Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What I'm reading this summer

I don't mean to brag, but I've got lots of time to read right now. Don't get me wrong, life still feels a bit chaotic between being home with the girlies over the summer and teaching my course, but at the end of the day I can read. No papers to write about childbirth, reproductive organs, or labour support. No births to run out to. I can open an actual book and just read.

I wanted to share with you what I'm reading this summer, you know, in case you were looking for suggestions.

Stir by Jessica Fechtor

I've already completely devoured this book and I think you should, too. Jessica writes Sweet Amandine, a food blog I've loved for years. We've met online a few times so I'm going to call her my friend, mostly because I'm so proud and excited about her beautiful book. It's a memoir about the time in her life when her brain broke (I think the technical term is a brain aneurysm) and how she slowly healed with the help of food. Not just in the way you might think. She certainly needed to eat nourishing food to return to a state of health, but healing also came through all those wonderful things that are tied up so closely with the food we eat--memories, feelings, hopes, delight, and the anticipation that comes from creating with food to share with others. Jessica was fed in so many different ways in the years that followed her aneurysm. There were so many passages I wanted to highlight and pages I wanted to dog-ear, but sadly my copy was from the public library. This will be remedied shortly as I need to own this book. Did I mention it's also filled with recipes?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I chose this for the first meeting of our book club and then promptly forgot to read it. By the time we were set to get together for our first meeting I had read only 300 pages. Ordinarily reading that many pages would suggest that I'd finished a book, but no, not this one, because it pushes well beyond 700. But I'm not giving up! So far I'm enjoying the writing, though it's a bit sad (orphaned children will do that to you). I'll check back in once I'm actually done the book. Sometime in October.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson

I'm swooning over memoirs this summer and I'm excited to read this one. I remember back in university when a good friend bought me Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and I fell hard for Jeannette Winterson, only promptly to forget about her until I saw her memoir on a list of books to read somewhere on the internet. (I can't for the life of me remember where. You're welcome.) I think I'm drawn to good memoirs for the kind of storytelling that makes me imagine that I could do things differently in my own life. Motivation, inspiration, sometimes a kick in the pants to wake up and see my life with new eyes, these are memoirs for me. 

I'm just going to assume that you've seen Brene Brown's TED talk that went viral a couple of years ago. Just in case you were hiding under a rock, you can find it here. Brown studies shame and wholeheartedness (the opposite of shame). I read this book two years ago but I need a reminder to let go of shame as I'm trying so hard to make big changes in my life. I feel such shame when I stumble around trying to create better habits and to live intentionally (it's all part of being exceedingly hard on myself). This book brings makes me feel all the feelings.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Just go read this book. She's sharp, thoughtful, and hilarious. I adore how she shares her own version of the writing process and how she doesn't put herself down to be funny. I've only read the first two chapters and it's already one of my all-time favourites. I'm convinced we would be best friends, which isn't creepy at all.

This book isn't pictured above because I started reading it on my trip to Vancouver and like a dork left it in my sister's room. It is such a great book I made them mail it back to me in Toronto so I can finish it. Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a young black woman in Maryland who unknowingly donated some of her cancerous cells before she died (they were taken without her consent). And why do we care about her cells? Because these cells, called HELA cells now, are still living and growing today, being used by researchers all over the world to develop vaccines and cure diseases. No biggie. Skloot introduces the world to the woman behind the cells and tells many people's stories in the process.

What are you reading this summer?

Be well!

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