Bomb Shelter [Book Review] and I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet [Book Review] #Essay #Memoir #MentalHealth

May 13, 2022

Two Memoirs/Essays: Bomb Shelter and I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet #MentalHealthWeek

Memoir Reviews (collage of two covers)

Two reviews today!

My favorite memoirs/essays are ones where I can glean something useful for my own life….where I can make a connection….where I can acquire insight and understanding of particular challenges and struggles. I think these two titles are perfect for sharing during May’s focus on Mental Health Awareness. While one (I Haven’t Learned That Yet) mentions faith, both are poignant, transparent, and honest reflections on life’s challenges.

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott

Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott (cover) Image: yellow text and a large turtle against a pinkish red background

Genre: Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essay, Self-Help, Self-Reflection, Anxiety, Humor

My Summary:

Mary Laura Philpott is a self-proclaimed “optimistic worrier” or “anxious optimist.” This tendency intensified when she became a parent and believed that if she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe. One day, her teenage son experienced a seizure and she began to worry about what else could happen? How do you keep going and continue loving and caring when you don’t know what will happen next?

My Thoughts:

I imagine most of us have experienced that feeling of helplessness and anxiety and worry over the ones for whom we are responsible. I know I have. In fact, if you are a fan of the NBC drama This is Us, a scene in one episode touched me profoundly. Randall is at the cabin working and has visions/imaginary conversations with Jack about his anger toward Rebecca for keeping the truth about his bio father from him…..Jack encourages Randall to see the situation from Rebecca’s perspective. Through the window, Randall glimpses a frantic Rebecca closing and locking all the windows and doors in an effort to keep her family safe. So moving. A perfect picture of how I felt as a parent of a growing family…..so many worries and dangers to keep at bay.

“It’s true. There will always be threats lurking under the water where we play, danger hiding in the attic and rolling down the street on heavy wheels, unexpected explosions in our brains and our hearts and the sky. There will always be bombs, and we will never be able to save everyone we care about. To know that and to try anyway is to be fully alive. The closest thing to shelter we can offer anyone is LOVE, as deep and wide and as in as many forms as we can give it.

Philpott shares honestly how her anxiety was triggered as a parent. Isn’t it helpful knowing others have felt the same? Experienced the same? I think the book is relatable for parents or anyone who experiences episodes of anxiety or worry.

Philpott’s writing style and reflections are conversational, engaging, mostly light-hearted, and sprinkled with humor.

Recommended for anyone who experiences anxiety and/or worries.

Content Considerations: epilepsy, anxiety

My Rating: 4 Stars.

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I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working by Shauna Niequist

I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet by Shauna Niequist (cover) Image: colorful text against a white background

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essays, Self-Help, Self-Reflection, Grief, Faith, New Beginnings

My Summary:

Shauna Niequist’s carefully and thoughtfully cultivated life as she knows it falls apart after her fortieth birthday. What do you do when your entire life has revolved around your father’s church and your life-long, close-knit community of family and friends all collapse when your father is accused of inappropriate behaviors at his mega-church and resigns (not detailed). What happens when the happy and secure life in the mid-west you’ve dreamed of and carefully built falls apart around you? Well….you might move to Manhattan and rethink everything.

My Thoughts:

I suspect most of us can relate to a life that isn’t at all what we expected or dreamed about. We may face unexpected financial problems, toxic relationships, family disappointments, broken friendships, health concerns, etc. What then? What happens when all you want to do is quit? Does everything fall apart or can we learn to live in a new way, make adjustments, gain new perspectives, forgive, show compassion, navigate heartbreak and grief, and accept unknowns? Can we rebuild, refocus, and retool?

“…Life is…interconnected and multifaceted. We carry around our whole selves…our past and our parents, our loves and our limitations our dreams and our grocery lists, and our wounds.”

I need to note:

  • Not all of us have the option of relocating and starting a new life, have access to vacation homes, or can take a year off work to pull ourselves together. Nevertheless, she has some good things to share!
  • Some readers are frustrated that Niequest never shares the nature of the issue with her father and the church that motivated her memoir. Her intentional vagueness is out of respect for her father’s privacy….and really the issue is her dad’s to write about….she’s sharing how her life changed and how she adjusted to those changes as a result of what happened. I had followed the news story when it came out, so her vagueness didn’t bother me. He’s easy to google if you’re interested (Bill Hybels).

Recommended for anyone who is facing a life change.

My Rating:  4 Stars

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Meet the Authors, Mary Laura Philpott and Shauna Niequist

Author Mary Laura PhilpottMary Laura Philpott is the author of I Miss You When I Blink, the nationally bestselling memoir-in-essays, as well as Bomb Shelter, forthcoming in 2022. Her writing has been featured frequently by The New York Times and also appears in such outlets as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Paris Review Daily, O The Oprah Magazine, and Real Simple. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

For more information, visit http://www.MaryLauraPhilpott.com

Author Shauna NiequistShauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine, Savor, and Present Over Perfect.

She is married to Aaron, and they live in Manhattan with their sons, Henry & Mac.

Shauna is a bookworm, a beach bum, and a passionate gatherer of people, especially around the table.



