Category: Health & Personal Development

One of the Weirdest Medical Journals Ever Written Is Available Online

Using pseudo-science instead of actual medical expertise to cure people of illnesses isn’t anything new. This kind of thing was commonplace in ancient times due to the lack of knowledge of the human body during this period. Research from Cambridge sheds light on one of the earliest examples of ancient medicine.

A journal written by Simon Forman, a London-based medical practitioner from the 1600s, and his protege Richard Napier details some of strange methods they took to curing patients of diseases. A known alchemist, Forman usually resorted to “elixirs” or “purges” to people searching for treatment for their deteriorating mental or physical health. Astrology was also a go-to for Forman, with Napier looking to “angles” for the answers he and Foreman couldn’t find.

 

Simon Forman. Image Via Wikipedia

 

The journal itself isn’t something that was recently discovered, but Professor Lauren Kassell of Cambridge’s history and philosophy of science department stated that the process of deciphering the journal took a decade:

 

“Napier produced the bulk of preserved cases, but his penmanship was atrocious and his records super messy. Forman’s writing is strangely archaic, like he’d read too many medieval manuscripts. These are notes only intended to be understood by their authors.”

 

You can read the cases and other transcripts here.

 

 

Featured Image Via Techly

These 5 Novels About Gender Will Change the Way You Think

The way in which we think about, discuss, and perceive gender is one of the most important and ongoing revolutions in our society today, and we’re all currently living in a significant historical period. Naturally, this shift in public consciousness is reflected in the art that is being produced. (And what’s more revolutionary than art?) So, without further ado, here are five powerful novels that will change the way you think about gender and the world in which we’re living.

 

1. The Book of Flora by Meg Elison

 

The Book of Flora against gold background
Image Via Amazon

Set in post-apocalyptic San Francisco, the final installment in Elison’s Road to Nowhere trilogy has delighted even the harshest of critics. Publishers Weekly notes in their starred review that The Book of Flora “widens its scope from reproductive rights to gender binaries and the consequences of stories.” Locus Magazine agrees, stating that “what sets the Road to Nowhere trilogy apart from other literary pandemics is how Elison centers her story around reproductive rights, gender identity, and sexuality.” And (though we’d never spoil!) its ending is one for the ages. Booklist says “its shocking conclusion will leave readers reeling and rethinking what they know about gender identity and trauma.”

In the Bookstr office, we were awed by The Book of Flora, a feminist dystopia unlike any other we’ve read. You can see our reaction here! It makes the top of our list because of how Elison explores themes of feminism, LGBTQ+ people’s rights, women’s rights, and the commodification and governmental control of women’s bodies over the course of the novel. Through the lens of expertly crafted dystopia, and a brilliant protagonist in Flora, Meg Elison showcases her incredible talent, and this book is proof of that.

In this Philip K. Dick Award–winning series, one woman’s unknowable destiny depends on a bold new step in human evolution.

In the wake of the apocalypse, Flora has come of age in a highly gendered post-plague society where females have become a precious, coveted, hunted, and endangered commodity. But Flora does not participate in the economy that trades in bodies. An anathema in a world that prizes procreation above all else, she is an outsider everywhere she goes, including the thriving all-female city of Shy.

Now navigating a blighted landscape, Flora, her friends, and a sullen young slave she adopts as her own child leave their oppressive pasts behind to find their place in the world. They seek refuge aboard a ship where gender is fluid, where the dynamic is uneasy, and where rumors flow of a bold new reproductive strategy.

When the promise of a miraculous hope for humanity’s future tears Flora’s makeshift family asunder, she must choose: protect the safe haven she’s built or risk everything to defy oppression, whatever its provenance.

2. The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

 

'The House of Impossible Beauties' by Joseph Cassara
Image Via Amazon

 

Named a Recommended Book of 2018 by Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal, The Millions, Southern Living,  Bustle, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Nylon, Mashable, Library Journal and Thrillist, and dubbed “vividly imagined” by The New York Times Book Review, Joseph Cassara’s The House of Impossible Beauties became an instant classic of its genre when published last year. Exploring the life of a transgender teenager (based on Angie Xtravaganza) who falls in love and creates a space for themselves, the novel inspired one NYT reviewer to gush about how “you are… struck by the Xtravaganza’s strength and determination, by their vibrant spirits and humor, by their creativity, by their sensitivity to beauty and their capacity to give and receive love.” And while multiple reviews praise the novel’s vibrancy and vigor, Nami Mun, author of Miles From Nowhereobserves that “underneath the grime and glitter, The House of Impossible Beauties is quietly about necessity and defiance, about love and death, about characters who ache to be alive and seen in a world that mirrors back nothing but rejection and violence.”

