Transitions: A Mother’s Journey by Élodie Durand; translated by Evan McGorray

“I thought I was open-minded… The news of my child’s gender change hit me like a tidal wave, sweeping away all my certainties. Sweeping away the comfort of my tidy little life.” – Anne Marbot, Transitions: A Mother’s Journey

Élodie Durand has created an informative story about understanding identities in their new book, Transitions: A Mother’s Journey, translated by Evan McGorray. When Anne Marbot learns that her 19-year-old child is a transgender man named Alex, she is shocked and overwhelmed. What happened to the child she raised as ‘Lucie’? She has so many questions, wondering if she has failed as a parent and if Alex has thought this life-changing decision through. Initially Anne puts her feelings, thoughts, and emotions ahead of Alex’s, not caring what he thinks or feels. Anne’s journey to self-discovery is long and chaotic, full of tears and anger and strong emotions. Alex and Anne’s relationship goes through rough patches, but through it all Alex stays strong for himself, not letting Anne push him around, while offering resources for Anne to learn more about gender, sexuality, and trans people. After some time, Anne goes through a transformation of her own. Watching her change into a stronger mother and ally was hard yet meaningful, especially seeing how Anne thought she was well-meaning in her initial reaction, but was instead hurting Alex and destroying their relationship.

This story is a must-read for families and friends who are struggling to reconcile their old assumptions about gender identities with new truths. Élodie Durand has taken Anne and Alex’s stories and shown them to readers with grace and sensitivity. They take care to include research and to draw as much as possible from personal experience. There is a list of resources at the end of the book, plus ample footnotes and resources mentioned throughout.

Prepare for the spelling bee!

The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place from May 28-30, 2024, near Washington, D.C. Our region’s representative at the competition this year is Partha Katreddy, of Bettendorf, a seventh-grader at Pleasant Valley Junior High School. Details about watching the spelling bee broadcast can be found at https://spellingbee.com/watch.

Brush up on your own spelling skills and the history of spelling bees with these items from Davenport Public Library’s collection.

Beeline : what spelling bees reveal about generation Z’s new path to success by Shalini Shankar (2019) – Generation Z — youth born after 1997 — seems to be made up of anxious overachievers, hounded by Tiger Moms and constantly tracked on social media. One would think that competitors in the National Spelling Bee would be the worst off. Shankar argues that, far from being simply overstressed and overscheduled, Gen Z spelling bee competitors are learning crucial twenty-first-century skills from their high-powered lives, displaying a sophisticated understanding of self-promotion, self-direction, and social mobility. She examines the outsize impact of immigrant parents and explains why Gen Z kids are on a path to success. — adapted from jacket

A Champion’s Guide to Success in Spelling Bees : fundamentals of spelling bee competition and preparation by Ned G. Andrews (2011) – Comprehensive yet concise, A Champion’s Guide to Success in Spelling Bees is essential for any spelling bee contestant, whether serious or casual, as well as for study assistants such as parents, teachers, and tutors. By following this guidebook’s tactics and strategies, you will use every available resource – including but not limited to your time on stage, your existing knowledge, other study materials, and the effort that you will invest throughout your preparation – as effectively and efficiently as possible. — provided by the publisher

Painless Spelling by Mary Elizabeth Podhaizer (2011) – Analyzes sound and letter patterns, diphthongs, silent letters, homophones and homographs, compound and abbreviated words, contractions, prefixes, suffixes, and base words to teach spelling skills. — provided by the publisher

Spellbound (2002) – The documentary Spellbound chronicles the 1999 spelling bee season. Eight teens and pre-teens, along with their teachers and parents, are followed through daily practice, regionals and finally the televised spelling bee. This is the documentary that made me fall in love with documentaries. While it’s an oldie, it’s a goody! It is available for streaming through Kanopy or on DVD in RiverShare.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

“In Garfield’s experience, education was salvation. It had freed him from grinding poverty. It had shaped his mind, forged paths, created opportunities where once there had been none. Education, he knew, led to progress, and progress was his country’s only hope of escaping its own painful past.”
― Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

For some readers, nonfiction can be dense, hard to get through, and a way to guarantee a nap. For others, they devour every piece of nonfiction they can get their hands on. They find it riveting, engaging, and can’t wait to share little tidbits they learn with others. I find myself in the middle of those two camps, forever searching for narrative nonfiction, nonfiction that reads like fiction and pulls you into the story from the start. Author Candice Millard writes narrative nonfiction, as evidenced in her 2011 book, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.

