Summer, my favorite season, is here. I’m looking forward to having some time to rest and recharge, particularly this year. I’ve experienced a lot of loss, with the passing of both of my mothers last winter. My grief has been compounded by last week’s overturn of Roe vs. Wade. I’ve selected some books for this summer’s list that have helped me to navigate these turbulent times and to stay strong. Some are serious, some are fun, some are both. Keeping a balance helps!
Contemplating Powerful Women and a Life Well-Lived
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
What a gift that Justice Sotomayor has given us by sharing the richness of her remarkable life story! She is a national treasure: smart, principled and hard working. A true role model. I thoroughly enjoyed the details she provided throughout, including the threads that connected her impoverished childhood with her desire to become a lawyer and her ultimate ascent to the Supreme Court. Her warmth and tremendous capacity for self-reflection help to explain her personal growth and her career trajectory. She also gives credit and tells wonderful stories about all of the people who guided and supported her along the way. I loved this book! (A bonus for the audiobook version is Rita Moreno’s narration – her voice is pitch perfect for this role.)
Cokie: A Live Well Lived by Steven V. Roberts
A great book for those who adored Cokie Roberts’ decades of journalism, from her steady presence on NPR to her ascendancy into broadcast television. She broke glass ceilings with strength and grace. Her deep commitment to feminism and family values is revealed in story after story of her life, told warmly by one of the people who knew her best: her husband. I loved how, even with her demanding career, she was there for her friends and family – in sickness and in health, even accompanying people as they passed away. If I’m ever in doubt, I am joining the thousands of people who ask, “What would Cokie do?”
Stories of Survival
Bright Precious Thing: Reflections on a Life Shaped by Feminism by Gail Caldwell
Gail’s beautiful memoir shares how she has navigated some of life’s toughest challenges, including mental health crises and an illegal abortion. She (and we) are indebted to the feminist movement for the progress we’ve made, as imperfect as it has been. I have nothing but admiration for her strength and her honesty. She lights the path forward.
Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience by Alison Pataki
In a time in which I’ve been grappling with so much sadness and loss (the illness and deaths of my parents), this memoir truly resonated for me. Filled with honesty about what it’s like to partner someone through a traumatic brain injury, Allison’s story is also brimming with love and her growing realization of what “living a full life” really means.
Fiction with the Truth Needed for This Moment
Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer
This book beautifully captures the agony a young mother faced to save herself and her family when abortions were illegal in the 1950s. This (and stories like it) are based on lived experience and need to be told. With Roe v Wade overturned, we risk going back to this difficult era. Sadly, this story couldn’t be timelier. May it increase our collective understanding with its heartfelt, pro-woman approach.
And…. A Beach Read
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
A humorous and heartfelt dive into that great overlapping area between love and friendship – is it one or the other, and how do you know? Take this ride (complete with escapist vacation locations) to figure it out (or remember how you did!). It reminded me of the fun I had reading Bridget Jones Diary.
P.S. I’ll be writing more about the impact of the overturn of Roe v. Wade. For now, I recommend reading (or re-reading) one of my previous booklist recommendations: Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister. Let’s go!!