 

It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.

 

3. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

 

Image Via Amazon

 

 

Winner of the American Library Association Gay & Lesbian Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award, this novel, first published in 1993, was a groundbreaking work of gender exploration. Set in the often repressive 1950s, the novel follows Jess, whose parents have sent her to a psychiatric institution after catching her trying on her father’s clothes. Publishers Weekly called it “compelling,” while Book Riot dubbed it “a classic novel that explores butch identity and the blurred lines between masculine and feminine.” Alison Bechdel says, “Stone Butch Blues has probably touched your life even if you haven’t read it yet,” while the Village Voice credits Feinberg with giving ‘the word ‘transgender’ legs.” Perhaps it’s time to use yours (legs, that is) to head to your local bookstore and grab a copy of a novel that will forever change your perception.

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgender existence.

Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue–collar town in the 1950’s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist ’60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early ’70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence.

Leslie Feinberg is also the author of Trans LiberationTrans Gender Warriors and Transgender Liberation, and is a noted activist and speaker on transgender issues.

 

4. WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE

 

Image Via Goodreads

 

Winner of the 2016 Tiptree Award, longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and recipient of the Stonewall Book Award Honor, as well as a Kirkus Best Book of 2016, and a Booklist Editor’s Choice McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours “explores gender with magical realism and carefully researched cultural markers.” Booklist notes that McLemore’s sophomore novel “mixes fairy-tale ingredients with the elegance of a love story, with all of it rooted in a deeply real sense of humanity” while Publishers Weekly says, “readers interested in gender identity and the pull of family and history will find this to be an engrossing exploration of these and other powerful themes.”

 

McLemore delivers a second stunning and utterly romantic novel, again tinged with magic.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Atmospheric, dynamic, and packed with gorgeous prose, When the Moon was Ours is another winner from this talented author.

 

5. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

 

 

 

In their starred review, Kirkus called Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl “groundbreaking, shape—and genre—shifting work from a daring writer; a fresh novel that elevates questions of sexual identity and intimacy,” while The New Yorker notes that Lawlor’s novel “explor[es] the malleability of gender and desire.” Dubbed by Foreword in their starred review as “…a hilarious, original, gender-fluid novel replete with 1990s cachet, sex, and queer identity,” Paul… is hailed as “a new benchmark for gender-nonconforming literature.”

 

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco–a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early ’90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

Top Nonfiction Books: Self-Development

Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just so we can ensure consistent, high-quality recommendations. This week’s nonfiction picks center around the theme of self development books, showcasing how you can improve your health, quality of life, and more with these great reads. What are they? Let’s dive in and take a look!

 

5. Maybe you should talk to someone by Lori Gottlieb

 

The cover to a self help book with a box of Kleenex

image via Amazon

Mental health is hard to stay on top of these days. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. Gottlieb is a famous psychotherapist who one day has a complete mental breakdown and has to seek the help of another therapist, a quirky but helpful man named Wendell. As she struggles to understand her own life and those of her patients, she seeks Wendell’s aid behind the scenes of her own life, overcoming her inner struggles with warm, wit, and humor. This is a feel-good book that showcases the important of speaking to someone and showcasing how burying your mental troubles does nothing to help you.

 

4. Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

 

Image via Amazon

Lessons From Lucy by Dave Barry showcases how to deal with the lessons of old age as Dave Barry deals with depression in old age by turning to his dog, Lucy, for help in living his best life. He learns lessons from her simplistic worldview to inform his own, such as “Making New Friends”, “Don’t Stop Having Fun”, and more. Dave makes his POV world very relatable, informative, and hilarious as he navigates the obstacles before him, always with his faithful companion by his side, with lessons to take for your own life.

 

3. Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

 

A woman sips a bottle of soda against a blue backdrop

Image via Amazon

Next Level Basic is the perfect self-help book for millennials, helping to define yourself as the person you are rather than someone who has to defend their own choices of style or interests. Publicly love yourself for the basic things you cherish, such as lattes, pugs, millennial style of clothes, hot dogs, and chick flicks. Embrace your basic side and don’t let anyone tell you you have to be something you’re not. Be basic and be proud!

