Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

I have all the feelings about Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders and yet, have so many problems.

  1. I wish I had read it sooner.
  2. I wish I had the eloquence to say just how much I loved this book.
  3. I wish I had something new to say about this book. I feel I missed the boat on this one.
  4. And lastly, I wish I wasn’t so rusty when it comes to writing book reviews.

Yet, I feel like my experience in reading Bardo could be helpful.

When first Bardo came out, it came touting its 166 member cast which boasted such talent as Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller, Lena Dunham, Jeffrey Tambor, Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Rainn Wilson, and Susan Sarandon, plus many, many more, I could not wait to listen. Count. Not. Wait. It just sounded so exciting! 166 readers? WOW!

Alas, I hated it. I don’t think I have ever felt so claustrophobic and confused while listening to an audiobook. I couldn’t keep up with the characters, let alone the story. I was too busy trying to figure out who the celebrity voicing the character WAS, that I missed what the character was SAYING. I had to give up. And I was sad about it, because it seemed like everyone whose opinion I respected, loved it. I WANTED TO LOVE IT TOO DAMNIT.

Flash forward a few months. I went on a reading retreat with some of my favorite bookish people and I found a hardback copy of Bardo, for $5 (!), and I snapped it up.  I was still absolutely certain the book was for me. Yet, still I hesitated. Until, in the weeks leading up to my daughter’s back surgery, I picked it up (in a long series of other books) looking for a distraction. I was instantly enchanted and I could not put it down.

I had found the perfect book at the perfect time.

I plan to go back and listen to the audio again soon. Now that I know the story, I don’t think I’ll be so overwhelmed. I hope, if you were similarly put off by the audio, that you will try the book again in paper. It’s just wonderful and sits squarely in my top ten favorites for the year, if not ever.