James Abram Garfield’s rise to the presidency was extraordinary. He was born into abject poverty, becoming a scholar, Civil War hero, and then eventually a reformist congressman. Garfield was actually nominated for president against his wishes and eventually became president. The story of James Abram Garfield’s presidency is short. Four months after his inauguration, he was shot in the back at a train station by a deranged man named Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived the gunshots, but died two months later.

After Garfield was shot, the nation was destroyed. Battles were happening throughout the country and in the government. His opponents in government were fighting for control of the presidency and the future of the nation. Medical professionals were fighting over the president’s medical care. In the medical world, strides were being made in antiseptic care. This was highly controversial and sadly Garfield’s medical team weren’t believers in antiseptic care. In addition to fighting over who was in charge of his care, his team provided archaic and outdated treatments.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was desperate to help the president, as he was working on a new device that he believed would have the capability to find the bullet still lodged within Garfield’s body. However Garfield’s doctor did not trust Bell enough to examine Garfield on his own, instead saying Bell could only examine a certain part of Garfield where the team believed the bullet to be lodged. Garfield survived for 80 days after he was shot undergoing tortuous medical treatment with nary a complaint before he died of sepsis. The stunning revelation after Garfield died: his wounds were survivable if only he had received better medical care.

Millard weaves multiple threads into Destiny of the Republic: the story of the would-be assassin, the medical science, and the story of Bell’s new device among many others. The power struggles, the medical history, and the lives of those involved were intriguing. The author has clearly done her research, examining Guiteau and his motives, detailing Garfield and his family, and laying out all of the missteps the doctors took in their care. This book was well-written, weaving many threads together into a coherent story detailing many of those involved with Garfield before and after he was shot.

This title is also available in large print, Playaway audiobook, CD audiobook, a book club kit, and as single book club books.

April’s Simply Held Nonfiction Picks

Changes are coming to Simply Held starting July 1, 2024, but before that happens we wanted to share our April nonfiction picks for our patrons that are already signed up! Starting July 1, there will only be four nonfiction picks for you to choose from: biographies, cookbooks, social justice, and true crime. Our nonfiction picks are chosen quarterly and are available in regular print only. If you would like to update your selections or are a new patron who wants to receive picks from any of those four categories, sign up for Simply Held through our website!

Below you will find information provided by the publishers and authors on the titles we have selected for April from the following categories: biography, body mind spirit, cookbook, poetry, social justice, strength through struggle, and true crime.

Biography pick

John Lewis: In Search of the Beloved Community by Raymond Arsenault

For six decades John Robert Lewis (1940–2020) was a towering figure in the U.S. struggle for civil rights. As an activist and progressive congressman, he was renowned for his unshakable integrity, indomitable courage, and determination to get into “good trouble.”

In this first book-length biography of Lewis, Raymond Arsenault traces Lewis’s upbringing in rural Alabama, his activism as a Freedom Rider and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, his championing of voting rights and anti-poverty initiatives, and his decades of service as the “conscience of Congress.”

Both in the streets and in Congress, Lewis promoted a philosophy of nonviolence to bring about change. He helped the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders plan the 1963 March on Washington, where he spoke at the Lincoln Memorial. Lewis’s activism led to repeated arrests and beatings, most notably when he suffered a skull fracture in Selma, Alabama, during the 1965 police attack later known as Bloody Sunday. He was instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in Congress he advocated for racial and economic justice, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, and national health care.