 

2. Finding quiet: The story of overcoming anxiety and the practices that brought peace by J.P. MOreland

 

A boat sits on a pristine lake under a tree in a sea of white

Image via Amazon

Anxiety is a common problem plaguing us nowadays. This work tackles the difficult subject head on and centers around author J.P. Moreland. A prominent author, professor, and philosopher, he awoke one night to a severe panic attack. For more than decade, Moreland struggled with mental illness, battling panic attacks and depression throughout his life. Now, he’s managed to deal with his mental troubles and wants to help those who suffer from similar mental problems, calling upon his own methods that help calm himself to showcase to the reading audience. Sometimes brutally honest but always nurturing and helpful, this book offers solutions to managing mental illness and shows anyone suffering from it they aren’t alone.

 

1. Everything is F*cked: A book about hope by Mark Manson

 

A book with a blue backdrop, no other images on it

Image via Amazon

Hope is hard to find in today’s times. Everything seems to be falling apart, with the government failing, the planet’s changing climate, and the economy seems on the verge of collapse. Everyone is more connected than ever but we simply can’t get over the perpetual idea that society is failing. Everything seems doomed. Author Mark Manson tries to offer a guiding hand, defining our relationship to technology, our own flaws, and finding hope it what seems to be a dark world. Mixing his well educated, well researched erudite manner of speech with often blunt and crazy humor, Manson defies us to find hope in our time and challenges us to make changes to make us happier, even if it’s very hard. This is a blunt exploration of the world today and allows us to find happiness even with the craziness of modern life.

 

 

Featured Image Via Amazon

5 Amazing LGBTQ Books to Honor Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary

2019 marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous riots between the LGBT community and the NYPD in response to law enforcement raids on LGBTQ clubs and spaces.   Marcia P. Johnson famously threw the first brick at Stonewall, which is considered the most important event in the struggle for LGBTQ rights and acceptance in the USA.

 

To celebrate half a century since this historic event and to celebrate the work of the many LGBTQIA+ artists, activists, and advocates that have brought so much to the fight for equality, we’ve put together a list of five amazing books by LGBTQI+ authors coming out this year for you to look forward to.

 

1. The fourth courier by timothy jay smith

 

The Fourth Courier book cover
Image Via Goodreads

Publishers Weekly says that Timothy Jay Smith’s latest novel, The Fourth Courier, possesses “Sharply drawn characters, rich dialogue, and a clever conclusion bode well for any sequel.” Booklist notes how “Smith skillfully bridges police procedural and espionage fiction, crafting a show-stealing sense of place and realistically pairing the threats of underworld crime and destabilized regimes.” Timothy Jay Smith is a proud member of the LGBTQ community, who is passionate about exploring these themes in his work, which has garnered him countless accolades. His book Fire on the Island was the winner of the 2017 the Gold Medal in the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel. Smith also won the Paris Prize for Fiction for his debut work, A Vision of Angels.  Smith has also been nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize for short fiction, and his screenplays have won numerous international competitions, as well as holding the title of founder of the Smith Prize for Political Theater. Phew!

 

On the 30th anniversary of the victory of Solidarity in Poland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, comes a riveting new novel set in Poland on the brink of change, THE FOURTH COURIER .

Smith sets his novel in 1992 in post-cold war Poland, where nothing is quite as it seems. When three execution-style murders take place in Warsaw, FBI Special Agent Jay Porter is assigned to help with the investigation, suspecting that the three victims may have been couriers hired to smuggle nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union.

When Jay learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has also disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, THE FOURTH COURIER teams up an FBI agent with a gay CIA officer who uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.

2. IN SEARCH OF STONEWALL: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25, Best Essays, 1994-2018. a collection of essays edited by Richard Schneider Jr.

 

Book cover for In Search of Stone Wall showing two rainbows of NYC
Image Via Goodreads

 

The San Francisco Chronicle “highly” recommends this compilation of essays on the Stonewall Riots and their effect on society, as well as celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, calling In Search of Stonewall “an important addition to the literature about the LGBT movement and more: this is a selection of excellent writings by significant authors who helped shape history. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of LGBT rights, and the perfect book to celebrate the anniversary of this monumental event.

 

The year was 1994. It was the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and, as luck would have it, the year in which a new magazine called The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review was publishing its first issue (Winter ’94). The fact that The G&LR’s first year coincided with Stonewall’s 25th forever joined its fate with that of the founding event of the modern LGBT movement. This book commemorates the magazine’s 25th birthday with a collection of relevant articles culled from its 136 issues.

