Lende has been praised for her storytelling talent and her plainspoken wisdom. The Los Angeles Times called her “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott,” and that comparison has never been more apt as she gives us a fresh, positive perspective from which to view our relationships, our obligations, our priorities, our community, and our world."
Lende said that she has enjoyed the experience of this little book thus far. "I’m used to the process, and I like the work. I feel so lucky to live where I do, a fairly remote, Alaskan town, and yet to be able to write and send my thoughts out into the world. It’s pretty great."
"It was challenging to keep it tight," she told this reporter. "The whole purpose was a short book and I tend to ramble. Yet I did not want it to be preachy." She admitted that in keeping it short what she had to share was not some "pithy haiku wisdom."
Lende speaks from the heart and in a down-to-earth conversation-type-of-style. For an easy read, and not a haiku poetry booklet, the little book expresses a lot of thought-provoking depth. And so I asked her, was it something that just cropped up? Or were all these thoughts and perspectives brewing for a long time waiting for the perfect opportunity?
"I have been writing obituaries in Haines, Alaska - a small town for about twenty years," she said. On average that would be "some 400 plus obits for people that I know. Some I have known very well. Everyone I write about dies, Lende said. So, it would be weird if I didn’t think about what this life means, what makes a good one - what remains. I’m not a brooder though," she added. "It’s more like 'you will never believe what happened today...' People everywhere lead all kinds of inspiring lives," she said. "I’m lucky to get the experiences I have had writing about them, as well as a few things I have learned both writing about pretty good lives." "And as a parent of five children, she noted, and as a citizen of a small town that requires a certain grace to navigate."
This little book of less than 160 pages has made its way onto at least two local  best-seller  lists...
This little book of less than 160 pages has made its way onto at least two local 'best-seller' lists. Now in its third printing, it is most likely that the book will reach a few more. And has been awarded literary distinction by Audiophile Magazine with a Golden Earphone award.
Yet as she told PBS for the program 'Indie Alaska', "I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, NY. We did not know our neighbors. Not even the names of the people who lived next-door. I think my parents liked it that way." But in a town like Haines that type of isolation will be detrimental to survival not only socially but on a very basic level.
Like much of Alaska, Haines is a frontier, or as its visitors center and convention bureau likes to refer to it, "The Adventure Capital." It is easy to see why Lende has remained for so many years. The scenery is breathtaking. The community must help one another to survive and thrive. And perhaps it is that interdependent aspect that is the hidden gem which shines in Lende's writing, when she speaks of the people of the community. "I am not a big traveler, she said. I love being home; so my publisher - Algonquin Books - help set up cruise ship talks, this past summer which were like book tour visits except the tour came to me, said Lende and that was perfect!"
To learn more about author Heather Lende and her book "Find The Good - Unexpected Life Lessons From A Small-Town Obituary Writer" visit her web site.
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