Arsenault recounts Lewis’s lifetime of work toward one overarching goal: realizing the “beloved community,” an ideal society based in equity and inclusion. Lewis never wavered in this pursuit, and even in death his influence endures, inspiring mobilization and resistance in the fight for social justice. – Yale University Press

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Body, Mind, Spirit pick

An apothecary of art: to soothe your soul by Ravenous Butterflies

Take a transformative journey to improve your mental wellbeing with this sumptuous collection of 80 paintings and uplifting quotes.

Ravenous Butterflies is the online brainchild of artist Lisa Azarmi and was designed to provide a safe sanctuary for emotional wellbeing. An Apothecary of Art is a soothing blend of 80 beautiful paintings and inspiring, comforting and uplifting quotes to lift the spirit, calm the mind and heal the soul.

The contents page is artfully divided into 24 emotional journeys that suggest routes in which to navigate the book to explore different feelings along the way, and to provide comfort and solace in difficult times. Within these pages you will find both the works of world-renowned masters and the paintings of lesser-known talents paired with uplifting thoughts from great poets, writers and thinkers. A biographical section on the featured artists will provide context on your new favourite finds.

This inspiring debut collection from Ravenous Butterflies features 80 exquisite works of art from the likes of Modigliani, Hasui Kawase, and Thomas Cooper Gotch with accompanying quotes from inspirational voices including Sappho, Pablo Neruda and Harriet Tubman. This illumination of the power of art as a source of wellbeing is modern yet timelessly beautiful – the perfect book to dip into to lift your spirits. – Batsford

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Cookbook pick

The Comfort Food Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious Recipes That Taste Like Home by the Coastal Kitchen

Over 100 tasty recipes that bring comfort to your kitchen.

Relive old family traditions with meals that bring warmth to the table. These nostalgic and cozy recipes are sure to become family favorites. Whether you’re looking for quick and easy family recipes, a way to placate picky kids, dishes for dinner parties, or just want a meal that tastes like home, these comfort classics will hit the mark and soothe the soul every time.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Over 100 hassle-free recipes for cozy breakfasts, satisfying snacks and appetizers, hearty dinners, and delectable desserts
  • Quick-fix dinners for weeknights and rich meals for Sunday dinners and potlucks
  • A variety of recipes ready in 30 minutes or less that are perfect for families and busy people

Serve food you can be sure you and your family will love. Indulge your cravings with Chicken Noodle Soup, Creamy Mac N’ Cheese, Meatloaf, Lasagna, Southern Fried Chicken, Chicken Enchiladas, Roasted Sausage with Peppers and Onions, Chicken Pot Pie, Borscht, Baked Pasta, Roasted Beef Brisket, Chicken and Dumplings, Mushroom Risotto, Pad Thai, and the best Grilled Cheese Sandwich you’ll ever have. Gather your family and friends around the table with wholesome dishes you’ll cherish with The Comfort Food Cookbook. – Cider Mill Press Book Publishers

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Poetry pick

You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves edited by Diana Whitney

Created and compiled just for young women, You Don’t Have to Be Everything is filled with works by a wide range of poets who are honest, unafraid, and skilled at addressing the complex feelings of coming-of-age, from loneliness to joy, longing to solace, attitude to humor. These unintimidating poems offer girls a message of self-acceptance and strength, giving them permission to let go of shame and perfectionism.

The cast of 68 poets is extraordinary: Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, who read at Joe Biden’s inauguration; bestselling authors like Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Acevedo, Sharon Olds, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver; Instagram-famous poets including Kate Baer, Melody Lee, and Andrea Gibson; poets who are LGBTQ, poets of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, poets who sing of human experience in ways that are free from conventional ideas of femininity. Illustrated in full color with work by three diverse artists, this book is an inspired gift for daughters and granddaughters—and anyone on the path to becoming themselves. – Workman Publishing Company

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Social Justice pick

Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class by Rob Kim Henderson

Rob Henderson was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father he never met, ultimately shuttling between ten different foster homes in California. When he was adopted into a loving family, he hoped that life would finally be stable and safe. Divorce, tragedy, poverty, and violence marked his adolescent and teen years, propelling Henderson to join the military upon completing high school.