The list of contributors includes: Dennis Altman, David B. Boyce, Michael Bronski, Frank Browning, David Carter, John D’Emilio, Steven F. Dansky, Michael Denneny, Martin Duberman, Lilian Faderman, D. Gilson, Eve Goldberg, Jewelle Gomez, Harry Hay, Amy Hoffman, Andrew Holleran, Karla Jay, Jill Johnston, Arnie Kantrowitz, Dolores Klaich, Larry Kramer, Toby Marotta, Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, Felice Picano, John Rechy, Will Roscoe, Ellen Shumsky, Bob Smith, Timothy Stewart-Winter, Martha Stone, Edmund White.

 

3. Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

 

Sissy book cover
Image Via Bust

 

Named a Most Anticipated Book by HelloGiggles, PopSugar, SheReads, A.V. Club, Pride.com, The Daily Utah Chronicle, Read It Forward, Ms. Magazine, and EligibleSissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story has been garnering rave reviews from every lucky soul who has got their hands on it. Tyler Oakley dubs it it “Sensational“, Good Morning American calls Jacob Tobia “a force,” while TIME calls him ‘a necessary voice”. The Washington Post says the book is “a valuable dispatch from a new generation of queer activists and artists.”

A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.

From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.

From Jacob’s Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissy guarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s and your own–the same way again.

4. Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by John Glynn

 

Book cover for Out East
Image Via Goodreads

 

I would trust basically anything author of phenomenon Call Me By Your Name Andre Aciman says, and trust him I do, when he says the following regarding Glynn’s coming-out memoir: “This boisterous chronicle of a summer in Montauk sees a group of twenty-something housemates who’ll grow to know, to love, and care for one another. They work hard during the week, party hard on weekends, and each will face heartthrob and heartbreak. A coming out story told with feeling and humor and above all with the razor-sharp skill of a delicate and highly gifted writer.” Out East is released May 19th.

 

They call Montauk the end of the world, a spit of land jutting into the Atlantic. The house was a ramshackle split-level set on a hill, and each summer thirty one people would sleep between its thin walls and shag carpets. Against the moonlight the house’s octagonal roof resembled a bee’s nest. It was dubbed The Hive.

In 2013, John Glynn joined the share house. Packing his duffel for that first Memorial Day Weekend, he prayed for clarity. At 27, he was crippled by an all-encompassing loneliness, a feeling he had carried in his heart for as long as he could remember. John didn’t understand the loneliness. He just knew it was there. Like the moon gone dark.

OUT EAST is the portrait of a summer, of the Hive and the people who lived in it, and John’s own reckoning with a half-formed sense of self. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, The Hive was a center of gravity, a port of call, a home. Friendships, conflicts, secrets and epiphanies blossomed within this tightly woven friend group and came to define how they would live out the rest of their twenties and beyond. Blending the sand-strewn milieu of George Howe Colt’s The Big House, the radiant aching of Olivia Liang’s The Lonely City, OUT EAST is a keenly wrought story of love and transformation, longing and escape in our own contemporary moment.

5. Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman

 

Willa and Hesper book cover
Image Via Goodreads

 

Kirkus Reviews has called Feltman’s debut a “deep and intimate portrait of two queer women in their mid-twenties who come of age in New York while navigating—or refusing to navigate—their relationships to privilege, family, identity, and faith….”, noting that is is “a moving glimpse into 21st-century queer womanhood.” Publishers Weekly declare it a “thoughtful and fascinating debut,” in which Feltman “skillfully weaves glimmers of hope and healing throughout, making for a keenly perceptive novel.” Check out the synopsis:

For fans of What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, a soul-piercing debut that explores the intertwining of past and present, queerness, and coming of age in uncertain times.

Willa’s darkness enters Hesper’s light late one night in Brooklyn. Theirs is a whirlwind romance until Willa starts to know Hesper too well, to crawl into her hidden spaces, and Hesper shuts her out. She runs, following her fractured family back to her grandfather’s hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, looking for the origin story that he is no longer able to tell. But once in Tbilisi, cracks appear in her grandfather’s history-and a massive flood is heading toward Georgia, threatening any hope for repair.

Meanwhile, heartbroken Willa is so desperate to leave New York that she joins a group trip for Jewish twentysomethings to visit Holocaust sites in Germany and Poland, hoping to override her emotional state. When it proves to be more fraught than home, she must come to terms with her past-the ancestral past, her romantic past, and the past that can lead her forward.

