I have had a lot going on for the past several months (more about this in another blog), so I haven’t been blogging. I actually wrote this blog the first week of July and never proofed it. I was going to include July here, but I decided to go with the mantra “Progress – NOT PERFECTION” and go ahead an publish this as my 2nd quarter reading.
THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILLY PONDER by Rebecca Wells – This was a nice beach type read. As with Rebecca Wells’ previous books, there is a profound sense of place, and this time it is on the La Luna river in Louisianna, where life is simple, and there is a colorful cast of locals. However, after some heartbreaks, Calla goes to New Orleans to attend a beauty school with dreams of opening her own salon back in La Luna. Here she makes new friends and eventually moves back to La Luna after more setbacks. The book was enjoyable, but I felt the ending, which seemed to go on and on, was contrived and not as good as the rest of the book.
HELP, THANKS, WOW: THREE ESSENTIAL PRAYERS by Anne Lamott – I heard an interview on NPR with Anne Lamott and she touched on this book. When I received a copy of it, initially I was disappointed in how small it is – it can be read in about an hour. But, it packs a punch. I will keep this book to refer back to!
THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE: A WAR STORY by Diane Ackerman – This is a true story set in Warsaw during WWII. Antonina lives with her husband and son in a villa on the zoo grounds – which is well ahead of the times, providing natural habitat for the animals. Then the Nazi’s arrive, along with their total disregard for life. Drunken soldiers shoots animals in their cages for instance. But, the family manages to survive and ends up rescuing Jews and working in the resistance. I would say part of the book is endearing, and other parts horrifying. It is well worth the read (No, I haven’t seen the movie).
HOW TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE: SOULFUL STORIES, SURPRISING SCIENCE AND PRACTICAL WISDOM by Jonathan Fields – This was recommended by a friend, who actually makes an appearance in the book! This is a simple, but profound, instruction manual to reclaim your life in 30 days. He divides the book into three buckets: Vitality, Connection and Contribution. I bought several copies of this book and have given it to women that are going through profound changes.
I REMEMBER NOTHING AND OTHER REFLECTIONS by Nora Ephron – This is a wonderful collection of essays by Ephron – she apparently wrote them while suffering from leukemia, which her closest friends were unaware of. It is kind of like sitting down and having lunch with a good friend! I will read more by her!
MARRYING GEORGE CLOONEY: CONFESSIONS FROM A MIDLIFE CRISIS by Amy Ferris – On a quest to find books where the heroine is an older woman, I stumbled upon this laugh out loud funny book. Amy Ferris began writing down her stories in the middle of the night while going through menopause. Along the way, she googles old boyfriends, imagines her life with George Clooney, researches obscure diseases on the internet. She tries to get care for her mother, with severe dementia and who has a crush on Jesus Christ. This is a book to share with other women!
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi – This is not a book to read, put down and forget. This is a story of courage and hope. Dr. Kalanithi wrote this while battling a terminal lung cancer diagnosis. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” He goes from a top-rated surgical resident to a patient and a writer. It is a memoir on how to live a well-lived life while facing death.
MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Carol Dweck – There are basically two types of mindsets – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. This with a fixed mindset are those who believe that abilities are fixed – and they are less likely to flourish in the world. Those with a growth mindset are those that believe abilities can be developed. It is interesting – and yes – you can change your mindset.
THE BREAKDOWN by B.A. Paris – good psychological suspense story that is a page turner – I couldn’t put it down. I don’t want to give anything away, but be prepared for anything in the book!
NEW PASSAGES – MAPPING YOUR LIFE YOUR LIFE ACROSS TIME – by Gail Sheehy – A sequel to the previous book PASSAGES, this book goes beyond the midlife crisis to the later stages in life. If a woman reaches her 60’s without any major health scares, she will probably reach her 90’s. This book shows there is still a lot of living to do – that you don’t have to buy a rocker and learn to knit. You can live your “Second or Next Adulthood” on your own terms!
BROKEN OPEN: HOW DIFFICULT TIMES CAN HELP US GROW by Elizabeth Lesser – The stories in this book show how people who have experienced illness, divorce, loss of a job, of loss of a love one have risen up and become stronger and wiser than before. She shows us how to learn to break open and blossom into who we were meant to be. I will keep this book and refer back to it.
THE UNDERDOGS- CHILDREN, DOGS, and the POWER OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE by Melissa Fay Greene – okay – I admit it, I am a dog person – and on top of that, the author is local (from Atlanta). The book is filled with stories of children, that were considered “too disabled” to get a service dog. It is the story of Karen Shirk, who at age 24 was told the same thing. She founded 4 PAWS 4 ABILITY to combat that belief. Over 1000 trained dogs later, the human/dog bond is explored. There is a cast of characters, including felons, scientists, children with disabilities and their parents, and of course the dogs. You will laugh out loud, and you will cry. And you will hug your dog while reading this.
OH MY GOD, WE’RE PARENTING OUR PARENTS: HOW TO TRANSFORM THIS REMARKABLE JOURNEY INTO A JOURNEY OF LOVE by Jane Wolf Waterman – This book if for anyone that is taking care of their elderly parents. It is filled with much needed advice and insights as more and more adult children are taking care of their elderly parents. It is a book to refer back to and share with others going through the journey.
TATTOOS ON THE HEART: THE POWER OF BOUNDLESS COMPASSION by Gregory Boyle – Gregory Boyle started Homeboy Industries, which is a gang-intervention program located in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. A book of essays, one is constantly reminded that no life is less valuable than another. You will realize there is power in unconditional love. If Gregory Boyle ever comes to town, I will go hear him speak!
THE YEAR OF YES: HOW TO DANCE IT OUT, STAND IN THE SUN AND BY YOUR OWN PERSON by Shonda Rhimes – Shonda is challenged by her sister over Thanksgiving dinner to start saying yes, so for one year, she decides to say yes to anything that scares her. With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for her to say she was just too busy to do something. During this year, she forces herself to get out of the house and explore her truest self.
ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld – This is a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The Bennet’s are facing financial ruin because Mr. Bennet’s has had a heart attack. Liz, a magazine editor in New York, moves home to Cincinnati to help. We meet Chip Bingley, the former star of a Bachelor type show, along with his obnoxious sister Caroline and the seemingly snobby Fitzwilliam Darcy. This was a book club selection and I believe I was one of the few that had read the original Pride and Prejudice, and the members of the book club loved it. It is hilarious and easy to read.
THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion – When Didion’s husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, dies suddenly of a heart attack, while their only child, Quintana, as in a coma at the hospital (with pneumonia and septic shock). Didion calls this time as “magical thinking”. There is the pain of loss, you feel the quiet apartment. But you read about her memories of their almost 40 years today. It is a little painful to read, and as part of the human race, we will all go through losses and heartbreak.
SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult – I didn’t realize when I read this that is was based on a true story. In the fictional version, Ruth, an African-American nurse, has been told not to care for a newborn baby because the white supremacist father has requested it. She finds herself in court because of the events that happen. You get the back story of Ruth, Turk – the white supremacist father, and the public defender who takes the case. Some of the book is a little uncomfortable. I felt parts of it were over researched. But, this is a great book for book club to discuss!