listen to your motherAs most children will tell you, the phrase “Listen to your mother” is something that you hear from a young age to even adulthood. After all, mother knows best. But how do all those mothers seem to magically know about all those mothering tricks? Read this book to find out. Ann Imig has brought together a wide variety of essays in her book, Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now that draws opinions and experiences of motherhood and, more widely, from parenthood in general from the point of view of children, parents, and grandparents.

The title of this book may be “Listen to Your Mother,” but the views presented within this collection range from surrogacy to LGBTQ parenting to adoption to first-time moms to being empty nesters to special-needs parenting and many, many others. Some stories are heart-breaking, some are happy, while others still seem to be a mixture of both. Imig and the writers are voicing their tales of motherhood, the ones that they feel are uniquely their own, but have come to realize that the underlying tales of family are relatable across age, race, and family type. One son speaks of how he was raised by two mothers, two men discuss how it is to raise their children without a mother, while another discusses how her mother raised her to be strong and independent and how she hopes to raise her daughter the same way. Check out this book to read the hilarious and intriguing stories presented within.

Some of the essays in this book have come from the Listen to Your Mother movement, a speaker series with a Youtube Channel and a website put together by Imig with the mission to support motherhood by giving voice to motherhood and celebrating the diversity present within motherhood by live, original reading performed onstage.

 What Was I Thinking?: 58 Bad Boyfriend Storieswhat was i thinking was edited by Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubelman as a way for people to talk about the point in their relationship where they realized that their dealings with that person were doomed and over. Sometimes the relationship may not actually end for weeks or even years later, but there is usually that one defining moment where it suddenly hits you that you don’t like that person as much as you thought you did. Out of the hundreds of submissions that Davilman and Dubelman received, they were only able to pick out 58 to put together into this collection.

As I was reading this book, I came across many themes: 1) sometimes the reasons for our break-ups may seem like nothing at all to other people(he plucked his uni-brow, I dyed my hair, he didn’t like to read), but they can be deal-breakers to the person who ultimately calls it quits, 2) that A-HA relationship-ending moment may not be so obvious to us right when it happens, but in hindsight, we definitely recognize that moment as the “start of impending doom”, 3) that blast of clarity when we know that the relationship was over was sometimes more vivid and easier to remember than the entire relationship itself, and 4) no matter how many times our friends tell us our significant other may be just a little too weird, we will not actually break-up with that person ourselves until we burst out of the happiness bubble and honeymoon phase of the new relationship and see the person for who they really are.

Check out this book to commiserate with these women about the moments when they knew their relationships were just over and it became clear that that relationship was not going to work out. Be prepared to look back out your own relationships as you read this book because the women sharing their personal stories are not afraid to dig deep into their pasts to talk about their moments of clarity, no matter how foggy those moments have been right in the midst of the happiness.

true stories, well toldAre you looking for a break from a traditional fiction book? Are you looking for a shorter read or something that you won’t feel guilty for only reading a section of and then skipping the rest? If yes, take a look at True Stories, Well Told: From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine.

This is an anthology of essays taken from Creative Nonfiction. I enjoy reading collections of essays as they allow me to just read short snippets of a book without having to commit to the whole book. Lee Gutkind and Hattie Fletcher edited this collection and brought together twenty essays from the first twenty years of this magazine. Creative Nonfiction is a magazine that was founded in 1993 with Lee Gutkind as the founding editor.

Confused about what creative nonfiction is? In the introduction, Susan Orlean talks about how people know what creative nonfiction is, but they just don’t realize it. Let Gutkind describe the history of creative nonfiction, as well as his founding of the magazine, in his closing essay. Creative Nonfiction was formed as a way for the contributors to alert readers about the wide variety of topics and writing styles that could be included under the genre of creative nonfiction. All the essays selected for this anthology cover relatable topics that readers themselves may have come into contact with during their lives.

Ranging from humorous to inspiring, follow along as these select twenty essays delve into topics like butterflies, being a mother, dealing with death, abuse, history, healthcare, and discovering who you really are.

Notes from a Small IslandTravel writers range from morose (Paul Theroux) to the absurdist. Summer seems more appropriate for the latter, so for the unfortunate few out there who haven’t experienced a Bill Bryson book, please do so now.

There’s absolutely no excuse for those of us who live in Iowa, as Bryson is one of our own. He grew up in Des Moines, traveled in Europe in the ’70’s as a young man, and has alternated living in England and the U.S. ever since.

My all time favorite is Notes from a Small Island, in which Bryson affectionately pokes fun at the English in all their eccentricity. He clearly admires the British character – their humility and forbearance, but can  endlessly mock their customs and  language (place names such as Farleigh Wallop and Shellow Bowells and incomprehensible Scots accents). Those of us who’ve never quite grown up find this hilarious.

The blurb on the British version warns, “Not a book that should be read in public, for fear of emitting loud snorts.”