QOTD:

Do you love memoirs? Are these titles on your TBR or have you read one or both?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

These Precious Days [Book Review]

March 11, 2022

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (cover) Image: a watercolor picture of a small dog lying on top of a soft chair or sofa

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essay Collection, Reflection

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

These Precious Days is a collection of personal essays and reflections from popular author, Ann Patchett. These essays explore home, family and fathers, marriage, friendships, meaning and purpose, love and death, life decisions, and writing.

“…find joy…and make good use of the days we have”

My Thoughts:

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Born a Crime [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday #BlackHistoryMonth

February 3,  2022

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
#ThrowBackThursday
#BlackHistoryMonth

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover)

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, Memoir, South Africa

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling memoir, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

“Trevor Noah’s life in Apartheid South Africa began with a crime. He was born to a white father and a black Xhosa mother. This had to be kept a secret because the relationship was punishable by five years in prison. In a racially divided country, Trevor spent most of his early childhood living behind closed doors because his light color would certainly give away the circumstances of his birth and place his parents (who were living separately) in danger. If the government discovered the circumstances of his birth, they could even take him away from his mother. At the end of Apartheid and later in his childhood, Trevor Noah faced the challenge of deciding with which group he would identify: white, black, or colored (mixed). He felt like an outsider for most of his childhood and young adult years. Trevor enjoyed a close relationship with his risk-taking, rebellious, and spiritual mother. He was intuitive and street smart but also incredibly mischievous. The essays that document his coming of age are humorous, insightful, honest, and at times disturbing.”

Compelling, humorous, gritty, and inspiring…

Continue here for my full review of Born a Crime…



QOTD:

Have you read Born a Crime or is it on your TBR?

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, and the Making of a Family [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday #NonficNov

November 18, 2021

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom
#throwbackthursday

Finding Chika Review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, Memoir, Haiti, Foster Guardianship, Found Family, Inspiration

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a poignant found family memoir, Finding Chika by Mitch Albom.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, and the Making of a Family, Mitch Albom, well-known author of Tuesdays With Morrie, shares his life-changing experience of caring for Chika, a young Haitian orphan. She was born a few days before the devastating 2010 earthquake into a poverty-stricken family. When her mother died after giving birth to her baby brother, Dad found placements for all their children. Chika was brought to the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Mitch Albom operates in Port Au Prince. After five-year-old Chika was diagnosed with a medical condition that was untreatable in Haiti, the Alboms brought Chika to America to live with them while seeking medical intervention. Instead of returning to Haiti as planned, Chika and the Alboms become found family, and Mitch learns a great deal about caring for a special needs child, the definition of family, unconditional love, loss, and grief.”

“Families are like pieces of art. You can make them from almost anything. The only ingredient you need to make a family is unconditional love.”

“What we carry defines who we are. And the effort we make is our legacy.” ~Mitch Albom

Continue here for my full review of Finding Chika



QOTD:

Have you read Finding Chika or is it on your TBR?

 

Nonfiction Books: 15 Favorite Memoir/Biography #NonficNov

November 17, 2021

Nonfiction: Memoir/Biography #NonficNov

Nonfiction November poster (text in white against a green background against colorful fall leaves)

I’m eager to participate in Nonfiction November this year hosted by What’s Nonfiction, Doing Dewey, The Thousand Book Project, Plucked from the Stacks, and OCBookgirl. During the month of November, you will notice one nonfiction focused post each week:

Weekly Topics:
(Join us?)

Week 1: (November 1-5) – My Year in Nonfiction (with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction)

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing with Katie at Doing Dewey

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert with Veronica at The Thousand Book Project

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks

Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at OCBookgirl

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Nonfiction: Memoirs & Biographies

Nonfiction November is an opportunity to reflect on the year, to celebrate and appreciate nonfiction, and to share recommendations.

Playing The Expert: Today for Nonfiction November hosted by Veronica @ The Thousand Book Project, I am playing “the expert” and sharing books in a subgenre that I have read and highly recommend. These are my favorite memoir/biography recommendations. I chose them because they each share a personal story and help build my understanding of a specific life experience. Each one has affected me in a personal way. With only two exceptions, today’s list draws heavily from my original 2020 post. Do you have a favorite memoir or biography?

Please join me for Nonfiction November!

15 Favotite Memoirs & Biographies for #NonFicNov (Image: text over a tall stack of books on a blue painted wooden table)

Background Image Source: Canva

15 Favorite Memoirs and Biographies:

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

(My review of Girl With Seven Names here)

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (cover)

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

(My review of The Choice here)

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger (cover) Image: black text on a white background and a black stemmed reddish flower is placed on the entire left margin

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A young readers version of Born a Crime here.

(My review of Born a Crime here.)

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover) Image: a casual Trevor Noah

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton

(My review of Dolly Parton, Songteller here)

Dolly Parton, Songteller Icover) by Dolly Parton (Image: a portrait of Dolly Parton in a round portrait frame)

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

(My review of Finding Chika here)

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom (cover)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

(My review of Wait Till Next Year here)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (cover) Image: an old professional baseball stadium

Open by Andre Agassi

(My review of Open here)

Open by Andre Agassi (cover) Image: a head shot of Andre Agassi

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy movie here.