An unflinching portrait of shattered families, desperation, and determination, Troubled recounts Henderson’s expectation-defying young life and juxtaposes his story with those of his friends who wound up incarcerated or killed. He retreads the steps and missteps he took to escape the drama and disorder of his youth. As he navigates the peaks and valleys of social class, Henderson finds that he remains on the outside looking in. His greatest achievements—a military career, an undergraduate education from Yale, a PhD from Cambridge—feel like hollow measures of success. He argues that stability at home is more important than external accomplishments, and he illustrates the ways the most privileged among us benefit from a set of social standards that actively harm the most vulnerable. – Gallery Books

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Strength Through Struggle pick

A Living Remedy: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

From the bestselling author of ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW comes a searing memoir of family, class and grief—a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost.

In this country, unless you attain extraordinary wealth, you will likely be unable to help your loved ones in all the ways you’d hoped. You will learn to live with the specific, hollow guilt of those who leave hardship behind, yet are unable to bring anyone else with them.

Nicole Chung couldn’t hightail it out of her overwhelmingly white Oregon hometown fast enough. As a scholarship student at a private university on the East Coast, no longer the only Korean she knew, she found community and a path to the life she’d long wanted. But the middle class world she begins to raise a family in – where there are big homes, college funds, nice vacations – looks very different from the middle class world she thought she grew up in, where paychecks have to stretch to the end of the week, health insurance is often lacking, and there are no safety nets.

When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by diabetes and kidney disease, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of precarity and lack of access to healthcare contributed to his early death. And then the unthinkable happens – less than a year later, her beloved mother is diagnosed with cancer, and the physical distance between them becomes insurmountable as COVID-19 descends upon the world.

Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, A Living Remedy examines what it takes to reconcile the distance between one life, one home, and another – and sheds needed light on some of the most persistent and grievous inequalities in American society. – Ecco

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True Crime pick

Behold the monster: confronting America’s most prolific serial killer by Jillian Lauren

New York Times best-selling author Jillian Lauren’s personal, haunting account of confronting serial killer Samuel Little, and her determination to lift up the voices of his victims for the first time.

Jillian Lauren had no idea what she was getting into when she asked LAPD homicide detective Mitzi Roberts about the case she was most proud of. It was when she put Samuel Little, the now deceased serial killer, behind bars for killing three women in Los Angeles. In fact, Little had murdered approximately ninety women over six decades, but many were cold cases and Mitzi didn’t have enough evidence (or jurisdiction) to prove it.

After doing more digging, Lauren, the New York Times best-selling author of two memoirs and a novel, was obsessed. Following months of exchanging letters with Little, Lauren finally got a face-to-face meeting. In the hundreds of hours of interviews that followed, Little confessed to dozens of murders for the first time. Lauren knew this harrowing journey was taking its toll, both psychologically and legally—but still, she couldn’t stop.

Little gave Lauren a powerful and terrifying window into the psyche of a serial killer, and as she delved deeper, she realized she needed a way to survive these encounters. To balance out his darkness, she would illuminate the lives of the women he killed, making sure they would be remembered as more than mere props in the drama of his life. She excavated their lives—visiting their hometowns, talking to their families, investigating all they left behind.

Harrowing, insightful, and extraordinarily adept at giving Little’s victims a chance to have their stories heard for the first time–including those of the four who survived–this is a truly unforgettable read. – Jillian Lauren

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Join Simply Held to have any of the new nonfiction picks automatically put on hold for you four times a year.

She Kills Me: The True Stories of History’s Deadliest Women by Jennifer Wright, illustrated by Eva Bee

She Kills Me: The True Stories of History’s Deadliest Women by Jennifer Wright with illustrations by Eva Bee is a short book packed full of information about women killers spanning hundreds and hundreds of years. This book is a collection of macabre short stories divided into different sections of women killers.

The women in this book have murdered for a wide variety of reasons: necessity, love, revenge, or pleasure being the main four presented here. In most tales, men are expected to be the killers with women as their dainty victims. Women are hardly ever portrayed as killers, those who haunt the streets looking for victims. In fact it took years for people to even recognize that women could be serial killers. She Kills Me presents the stories of female murderers from across centuries and shows that they are messy, angry, impulsive, and deadly. We might feel icky for being pulled into their stories, but they’re fascinating. In this book, readers learn about 40 women who have murdered for a wide variety of reasons they were able to justify.