John Deere ClassicEven though the John Deere Classic is off to a soggy start, there’s still a lot of excitement about following and watching the professionals play golf the way it should be played (and maybe the way you wish you played!) Feeling inspired to improve your game, or pick it up for the first time? Interested in reading more about the stories and legends of golf? The library has lots of books on golf – here are some of the newest:

Walking with Friends: an Inspirational Year on the PGA Tour by DJ Gregory

Ben Hogan’s Magical Device: the Real Secret to Hogan’s Swing Finally Revealed by Ted Hunt

Are You Kidding Me? the Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the US Open

Golfing with Your Eyes Closed: Mastering Visualization Techniques for Exceptional Golf by Erin Macy

The Italian Summer: Golf, Food and Family at Lake Como by Roland Merullo

The Leaderboard: Conversations on Golf and Life by Amy Alcott

The Inner Game of Golf by W Timothy Gallwey

Once all the presents are bought and candies and cookies have been made, it’ll be time to relax with a good holiday book to keep you in the spirit.

The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

Tom Langdon is a former war reporter who now writes feature articles for various magazines. Banned from flying on airplanes, Langdon is forced to take a cross-country train from Washington, D.C., to L.A., where his girlfriend is waiting to spend Christmas with him. To Tom’s shock, the former love of his life, Eleanor, is also aboard the train. Sparks fly between them, bringing up old feelings along with the unresolved issues from their relationship. Tom realizes this might be his second chance with Eleanor, but a series of unexpected events may derail his plans.

A Christmas Memory – Truman Capote

A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote’s childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook Faulk.

A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg

Lured by a brochure his doctor gives him after informing him that his emphysema has left him with scarcely a year to live, 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell abandons wintry Chicago for Lost River, Ala., where he believes he’ll be spending his last Christmas. Befriended by Frances Cleverdon, this quirky story takes a heartwarming turn when Frances and Oswald become involved in the life of Patsy Casey, an abandoned young girl with a crippled leg. As Christmas approaches, the townspeople and neighboring communities rally round shy, sweet Patsy. Flagg is a gifted storyteller who knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings, winding up her satisfying holiday tale with the requisite Christmas miracle.

Christmas at Fontaine’s – William Kotzwinkle

Tis the night before Christmas and all through Fontaine’s department store something mysterious and magical is happening. For into the lives of the department store Santa, the harried employees and the worried owner has come a mysterious presence, a silver streak, hiding in the darkened stockrooms and empty stairwells, appearing for an instant – now in the Toy Department, now in an unfinished window display – turning the chaos of a department store on Christmas Eve into a wonderland of miracles.

Tidings – William Wharton

This intimate family novel by takes place during a few days around Christmas. At an old mill in rural France, philosophy teacher Will, wife Lor, and four nearly grown children reunite for the holidays. The scene and the season are so lovingly detailed that the novel’s atmosphere is almost palpable, yet each family member brings to the festivities some personal trouble that he or she will try to resolve. As they struggle to make this a Christmas to remember, the people and their celebration come alive in an unusual, entertaining, heartwarming evocation of the magic, warmth, and underlying strains of family Christmas.

The Great Santa Search – Jeff Guinn

When TV producer Bobbo Butler tries to save his ailing TV station, FUN-TV, with an American Idol-inspired talent contest intended to find the real Santa, the man himself throws his hat into the ring. Guinn’s clever premise draws on the historical roots of the commercialization of Christmas, and his Santa, who narrates, is sanguine when faced with the prospect of facing off against street corner Santas.

Today is the first annual National Day of Listening, sponsored by StoryCorps. The purpose of the day is to encourage you to listen to and record a story from the life of a relative or friend. The day after Thanksgiving is ideal since many people have the day off from work, and many families gather for the long weekend.

Capturing memories is beyond any price and you – and your children and grandchildren – will be glad you did. History taught in school may be about dates and big events, but the real flavor of history is in how people lived every day and how those big events affected them. Recording the story of how your Dad rode his horse every day to the one-room schoolhouse, or how your grandmother cooked elaborate meals on a wood burning stove not only brings them to life once again, it keeps them alive for future generations. Find out how your Uncle Bill felt when he returned from the war in Iraq, your Mother’s stories of moving away from home for the first time to go to law school, of the time your cousin broke his leg playing on the swing set or how your brother managed to flip your Dad’s car – twice. Listening may be the greatest gift you can give both to the storyteller and to yourself.

StoryCorps website has some excellent resources to get you started – how to get ready for the interview, how to actively listen to the speaker, how to record the stories (either in writing, on audio or on video) and even offer a Question Generator to help you get started. They also encourage you to share your stories through their website and list several that are available to listen to for inspiration.

For more information about StoryCorps and their goals, visit their website or check out Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay, a collection of some of the most inspiring and moving stories that have been recorded so far. You’ll be motivated to not only record some of your family’s stories today, but to make it an annual holiday tradition.