Home Feed
Home
Search
Search
Add Review, Blurb, Quote
Add
Activity
Activity
Profile
Profile
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life | Yiyun Li
25 posts | 13 read | 38 to read
In her first nonfiction book, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li explores a question we ask ourselves: How does one make life livable? What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance? Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living. Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Soren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together. Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live? Dear Friend is a beautiful, interior exploration of selfhood and a journey of recovery through literature: a long letter from a writer to like-minded readers. Advance praise for Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life In this exquisite, intimate, lyrical memoir, Yiyun Li reveals her life in flashes appended to an arrestingly coherent philosophy of time, self, and place. Uniting the discipline of a scientist with the empathy of a novelist, she scatters profound and often difficult truths through these generous, wise, challenging pages. Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree Yiyun Li has written a remarkable account of her literary life, begun in her youth in China with the books that first engaged her in the great conversations of literature. In her own emergence as an important and gifted writer in English she has brought a new voice to that great world. She has also been, in the deepest sense, sustained by it. Her new book is a meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life. Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead Literature, national identity versus the individual self, the clash of public and private, the mysterious nature of relationship, indeed, human nature itself these subjects and more are explored with remarkable subtlety and rare, limpid mental beauty. A must-read for anyone trying to stay sane in a world that might be perceived as insane. Mary Gaitskill, author of The Mare This extraordinary book is the story of a writer being made and making herself. It is the story of depression coming in waves and being beaten back through love and stubbornness. And also it is one of our finest writers scrutinizing the books that have mattered most to her. AkhilSharma, author of Family Life Reading Yiyun Li feels like being inside a mind a quietly forceful, unrelenting mind. Within the limits of language, which she all but touches, she unfolds an argument with the self. She is suspicious of the very concept of the self, but she does not, ultimately, refuse its possibilities. What a long way it is from one life to another, she writes, while closing that space. Eula Biss, author of On Immunity"
Amazon Indiebound Barnes and Noble WorldCat Goodreads LibraryThing
Pick icon
100%
blurb
fleeting
post image

It's funny how one paragraph, or even one line, can make you pick up your pen and write pages of a narrative, to the point where my pen ran out of ink (well, it was also old) and my notebook out of pages (it was just the notes part at the back of my planner). I managed to put down small portions of my maternal and paternal grandparents' stories in a narrative of my being neither here nor there. That, I think, means the writer has done his/her job.

Severnmeadows This is very lovely - thought provoking - 8mo
12 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
kathedron
post image
Pickpick

Why live? Why write? These questions frequently exercise me, too. I'm not much closer to answering them but am beginning to suspect that the asking itself is the answer.
Yiyun Li comes across as a difficult person and doesn't prettify herself to be more ingratiating to her reader. I respect that.
I didn't enjoy it, exactly, but it seems the at-arm's-length company of another reclusive, depressive bibliophile is sometimes just what's needed.

56 likes2 stack adds
quote
kathedron
post image

...the effort, under the gaze of the former, seems ludicrous. One always knows how best to sabotage one's own life."

Way too relatable! ?

batsy Oh wow. I feel this quote ❤️ 13mo
34 likes1 comment
review
Abailliekaras
post image
Mehso-so

Memoir written while depressed. Li is highly sensitive and fragile & struggles to be in the world; she shies away from connecting with people so as not to hurt them. (‘I am not the only casualty in this war against myself‘). She meditates on life, death and melodrama, enriched by the authors she‘s reading (Zweig, Woolf among others). The tone is melancholy; I appreciated her honesty & insights more than enjoying it.

47 likes3 stack adds
blurb
Abailliekaras
post image

Morning reading by the canal. This is melancholy & thought-provoking but oddly comforting. Have you read it? We‘ll be discussing it on Books On The Go. Fans of Maggie Nelson & Olivia Laing might like this.

youneverarrived Beautiful photo. 1y
Blaire Sounds interesting. #stacked 1y
Abailliekaras @blaire I‘ll be interested to hear what you think! 1y
45 likes3 stack adds4 comments
blurb
ValerieAndBooks
post image

Reading the Sunday paper (yes, a couple days behind), and am now intrigued by this author! Any of you read her?