Told from alternating perspectives, and ending in the shadow of Trump’s presidency, WILLA & HESPER is a deeply moving, cerebral, and timely debut

Clocks

5 Books to Remind You It’s Never Too Late

It’s easy to forget that time isn’t running out. It’s passing, obviously, but that really isn’t the same thing. There’s a long list of things we collectively think time is running out to accomplish—love, success, meaning.  This month, we’ve selected five books to remind you that you’re fully capable of challenging yourself in ways you have never been challenged (That’s the good kind of challenge, by the way. The personal development kind. It’s not the kind of challenge where you try and see how much frozen pizza you can eat without literally dying, which is to say, more than would be helpful. Spoken from experience.)  Whether their dream was professional, personal, or more abstract (think ‘to touch the lives of others’), these authors will remind you that happiness doesn’t come with a time limit.

Here are five new and upcoming releases to remind you that it’s not too late (yes, not even now).

 

1. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

'Let Your Mind Run' Deena Kastor

 

From an Olympic medalist runner and the record-holder in the women’s marathon and half-marathon, a vividly inspirational memoir on using positive psychology and brain science to achieve unparalleled athletic success 

The day Deena Kastor became a truly elite runner was the day she realized that she had to ignore her talent–it had taken her so far, but only conquering the mental piece could unlock higher levels of achievement. In Let Your Mind Run, the vaunted Olympic medalist and marathon and half-marathon record holder, will reveal how she incorporated the benefits of positive psychology into her already-dedicated running practice, setting her on a course to conquer women’s distance running. Blending both narrative running insights and deep-dive brain science, this book will appeal to and motivate steadfast athletes, determined runners, and tough-as-nails coaches, and beyond.
This memoir, written by perhaps the most famous American woman active in the competitive world of distance running, will appeal to the pragmatic athletic population, and jointly to fans of engaging sports narratives, inspirational memoirs, and uplifiting biographies.

 

2. Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race

 

'Rough Magic' Lara Prior Palmer

 

For fans of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, this is the extraordinary debut memoir of a young woman who traveled to Mongolia to compete in the world’s longest, toughest horse race, and emerged as its youngest and first-ever female winner.

At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”—an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her.

Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families.

Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their Jeeps.

Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.

 

3. I Miss You When You Blink: Essays

 

'I Miss You When You Blink' Mary Laura Philpott

 

Acclaimed essayist and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott presents a charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on her successful life’s to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself. 

Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.

But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right,” but she felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?

In this memoir-in-essays full of spot-on observations about home, work, and creative life, Philpott takes on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood with wit and heart. She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife; reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary; and advises that if you’re going to faint, you should get low to the ground first. Most of all, Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down and set off on a transcontinental hike (unless you want to, of course). You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?

Like a pep talk from a sister, I Miss You When I Blink is the funny, poignant, and deeply affecting book you’ll want to share with all your friends, as you learn what Philpott has figured out along the way: that multiple things can be true of us at once—and that sometimes doing things wrong is the way to do life right.

 

4. Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

 

'Save Me the Plums' Ruth Reichl

 

Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the risk (and the job) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food.

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. And yet . . . Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media–the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams–even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.

 

5. The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story

 

'A Nurse's Story' Christie Watson

 

A moving, lyrical, beautifully-written portrait of a nurse and the lives she has touched.

Christie Watson spent twenty years as a nurse, and in this intimate, poignant, and remarkably powerful book, she opens the doors of the hospital and shares its secrets. She takes us by her side down hospital corridors to visit the wards and meet her unforgettable patients.

In the neonatal unit, premature babies fight for their lives, hovering at the very edge of survival, like tiny Emmanuel, wrapped up in a sandwich bag. On the cancer wards, the nurses administer chemotherapy and, long after the medicine stops working, something more important–which Watson learns to recognize when her own father is dying of cancer. In the pediatric intensive care unit, the nurses wash the hair of a little girl to remove the smell of smoke from the house fire. The emergency room is overcrowded as ever, with waves of alcohol and drug addicted patients as well as patients like Betty, a widow suffering chest pain, frail and alone. And the stories of the geriatric ward–Gladys and older patients like her–show the plight of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Through the smallest of actions, nurses provide vital care and kindness. All of us will experience illness in our lifetime, and we will all depend on the support and dignity that nurses offer us; yet the women and men who form the vanguard of our health care remain unsung. In this age of fear, hate, and division, Christie Watson has written a book that reminds us of all that we share, and of the urgency of compassion.

 

All In-text Images Via Amazon.

Featured Image Via Bustle.