One Hundred Names for Love: a Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing – Diane Ackerman, 2011

We saw the slightly-narcissistic-but-deeply-moving book trailer at a library conference and all wanted to order it for our library. The book lives up to the trailer’s promise, showing how thanks to West’s huge pre-stroke vocabulary, Ackerman’s love, and the hard work of both of them plus a remarkable assistant, West managed to recover the ability to communicate, and even wrote a novel, despite aphasia. I loved Ackerman’s uninhibited sharing of their private couple language, like the “mrok” sound they use as a phatic “I’m here,” referring to each other as wombats, and the wonderful list of the Hundred Names in the back. The list starts with “Celandine Hunter” and ends with “O Parakeet of the Lissome Star;” my favorites are “My Little Bucket of Hair” (extremely apt!), “Lovely Ampersand of the Morning,” “Opalescent Rejoicing of an Eel,” “Dark-Eyed Junco, My Little Bunko,”and “Telephone Fensterhorn,” but they’re all either funny, beautiful, weird, mysterious, or all four at once.