1. Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are by Hillary L. McBride Maybe I’ve mentioned it a dozen times before, but I’m a massive fan of The Liturgists Podcast. For a list of my top five episodes, kindly reach out via email. Hillary McBride is the soothing voice of insight on every episode, if you’re unfamiliar. She is brilliant and so insightful. Her book on body image was ordered the moment I learned of it. Similar to books like The Body Keeps the Score, this felt heavy at times and had to be read in little bits. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the case studies or stats, but the heart of the book was worth it.
2. You’re on an Airplane by Parker Posey Celebrity memoir can be a tricky genre. Usually, I would be more keen to indulge on the beach somewhere over the summer, but exceptions are made for Parker Posey. Ruby brought me a copy, which I started immediately. I expected to be interested, but I couldn’t put the book down. Posey is quirky, as much as I hate the word, and her voice translates well in the book. Aided by odd little drawings and collages, she dives into her family history, memories from sets, and life in New York. I loved her reflections on her relationship with Nora Ephron the most, but that’s a given.
3. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott I love that collection of five or so books that make up your forever top shelf. For me, Bird by Bird, is definitely one. Anne Lamott is everything a good author should be-hilarious, fearless, and honest. It’s special to re-read over notes from previous readings. There’s so much good to come back to in this little book.
4. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore This book was purchased sort of haphazardly, one of those Amazon orders where you tack on a book you’ve been dying to read on top of toilet paper and Mrs. Meyer’s soap. Reading short story collections has been a first for me this year and the results have been brilliant enough for me to consider one of my favorite story structures. While there are lots coming out now, I’ve been looking to titles from ten or so years ago. Self-Help is comprised of nine stories. (Worked for J.D. Salinger, works for me) The stories felt incredibly cohesive, each one propelling into the next. Topics included grief, love, and motherhood, all explored the perfect balance of humor and insight.
5. Magdalene: Poems by Marie Howe Poetry inspired by Biblical characters has become a significant practice in my spiritual reading. This was the base of one of my final projects back in May. Seeking out works like this has been a sort of challenge for me recently. Howe’s collection of poems places Mary Magdalene in a modern imagination. Here, she is a woman, like any of us, trying to decipher the ways the sacred intersect with the sensual. I loved this interpretation and would recommend reading in one sitting, if possible, for the deepest immersion in this fully human perspective.
6. Crudo by Olivia Laing I had the lovely privilege of hearing Olivia Laing interviewed by Stephanie Danler at Housing Works a few weeks ago. And the best part was getting to attend with Ruby. I’d never read Laing, but heard remarkable things from writers I adore. The conversation was captivating. It felt like the whole audience left happy they braved the rain for the evening. I read Ruby’s copy of Crudo the next day, slipping into its rhythm at any free moment. Although technically fiction, the book centers in the shifting political and environmental landscape of summer 2017. It reads with the honesty of a memoir and the urgency of a social media post. But underneath the turmoil is the classic tale of learning to love another person-even as the world falls apart.