Back to School Book Review

With the children back in school I am finally seated in front of my screen. So much to share. So many things I witnessed, experienced, and thought about all summer and said to myself “Now this would be great for the blog!” So now I am going to get down to it and start writing again. First things first, after a slow spring when it came to reading, I dove head first into some great books this summer. Both paper and Audible. Here is a round up of the best I read.

Permission to Feel – If you were ever told to “toughen up and get on with it” as a child, or even now, Dr. Marc Brackett makes a great case for allowing ourselves, our children, and those we love to feel emotions fully. In this book he gives the reader clear examples of how slowing down and assessing why we feel a certain way, or what triggered it, can help us to then process and more appropriately react to our surroundings and experiences. I have thought of this book often as I see my kids heading back to school and expressing a lot of emotions. There is some great practical advice in the book about how to parent better and from a place of more openness to the myriad of feelings they experience.

How To Do The Work – Another great book (you’ll notice a theme here…) by relative newcomer Dr. Nicole LePera. LePera is the first writer to help me understand the idea of systematic low grade trauma and what it can do the mind and the body. Too many of us think that only the “Capital T” traumas (death, assault, rape, drugs, homelessness, etc.) stay with us and haunt us in the future. LePera makes a case for smaller traumas (not being seen or heard by your parents, witnessing fighting daily, being bullied, being verbally put down, etc.) being just as impactful as the big ones. I think way too many of us underestimate how our upbringing shapes us into the adults we become. This book helped me to process a lot from my past and assess why I feel certain things to this day when confronted with stress or trauma. Her Instagram feed is also incredibly on point. You can find her here.

Empire of Pain – This book reads like a novel, and the most disturbing part of it is that it is non-fiction. If you have seen someone you love struggle with opioid addiction, this book will make you horrified and downright angry. Patrick Radden Keefe takes you back in history to learn how the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma made billions off of opioids, and all the while they knew it was addictive and could potentially kill millions. The science based research also walks you through how and why opioids are in fact so addictive.

Greenlights – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography. I listened to this one on Audible and McConaughey reads it himself. He is a complete optimist, and his childhood of hijinks and high risk fun clearly shaped him into a man who knows how to appreciate life and live it to the fullest. It’s a great post-Covid reminder of seizing the day and having a good time along the way!

Malibu Rising – This book was 100% sexy summer beach read. The plot line follows a fictional family of surfers. All gorgeous, successful and complicated. It made me want to head west immediately and catch a wave.

The Last Thing He Told Me – I hadn’t read a good mystery since Girl on a Train. I listened to this one while biking around on our vacation and I added more than a few miles because I didn’t want to stop listening during the most intense parts. I don’t want to spoil the plot but it has a bit of romance, a big dose of “who done it”, and some great characters.

The Vanishing Half – I had heard great things about this book and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I will warn you it is intense. The plot follows twin sisters raised in a fair-skinned African American town. The community prides themselves on almost looking white, to the point where many members of the community express racism towards those darker than themselves. The twins separate in their twenties and decide to live drastically different lives. Brit Bennett has a beautifully detailed way of writing and isn’t afraid to take a deep dive into topics like racism, sexual discrimination, transsexuality, and the family secrets that haunt, hurt, and bind us together for life.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – This book I grabbed from the Little Free Library in my neighborhood. Kudos to the person who created this non-profit. I often have books I pass on to friends that I don’t want to keep after reading them. These libraries allow you to reach a larger audience with your old books. The premise of these Little Free Libraries is to create small free book sharing “mailboxes” in communities. I saw this book and had been wanting to read it for some time. I am curious about all things medical so this book appealed to me. It’s a true story about an African American woman who developed cervical cancer in 1950. Her tumor cells were taken by Johns Hopkins without her consent. They were used in the lab and became the first human cells to ever reproduce indefinitely. Trillions of them exist to this day. They have been used to create vaccines, find cures, and develop treatments for many diseases. Sadly her family didn’t learn about her miraculous reproducing cells until 20 years after she passed away. The book makes you think long and hard about medical ethics and how we weigh complicated choices when examining the common good of all mankind.

Little Free Library

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