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A memoir of self care; author Megan Griswold to visit Iowa City

Megan Griswold’s debut memoir is a beautifully assembled example of humanism and the importance of learning through the life of others.

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A memoir of self care; author Megan Griswold to visit Iowa City

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Isabel Zuppa, Arts Reporter

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The secret to self-care may remain elusive, but author Megan Griswold offers up her perspective and solutions to those willing to listen.

Griswold will be reading from her memoir The Book of Help: A Memoir in Remedies at Prairie Lights on March 15 at 7 p.m.. A novice to Iowa City, Griswold said she is excited and honored to come to this writing mecca. 

With Griswold having her best friend — and a main character in the book — from Iowa, this stop on a long book tour won’t be a source of fatigue for Griswold. She described her readings as an interactive space.

“I’m super extroverted, so I like reading and blending that with fun conversation,” Griswold said. “I read and chat. [The audience] ask me questions and I ask them.” 

RELATED: Nonbinary author Sandy Allen sparks conversation on mental health at Prairie Lights

With a book filled with personality and lessons, The Book of Help lends itself to a colorful cover, with black and white illustrations fluttered throughout the inside of the book. 

“[Regarding the cover] I fought very hard and got a lot of support,” she said. “Usually they don’t let the writer weigh in much and they really let me weigh in. I’m very grateful to my editor and agent because of that.” 

In the early creation of her book, Griswold found herself reading out her life to her close friend, Pam DeVore. They were both going through a tough time, Griswold said, and talking on the phone allowed for a therapeutic editing exchange. 

“[DeVore] was sort of depressed on her bed, looking up at her ceiling, going blind. I was calling her to tell what ridiculous things I was up to,” she said. “I started writing them down and reading them to her to to sort of entertain her and give voice to some of the things I was dealing with. It evolved into this lovely reading, then listening, then editor/commentator relationship.” 

As the idea of a memoir started growing, Griswold said she realized why she was doing what she was doing.

“I felt in an interesting position to comment and influence. I wanted to have an impact on the conversation we have on alternative therapy,” she said. “I often find there are two ends of the spectrum, where one is you sort of make fun of people who do them and then often, the people who do them take them way too seriously. I wanted to, without saying anything with expert advice, kind of describe the experience of going through them organically over many decades.” 

The Book of Help is a piece in which Griswold lays her heart on the table. 

“I have this idea that the things we like least about ourselves, ironically, most endear us to one another. So I really wanted to out the stupidest, most bumbling parts of me,” she said. “If they can like me OK, maybe they can like themselves a bit better.” 

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