This book was a palette cleanser for me, which feels weird to say as it’s about murder. She Kills Me is by no means a complete history of these women.  As it is full of short stories, it doesn’t take much time to read, but gives just enough information if readers want to look up more about the women on their own. The author does add her own commentary, which can be distracting, but overall this serves as a good starting point and introduction to these women and their crimes.

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult

The extremely-likable Maria Bamford recounts with candor a lifetime of mental health battles in her book Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult.  Her sincere quest for wellness has passed through a number of cloistered organizations, (Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous) hence this work’s title.

If you are blessed enough to listen to this book, you’ll recognize her default state vocally as an animated Nickelodeon child.  Periodically Maria seamlessly lapses into a dozen distinct audio impressions of women with various degrees of entitlement.   Several are, yes, permutations of mother.

Maria is remarkably candid about the less-than-flattering moments from her personal life, including the hilarious as well as mortifying.  You’ll laugh at both.  Her romantic experiences from 25-50 alone warrant a checkout.  You’ve heard the standup routines.  Now meet the person.  You’ll like her quite a bit.

Interested? Download Libby, by Overdrive and find the ebook!

 

Nonfiction Books about Libraries and Librarians

In April, the American Library Association celebrates Library Appreciation Week (April 7-13). Books about libraries and told by librarians themselves hold a special place in the hearts of library staff everywhere.

Here are a few nonfiction items about librarians that you can find on the shelves of the Davenport Public Library. (Descriptions from the publisher)

The Library Book by Susan Orlean — On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.'” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library — and, if so, who?

Available in regular print, large print, and audio book on CD

Reading behind bars : a true story of literature, law, and life as a prison librarian by Jill Grunenwald — In December 2008, Jill Grunenwald graduated with her master’s degree in library science, ready to start living her dream of becoming a librarian. But the economy had a different idea and jobs were scarce. After some searching, however, Jill was lucky enough to snag one of the few librarian gigs left in her home state of Ohio. The catch? The job was behind bars as the prison librarian at a men’s minimum-security prison. Jill was forced to adapt on the spot, speedily learning to take the metal detectors, hulking security guards, and colorful inmates in stride. Over the course of nearly two years, Jill came to see past the bleak surroundings and the orange jumpsuits and recognize the humanity of the men behind bars. They were just like every other library patron–persons who simply wanted to read, to be educated and entertained through the written word. By helping these inmates, Jill simultaneously began to recognize the humanity in everyone and to discover inner strength that she never knew she had.

Available in regular print.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 : love and heartbreak in the stacks by Annie Spence — If you love to read, you know that some books affect you so profoundly they forever change the way you think about the world. Some books, on the other hand, disappoint you so much you want to throw them against the wall. Either way, it’s clear that a book can be your new soul mate or the bad relationship you need to end. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, librarian Annie Spence has crafted love letters and breakup notes to the iconic and eclectic books she has encountered over the years. From breaking up with The Giving Tree (a dysfunctional relationship book if ever there was one), to her love letter to The Time Traveler’s Wife (a novel less about time travel and more about the life of a marriage, with all of its ups and downs), Spence will make you think of old favorites in a new way. Filled with suggested reading lists, Spence’s take on classic and contemporary books is very much like the best of literature sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes surprisingly poignant, and filled with universal truths.

Available in regular print.

The Joy of Costco by David & Susan Schwartz, illustrations by Martin Hargreaves

Borne of a love of all things Costco, a husband and wife duo created their own press and were given backstage access to Costco for this casual read.    In all, they visited 200 of Costco’s 850 worldwide locations.