(My review of Just Mercy here)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson cover

Unbroken: A WW11 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken movie and YA version here.

(Not reviewed because I read this before I started blogging or Goodreads)

Unbroken

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle movie.

(My review of Glass Castle here)

Glass Castle

Educated by Tara Westover

(My review of Educated here)

Educated by Tara Westover (cover) Image: a giant sharpened pencil as background

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

Tattoos on the Heart

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

The Bonhoeffer movie.

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (cover)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (childhood memoir) (MG)

(My review of Brown Girl Dreaming here)

Brown Girl Dreaming

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis (The Three Doctors) (MG)

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

we beat the street



Related:

ICYMI: Here’s my post for “Playing the expert” two years ago: Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Here’s my memoir post from last year (which is only updated slightly for this year’s post)



QOTD:

See any favorites?

Have you read one of these titles?

I know you can help me add to this list! If my husband had helped with this list he would include titles by Ron Chernow for sure! Here, here, and here.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for a favorite memoir or biography.



Happy Reading Book Friends!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© WWW.ReadingLadies.com

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics [Book Review] #NonfictionNovember #NovFicNov

November 12, 2021

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton, Songteller by Dolly Parton (cover) Image: a portrait of Parton in a round frame against a light blue background

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Country Music

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Working 9-5 …. Jolene …. I’ll Will Always Love You …. Islands In the Stream duet with Kenny Rogers…. Coat of Many Colors …. what’s your favorite Dolly Parton song?
Enjoy this sampler from Youtube while you read my review!

My Summary:

Dolly Parton, Songteller is a celebration of a career in country music and a peek into the story behind the lyrics of a couintry music legend. Parton highlights 175 of her songs (singing some lyrics of each and narrated by Dolly herself if you have the audio version), and she shares some behind-the-scenes of each one, a few personal stories, and provides never-before-seen pictures (if you have the print version). A perfect read/listen for a country music fan or music lover.

My Thoughts:

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Crying in H Mart [Book Review]

October 1, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (cover) black and white text on a red backbround

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Korean-American, Grief, Mothers/Daughters, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Michelle Zauner shares about her Korean-American family, her childhood and young adult years, bonding over food, her relationship with her mother, and the grief of losing her mother to cancer.

My Thoughts:

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Open by Andre Agassi [Book Review]

March 12, 2021

Open by Andre Agassi

Open by Andre Agassi (cover) Image: a head shot of Andre Agassi

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Sports

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Have you discovered the secret of life?

Have you ever played tennis or watched a professional match?

a tennis racket and two tennis balls lying on the tennis court

My Summary:

Andre Agassi is a celebrated professional tennis player. Andre was groomed and driven into the sport from a young age by his demanding and emotionally abusive father. Andre won his first grand slam at the age of twenty-two and his memoir traces the ups and downs of his sports career as well as his relationships with Barbara Streisand, Brook Shields, and Steffi Graf. From his memoir, we also gain insights into his ultimate pursuit of philanthropy and the creation of the Andre Agassi College Prep Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Tennis pro, Andre Agassi holding a racket waiting for a serve

My Thoughts:

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The Answer is … Reflections On My Life [Book Review]

January 22, 2021

The Answer is … Reflections On My Life by Alex Trebek

The Answer is ... Reflections On My Life by Alex Trebek (cover) Image: a head shot of Alex Trebek

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Since 1984, Alex Trebek has been the beloved and respected host of Jeopardy! Last year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and received an outpouring of support from fans. In response, Trebek felt compelled to write the story of his life and career highlights. As might be expected, each chapter title is in the form of a question.

My Thoughts:

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Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story [Book Review]

December 18, 2020

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel

Never Broken by Jewel (cover) Image: Barefoot Jewel is dressed in a full skirted orange summery dress and sitting bareback on a black horse

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biographical, Music

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are You Old Enough to be a Jewel Fan?

Summary:

Never Broken meets Educated meets The Glass Castle meets Hillbilly Elegy….

In Never Broken, poet and singer-songwriter Jewel shares her unconventional childhood, her rise to fame, her marriage, and her musical journey. In her younger years, she lived on a homestead in Alaska, learned to yodel at three, and sang with her father in hotels, honky-tonks, and biker bars. Even though the family valued creativity and music, there was also trauma and instability. Jewel left home to live on her own at age 15. The following years took her to a private performing arts school in Michigan (applying for a scholarship and financing her own transportation). By eighteen, she had hitchhiked across the country, was homeless (living in her car), writing poetry, and playing in coffee shops in San Diego to support herself. A local D.J. played one of her songs, and at twenty-one, she had a following and a debut album which went multiplatinum. From there, we hear her story of complicated family, financial difficulties, insecurities, fear, survival, the breakup of her marriage, and deep heartache over the estrangement from her mother. She also shares poetry and the audio version features some singing. There’s more in the story (including Jewel’s own heartfelt advice) that can’t be covered in a brief summary.

My Thoughts:

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