• Non-Fiction

 


When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

How quickly life can change for each one of us.  Death comes to all of us.  For some, life ends abruptly, for others, like Paul Kalanithi, there is the time to open our eyes are our hearts to what is truly important, and I believe, in the end, it is the last gift we give ourselves and the ones we love.

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Man's Search for Meaning

By Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

This book is life changing!  Suffering is a part of life, whether we like it or not.  How we deal with our personal suffering can serve as an example to others.  Finding meaning in the midst of suffering, I believe, is one of God's greatest gifts.

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Starting with Why

By Simon Sinek

In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY -- the third most popular TED video of all time.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? 

Once I read Start with Why, I asked myself the question "What is my Why?"  I answered the question and wrote about it in my blog post titled, Starting with Why.  Click on the title to read about how this book helped me define my dream and desires for A Woman's Path.

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Grayson

by Lynne Cox

It was the dark of early morning; seventeen-year-old Lynne Cox was swimming her last half mile back to the pier after a long workout when she became aware that something was swimming with her. The ocean was charged with energy as if a squall was moving in; whatever it was felt large enough to be a white shark coursing beneath her body. In fact, it was a baby gray whale. Lynne quickly realized that if she swam back to the pier, the young calf would follow her to shore and die from collapsed lungs. On the other hand, if Lynne didn’t find the mother whale, the baby would suffer from dehydration and starve to death. Something so enormous—the mother whale would be at least fifty feet long—suddenly seemed very small in the vast Pacific Ocean. This is the story—part mystery, part magical tale—of what happened.

I couldn't put this book down!  I got hooked the minute the author was swimming in the deep ocean of California.  This story is filled with courage, strength, and dedication.   A great read!

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Educating Alice

Adventures of the Curious Woman

by Alice Steinbach

This funny and tender book combines three of Alice Steinbach’s greatest passions: learning, traveling, and writing. After chronicling her European journey of self-discovery in Without Reservations, this Pulitzer Prize—winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun quit her job and left home again. This time she roamed the world, taking lessons and courses in such things as French cooking in Paris, Border collie training in Scotland, traditional Japanese arts in Kyoto, and architecture and art in Havana. With warmth and wit, Steinbach guides us through the pleasures and perils of discovering how to be a student again. She also learns the true value of this second chance at educating herself: the opportunity to connect with and learn from the people she meets along the way.

I really enjoy travel books about women and Steinbach's Educating Alice, along with Without Reservations, both it the ticket!  I also recommend another book by the author,  The Miss Dennis School of Writing.  All three books are fun reads.

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Travels with Charley

In Search of America

by John Steinbeck

In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley; and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.

His course took him through almost forty states: northward from Long Island to Maine; through the Midwest to Chicago; onward by way of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (with which he fell in love), and Idaho to Seattle, south to San Francisco and his birthplace, Salinas; eastward through the Mojave, New Mexico, Arizona, to the vast hospitality of Texas, to New Orleans and a shocking drama of desegregation; finally, on the last leg, through Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to New York.

I've read many books by John Steinbeck, but this one was just plain fun!  I enjoyed traveling along with Steinbeck and his best friend, discovering America his way!!

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A Walk in the Woods

Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

by Bill Bryson

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes—and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there's the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz's overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson's acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.

I love Bill Bryson!  He is my favorite travel writer.  He is funny, he gets into funny situations, but he is also very informative, when it comes to travel.  If you enjoy travel, be sure and read one of Bryson's many books.  Here are a few that I've really enjoyed:   In A Sunburned Nation,   I'm a Stranger Here Myself,  Neither Here Nor There,  and   A Short History of Almost Everything.

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The Total Makeover

by Dave Ramsey

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The Total Money Makeover.

By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this—it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies. 

If you carry debt, this is a great resource for getting out of debt for good.  Ramsey's personal story proves that you can, with discipline, live a debt-free life.

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Codependent No More

by Melody Beattie

Is someone else's problem your problem? If, like so many others, you've lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else's, you may be codependent--and you may find yourself in this book--Codependent No More.The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America's best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the key to understanding codependency and to unlocking its stultifying hold on your life.

With instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests, Codependent No More is a simple, straightforward, readable map of the perplexing world of codependency--charting the path to freedom and a lifetime of healing, hope, and happiness.

I found this book very helpful when I realized I needed help in this area of my life.  

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Letter to My Daughter

by Maya Angelou

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.

Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family. 

Maya Angelou touched so many lives and this book is a letter to many of the women who crossed her path.

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