Skim for a couple hours, you’ll be able to amaze your friends with tidbits such as:

  • Costco parking spots are 2ft wider
  • They sell 11 million eggs per day
  • Starbucks roasts all the Kirkland brand coffee
  • Costco sells 7x as many hotdogs as all MLB ballparks combined — at $1.50 of course, a doff of the cap to the same high prevailing price from 1985.
  • The record for hotdogs, incidentally, FAR from middle America…Shin Masato Japan with 64,512 hotdog combos in one month.

Speaking of baseball, one of the coolest features of this book is the inside baseball of their internal processes and terminology, i.e. “the cage” and “deathstar”.  Costco employees are incentivized to find  ways to reduce costs, internally known as a “Save Story”.  Mere tweaks to packaging and pallets, for example, result in seismic shifts to reduce CO2 emissions and landfill waste.

Due to Costco’s sheer size, they have incredible negotiating power as an entity.  Enter CWI, (Costco Wholesale Industries), a manufacturing subsidiary solely to reduce costs on products such as glasses, hotdogs, and ground beef.  Ostensibly, this benefit is exercised to pass the value on to members.  You don’t have to have a Gold Star membership to check The Joy of Costco: A Treasure Hunt from A to Z out of our collection, either.   Heck, we won’t even check for your card at the door.

 

Stressed? Try these nonfiction titles!

Are you stressed? I can always tell trends in society based on trends in book publishing. Lately there has been an uptick in stress-busting titles at the library. This sent me down a rabbit hole of looking up stress-relief books: what’s considered a classic title and what’s new. If you’re a person like me who finds help within books, the below titles will provide practical and somewhat immediate relief to the stressful situations in your life.

As always, the titles in this list have not been talked about on the blog before. They are also owned by the Davenport Public Library, so click on the titles and put a hold on today! The descriptions have been provided by the publisher or author.

Titles published in 2023 and 2022

Awe by Dacher Keltner

From a foremost expert on the science of emotions and consultant to Pixar’s Inside Out, a groundbreaking and essential exploration into the history, science, and greater understanding of awe

Awe is mysterious. How do we begin to quantify the goose bumps we feel when we see the Grand Canyon, or the utter amazement when we watch a child walk for the first time? How do you put into words the collective effervescence of standing in a crowd and singing in unison, or the wonder you feel while gazing at centuries-old works of art? Up until fifteen years ago, there was no science of awe, the feeling we experience when we encounter vast mysteries that transcend our understanding of the world. Scientists were studying emotions like fear and disgust, emotions that seemed essential to human survival. Revolutionary thinking, though, has brought into focus how, through the span of evolution, we’ve met our most basic needs socially. We’ve survived thanks to our capacities to cooperate, form communities, and create culture that strengthens our sense of shared identity—actions that are sparked and spurred by awe.

In Awe, Dacher Keltner presents a radical investigation and deeply personal inquiry into this elusive emotion. Revealing new research into how awe transforms our brains and bodies, alongside an examination of awe across history, culture, and within his own life during a period of grief, Keltner shows us how cultivating awe in our everyday life leads us to appreciate what is most humane in our human nature. And during a moment in which our world feels more divided than ever before, and more imperiled by crises of different kinds, we are greatly in need of awe. If we open our minds, it is awe that sharpens our reasoning and orients us toward big ideas and new insights, that cools our immune system’s inflammation response and strengthens our bodies. It is awe that activates our inclination to share and create strong networks, to take actions that are good for the natural and social world around us. It is awe that transforms who we are, that inspires the creation of art, music, and religion. At turns radical and profound, brimming with enlightening and practical insights, Awe is our field guide, from not only one of the leading voices on the subject but a fellow seeker of awe in his own right, for how to place awe as a vital force within our lives. – Penguin Random House

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The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us.

“I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.” —Rick Rubin

Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.

The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us. – Penguin Random House

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Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr. Julie Smith

Drawing on years of experience as a clinical psychologist, online sensation Dr Julie Smith provides the skills you need to navigate common life challenges and take charge of your emotional and mental health in her debut book.

Filled with secrets from a therapist’s toolkit, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before teaches you how to fortify and maintain your mental health, even in the most trying of times. Dr Julie Smith’s expert advice and powerful coping techniques will help you stay resilient, whether you want to manage anxiety, deal with criticism, cope with depression, build self-confidence, find motivation, or learn to forgive yourself. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before tackles everyday issues and offers practical solutions in bite-sized, easy-to-digest entries which make it easy to quickly find specific information and guidance.

Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being. Packed with proven strategies, Dr. Julie’s empathetic guide offers a deeper understanding of how your mind works and gives you the insights and help you need to nurture your mental health every day. Wise and practical, Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before might just change your life. – HarperCollins

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The Power of Regret by Daniel H. Pink

“No regrets.” You’ve heard people proclaim it as a philosophy of life. That’s nonsense, even dangerous, says Daniel H. Pink in his latest bold and inspiring work. Everybody has regrets. They’re a fundamental part of our lives. And if we reckon with them in fresh and imaginative ways, we can enlist our regrets to make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and deepen our sense of meaning and purpose.

In The Power of Regret, Pink draws on research in psychology, neuroscience, economics, and biology to challenge widely-held assumptions about emotions and behavior. Using the largest sampling of American attitudes about regret ever conducted as well as his own World Regret Survey—which has collected regrets from more than 16,000 people in 105 countries—he identifies the four core regrets that most people have. These four regrets, Pink argues, operate as a “photographic negative” of the good life. By understanding what people regret the most, we can understand what they value the most. And by following the simple, science-based, three-step process that he sets out, we can transform our regrets in a positive force for working smarter and living better.

With Pink’s signature blend of big ideas and practical takeaways, captivating stories and crisp humor, The Power of Regret offers an urgent and indispensable guide for a life well lived. – Daniel H. Pink

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Happier Hour by Cassie Holmes

Learn how to reframe your time around life’s happiest moments to build days that aren’t just full but fulfilling with this “joyful guide” (Eve Rodsky, New York Times bestselling author) that is the antidote to overscheduling.

Our most precious resource isn’t money. It’s time. We are allotted just twenty-four hours a day, and we live in a culture that keeps us feeling “time poor.” Since we can’t add more hours to the day, how can we experience our lives as richer?

Based on her wildly popular MBA class at UCLA, Professor Cassie Holmes demonstrates how to immediately improve our lives by changing how we perceive and invest our time. Happier Hour provides empirically based insights and easy-to-implement tools that will allow you to:

-Optimally spend your hours and feel confident in those choices
-Sidestep distractions
-Create and savor moments of joy
-Design your schedule with purpose
-Look back on your years without regrets

Enlivened by Holmes’s upbeat narrative and groundbreaking research, Happier Hour “is filled with loads and loads of practical, evidence-based advice for how to live better by investing in what really matters. It’s the kind of book that can change your life for the better” (Laurie Santos, Yale professor and host of The Happiness Lab podcast). – Simon & Schuster

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Titles published in 2021 and before

Burnout by Emily Nagoski

Chatter by Ethan Kross

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer

Memento Mori by Tiitu Takalo

Content warning for this title: blood, surgery, hospitals, and depression.

The brain and how it works has always fascinated me. Lately I have been looking for information that focuses on what happens to your body and brain after your brain suffers trauma. Through my research, I found Memento Mori by Tiitu Takalo, a graphic memoir. The author suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in early December 2015 at the age of 38. One night while home alone, she had a sudden and unexpected cerebral hemorrhage, something that felt like a bad headache. Scared, she eventually made her way to the hospital where doctors and nurses rushed to find out what happened to her.

Takalo learned that she had a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, plus two others that had not ruptured yet. She needed surgery and then time in an intensive care unit. Her total recovery time would be long, but no one could give her a definite time frame or any idea of what to expect. During her recovery, Takalo found that things that came easy to her before her hemorrhage were incredibly hard for her now. When she reached out to her doctors, she wasn’t given the help she needed, forcing her to fight for the help she deserved. Her search for happiness through life and art is documented in this graphic memoir with stark honesty and compassion.

Graphic medicine is a genre of graphic memoirs that I have enjoyed recently. These stories are intriguing, insightful, and moving. I highly recommend you check out this genre of graphic medicine memoirs if you haven’t read any before.