DivineDiana Not yet! But I did read that paper! 😉 2y
shawnmooney I think I will eventually try it - have heard a few good things about the author. But to be honest it might take me a long long while to get to the point where I can hold my nose and try to get past that cringe-making absolutely god-awful title! 😂 2y
batsy This book sounds really good. I've read this by the author 2y
See All 11 Comments
merelybookish I read it this winter. I liked it but it's not easy (in style or subject matter.) Some essays are more interesting/effective. But I was moved and her use of language is gorgeous. I would like to read one of her novels. @shawnmooney The title comes from Katherine Mansfield. Apparently how she started her letters. It's unwieldy, but I kind of like it. ☺️ 2y
ValerieAndBooks @shawnmooney @merelybookish the title is nice and poetic, but too long. I can't even remember what it is right now as I type. I'll probably end up calling it "that one book of essays by that author" 2y
ValerieAndBooks @batsy did you like the one you read? It looks like a short story collection? 2y
batsy @ValerieAndBooks Yes, it is and to be honest I wasn't completely blown away by it. But a lot of people seem to enjoy her novels! 2y
charl08 Yes, not convinced, but want to try her novels. 2y
ValerieAndBooks @charl08 I'll keep my eyes open for that one! 2y
Alismcg I have read two of her works : The Vagrants and Kinder Than Solitude. I am now reading Dear Friend. Her writing can be described as nothing less than brilliant. 🌷 2y
72 likes4 stack adds11 comments
review
chlobee
post image
Pickpick

I absolutely loved this book, probably even more so because it was a serendipitous find at the library. Yiyun Li's writing is so lush and intimate and powerful, and I just had to buy it for that cover 😍 A top contender for favorite of 2017 for sure! #TGIFGIVEAWAY

1Q84 and Born a Crime are very close runners-up, too. (How could I only mention 1 book? 😂)

ReadingOver50 Love your pillows 😄 2y
chlobee @ReadingOver50 😄 thank you! This is my comfiest reading area ☀️🐞 2y
21 likes2 comments
blurb
merelybookish
post image

Eleven books is good for me!
#aprilbookshowers @RealLifeReading

britt_brooke Excellent!! 👏🏻 2y
cathysaid Eleven seems to be my monthly average as well. 👍 2y
PurpleyPumpkin Well done!😉 2y
58 likes4 comments
quote
merelybookish
post image

I know we all have multiple motives and reasons for reading. This one struck me as unfamiliar...

Suet624 Hmmm... 2y
59 likes1 comment
quote
MaggieShenKing
post image

blurb
merelybookish
post image

I may have gone a bit overboard at the library yesterday...😯

EvieBee So many goodies! 3y
Lmstraubie Nah, looks just about right. 😆 3y
71 likes2 comments
review
anna.hundert
post image
Pickpick

Read two excellent memoirs back to back recently :) they both center narratives of mental illness, but are SO different. Head over to my bookstagram (@annahundert) for both reviews. Xo

blurb
RebeccaH
post image

In the middle of this beautiful, dark, weight book. So many deep thoughts here!

blurb
ramyasbookshelf
post image

#booklust this book by yiyun li! The vagrants was such a powerful book.. can't wait to read another by such a talented writer.. and what an interesting title! Picture from Random House Instagram feed..

Lacythebookworm Sounds great! 😊 3y
32 likes3 stack adds1 comment
review
Lissa00
post image
Pickpick

This beautifully written memoir in essay form evolves around the author's hospitalization for severe depression. While vague in details, it mostly describes the books and writers she found solace in during that time. The book is not written linearly and often jumps around all over the place but this book is so lovely and lyrical. I can see how this might not be everyone's cup of tea but I couldn't put it down and really enjoyed every bit of it.

Stephykitten As someone also battling depression, this sounds wonderful 💕Stacked! 3y
94 likes2 stack adds1 comment
blurb
BookishTrish
post image
review
charl08
Mehso-so

Started loving it - but by the end had lost patience. There are definitely better books to read about being a writer and having a breakdown.

quote
charl08

Isolation, I was reminded again and again, is a danger. But what if one‘s real context is in books ?

quote
charl08
post image

Who among us dares to assert that our memories are not tainted by time, sweetest poison and bitterest antidote, untrustworthy ally and reliable annihilator?

LeahBergen Love this painting. ❤️ 3y
charl08 @LeahBergen it's stunning. I'd love to see the original. 3y
42 likes2 stack adds2 comments
quote
charl08

A young man confronted me at a reading, questioning my disinterest in being a political writer... Why can‘t you live up to that expectation? ... I have spent much of my life turning away from the scripts given to me, in China and in America; my refusal to be defined by the will of others is my one and only political statement.

quote
charl08
post image

I did not see myself in Scarlett O‘Hara; or Anna Karenina or Tess Durbeyfield or Jane Eyre; nor did I look for myself in Jean-Christophe or Nick Adams or Paul Morel or the old man fighting the sea. To read oneself into another person‘s tale is the opposite of how and why I read. To read is to be with people who, unlike those around one, do not notice one‘s existence.

MrBook 😊👍🏻 3y
58 likes5 stack adds1 comment
quote
charl08
post image

All the things in the world are not enough to drown out the voice of this emptiness that says: you are nothing. This emptiness does not claim the past because it is always here. It does not have to claim the future as it blocks out the future. It is either a dictator or the closest friend I have ever had.

blurb
charl08
post image

the TBR pile...

Cinfhen I didn't know there is a new book by the author of 3y
Cinfhen Super excited 😊 thanks for sharing your post💜 3y
charl08 Hope you enjoy it! 3y
39 likes3 comments