most loved books
I talk about this book a little bit over on the podcast; it’s one of my all-time favorite novels because it deals with religion, art, family expectations, and the ultimate dilemma of pursuing your talents and dreams in the face of pressure to conform to the life others expect from you. If you like your life lessons served up with fiction, you should definitely check this one out. (Or really anything by Chaim Potok.)
With her life falling apart, author Cheryl Strayed set out on an 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, documenting her growth, revelations, and hardships as she went. I remember feeling shocked at her bravery; traveling alone as a young-single-woman in the wilderness felt inherently risky. But as with so many things, her acts of courage offered me another vision of what is possible when we choose to step out into the unknown.
I loved this memoir; it contains a gritty account of author Mary Crow Dog’s personal upbringing and life on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, as well as a really interesting perspective on the American Indian Movement and some of the political work being done for American Indian Civil Rights in the 60’s and 70’s. History is rarely taught (or examined) from this point of view, which makes it both a compelling and necessary read.
As someone who has gone a few rounds with my own mental health highs and lows, I found myself drawn to Norah Vincent’s memoir on entering into three different mental health facilities. Her experiences were entrancing, to say the least, and I felt like I walked away with a clearer understanding of what it means to be part of the American mental healthcare system.
In 1999, Dr. Nielsen went to the South Pole as the only doctor in a group of 49 people. Once there, she discovered a lump in her breast and went on to perform her own biopsy and chemotherapy treatments while waiting to be rescued by the National Guard. Her steadfast ability to care for her own needs, as well as to continue serving her South Pole community to the best of her ability, was inspiring and encouraging: a reminder that we can always step up and do more than we knew we were capable of.
I came across this book in a thrift store and picked it up on a whim. As someone more familiar with pro-life rhetoric at the time, I found this to be a compelling picture of why women were choosing abortions, and why there were doctors who supported the legalization movement. If you consider yourself pro-choice, it’s an interesting, rarely referenced history. If you identify as pro-life, it’s an interesting perspective that you may have never considered before. Either way, it’s part of the history of America, specifically women in America.