Looking for a great summer read? Join our book club.
Some of you read all the time while others (some of us included) look forward to that summer vacation to finally pick up an actual book for fun! So we've pulled together a list of some of our favorites from some of our favorite people. The list is diverse but there are some common threads throughout. These books focus on mothers, on the role of women in their families and communities, and on some of the special challenges women face. Some are serious, some are funny and some may bring a tear to your eye, but all are a great read. Over the course of the summer, we'll be bringing you interviews and Q&A’s from some of the authors and an inside scoop on their work. So pick a few and read along with us. And let us know what resonates for you on our Facebook page!
“Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness”
Alexandra Fuller wrote this intimate memoir, “Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness,” in order to delve into the history and unique experiences of her own family. The focus of the novel is Fuller’s mother, Nicola, who was raised in Kenya during a time of peace, traditional values, and loyalty to tribal blood and land. Fuller’s father, born and raised in the English countryside, experiences a childhood devoid of emotion, passion, and loyalty to familial ties of any kind. The juxtaposition of her parents background, in relation to her own childhood, ravaged by civil-wars, creates a dynamic, captivating story of generational differences, as well as universal similarities that link generations together. For a Q&A with the author, click here.
“Cutting for Stone”
Author and physician Abraham Verghese's novel, “Cutting for Stone,” is centered on the lives of twin brothers Marion and Shiva Stone who were left to fend for themselves after their mother’s death in childbirth, and their father’s disappearance shortly after the death. The twins have a deep connection to one another, but due to turmoil within Ethiopia, as well as a shared love interest for the same woman, Marion flees to America to pursue his interest of medicine, whilst Shiva remains in Ethiopia. This inspirational book promotes the importance of reconciliation, healing, and survival of life’s most arduous challenges. For the readers' guide, click here.
“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”
“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” written by Pulitzer-prize winners Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, is a compilation of stories of African and Asian women and girls. Kristoff and WuDunn use these women’ stories to demonstrate that the key to economic progress worldwide is to empower women and girls, and to unleash their full potential as economic and political contributors. These authors present readers with unadulterated, honest accounts of women who suffer extreme human rights violations, from sex trafficking to limited to no access to basic necessities, such as healthcare or education. This collection is infused with pain as well as healing, sadness as well as hope, and ideas for moving women’s empowerment strategies forward. For a Q&A with Sheryl, click here.
“I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events—the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t”
Written by Jennifer Gilbert, “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag” demonstrates the remarkable resiliency of the human spirit. In this personal memoir, Gilbert relays her traumatic experience of being violently attacked and stabbed in the hallway of a New York City apartment at the age of 22. Gilbert internalized this experience, told very few people, and swiftly preceded to found her own event planning company, Save the Date, at age 24. Gilbert’s company was an enormous success, donning her the title of Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Year at age 29. Gilbert, currently a mother of three, uses this book as an opportunity to discuss her attack, and how the experience ignited her inner drive for success.
“The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change”
“The Last Hunger Season,” is a collection of stories compiled by author, Roger Thurow, as he followed and recorded the lives of rural African farmers over the course of a year. Small, rural farmers living in Africa comprise over two-thirds of the population, and yet are thoroughly deprived of irrigation systems, revolutionized equipment, or fertilizer advancements that have been made throughout the world, along with safeguards such as capital, credit, or insurance. Thurow gives readers a clear, authentic portrait of farmers who combat hunger, food production obstacles, land ownership issues, corruption, as well as foreign aid and investments in their land. Not only are these farmers at risk, but the rest of Africa, and the increasingly hungry world. For a Q&A with Roger, click here.
“Little Bee,” a New York Times bestseller written by Chris Cleave, is the moving, unforgettable tale of a young Nigerian girl, Little Bee, who is haphazardly given the opportunity to escape her war-torn country and find refuge in the UK. “Little Bee” promotes the universal sentiments of love, spiritual connections shared between people, and the power of the shared human experience that transcends all racial, geographical, or cultural lines. The inherent strength and courage of this young girl to move forward through life given her strenuous circumstances is an inspiration to all readers, and reminds us that fate is an uncontrollable, mysterious force that is oftentimes unexplainable. To read a Q&A with Chris Cleave, click here.
"Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France"
Sue Monk Kidd has touched the hearts of millions of readers with her beloved novels and acclaimed nonfiction. Now, in the wise and engrossing dual memoir, "Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France," she and her daughter, Ann, chronicle their travels together through Greece and France at a time when each was on a quest to redefine herself and rediscover each other. For a Q&A with Sue Monk Kidd, click here.
“Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love”
“Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love,” by Matt Logelin, starts out with the story of Matt’s meeting and marriage to his wife Liz, their life in LA, Liz’s pregnancy and then the birth of their beautiful daughter Madeline in March 24, 2008. However, just twenty-seven hours after delivering Madeline, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited. In this memoir, Matt shares bittersweet and often humorous anecdotes of his courtship and marriage to Liz; of relying on his newborn daughter for the support that she unknowingly provided; and of the extraordinary online community of strangers who have become his friends. In honoring Liz's legacy, heartache has become solace. For a Q&A with Matt, click here
“The Unfinished Revolution: Voices from the Global Fight for Women’s Rights”
“The Unfinished Revolution” is an anthology edited by Minky Worden. Over 30 contributors, including writers, activists, human rights experts, policy makers, and Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams contributed to this work. This collection of essays proposes conceivable solutions to confronting the continuous violations of women’s rights worldwide, including human trafficking, traditional customs such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, and unequal societal standings. For a Q&A with editor Minky Worden, click here.
“When Women Were Birds: 54 Variations on Voice”
Terry Tempest Williams, author of “When Women Were Birds,” uses personal narrative to grapple with the questions of what it means to have a “voice,” and the various ways that people express their voices. Terry’s mother, a member of a large Mormon clan in Utah, developed cancer as a result of exposure to a nearby nuclear testing site. After her mother’s death, Terry discovers that she kept a total of 54 personal journals throughout her sickness, but to Terry’s surprise, they are entirely devoid of writing. Join Terry as she dedicates a chapter of her account to each of her mothers’ journals, and attempts to solve the mystery of their content. For a Q&A with Terry, click here.